Your new movie The Snare
- in a few words, what is it about?
The Snare is
a psychological horror about three friends who head to the seafront for
the weekend, only to be imprisoned on the top floor of their holiday
apartment by a malevolent paranormal force that proceeds to cut off their
resources, manipulate, torture and starve them, ultimately driving them
What were your
sources of inspiration for writing The
There were many
influences on The Snare although I would say some of the strongest were
the works of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, William Friedkin and Lars Von
Trier. The Shining and The
Exorcist for me are the two greatest horror
films of all time so I always draw from those.
Snare leaves much of its plot open to interpretation - so telling
a story that way, how hard is it for you as a writer not to get lost in
I find the writing process
to be very challenging and very difficult in its entirety and would
certainly stress that for me itís the single most important part of any
project. When it came to creating a plot open to interpretation, in the
case of The Snare, I felt that it was very important that I, as the
writer/director, knew exactly what was going on in the apartmentÖ as in
who/what the paranormal presence was in the apartment. Why it was there?
How long had it been there? etc. It was essential for me to ultimately
know the answers to everything and to know the world. This would then
allow me to choose what to reveal and at what point along with what to
hold back and what to allude to and so on. I personally believe that what
makes stories of ghosts and the paranormal frightening is that they are
mysterious, we donít understand them and we donít have the answers, so
I wanted audiences to be able to draw their own conclusions from the
paranormal incidences that took place in The Snare and form their own
Do talk about your movie's approach to
much of what you see on screen in The Snare was done for real from the
dramatic weight loss of the cast to the eating of live spiders and
maggots. It was very important to me that the fear felt by the actors
onscreen was real so the actual production itself and the manner in which
the film was shot was designed to capture this.
should expect a very raw, real and visceral experience when it comes to
the performances on a level that you would not typically find in your
average horror flick.
You of course also have to talk about your
location for a bit, and did you write the script with that specific
location in mind, or did you only find it afterwards - and in what way did
the location shape the movie?
wrote the script based around the location. It
was filmed in Bournemouth by the coast, which is approx. a 2 hour drive
from London, where myself, the cast and crew are all based. The
apartment actually belonged to my girlfriendís parents and is based
right by the sea as seen in the film (although at a different beach Ė we
had to drive much further out for the one that was used in the film). In
the tradition of low budget filmmaking, I just looked at the resources I
had available and designed the film with those in mind.
What can you tell us about
your directorial approach to your story at hand?
I always envisaged the film from the start as a very
raw, intense, performance-driven piece and was adamant from day one that
everything onscreen needed to be performed for real (or
at least as real as physically possible). Most importantly, the fear
felt by the actors onscreen needed to be real. I felt this was necessary
in order to push the actors to the physical and emotional extremes that
were required for the piece to work and to truly immerse audiences in what
would be a fresh, raw and honest experience.
To achieve this I felt that the following approach
Firstly, I believed that from the moment the cast
arrived on set at the apartment that they should not be allowed to leave.
My plan was that the actors were to eat, sleep and live in the apartment
seen in the film and that they would not be allowed to leave the apartment
either, just like in the film.
Secondly, everything needed to be controlled, from
their diets, to their sleep patterns, their hygiene, their down time and
their anxiety levels.
Thirdly, I needed to convince them that the
apartment was genuinely haunted so this was rigged and prepped by myself
and the crew months in advance. I felt that if the paranormal elements of
the film were to appear convincing then the actors would need to be fully
convinced themselves. We
rigged doors to slam shut on cue, lights to black out unexpectedly and
would trash their bedrooms and move their things around during filming.
Finally, everything needed to be shot in
chronological order so that the physical and mental deterioration of the
actors was consistent. The only exception to this would be the dream
sequences and when make-up would need to be applied to dramatize key
was always my intention to place audiences right in the centre of the film
so that they could experience it in the most visceral sense possible.
about your cast, and why exactly these people?
this was my first film, when it came to casting, it was mostly about trust
and practicality. I held auditions in the hope of discovering people who I
felt I could push to the physical and emotional extremes required for the
During filming, I wanted to strictly simulate the
experience of being trapped for an extended period without food or water
to such an extent that the actors would genuinely begin to physically and
mentally deteriorate. As I mentioned before, the shooting schedule was
designed to capture this chronologically as it took place and the plan was
for the actors to actually eat, sleep and live in the apartment seen in
the start I had always envisaged the film as a very intense, performance
driven piece so I wanted the fear felt by the actors to be real and so for
me an approach like this was essential. The
cast needed to be able to handle this and stick it out.
words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was a very claustrophobic and oppressive environment for all of us as
myself, the cast and the crew were all living in the actual apartment
thatís seen in the film. There were just a few small rooms and a kitchen
as seen in the trailer. What made it worse was that none of us were
allowed to leave. Itís something we all agreed upon beforehand of course
so we all knew what weíd be in for, but that didnít make it any less
traumatic. We would wake up in the morning, push our stuff to the side and
start shooting. There was no escape from it. The world of the film and the
real world fused as one and we were all literally living in it. Eaoifa
Forward, the actress who plays Alice, actually lived in Aliceís room and
slept in Aliceís bed as seen in the film. It was a very frightening
place to be. None of us could ever go back there.
$64-question of course, when and where will your movie be released onto
the general public?
The Snare is being
released theatrically across select US cinemas from Jan 6th. The DVD will
hit stores Mar 7th followed by Video On Demand.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of The
very early days still, so difficult to tell at this point, but a few early
reviews have gone out and so far the response has been fantastic which is
great. Weíll have a much better idea of how itís doing once it starts
playing in theaters. Without a doubt, some people will
be offended, sickened and disgusted by aspects of the filmís content,
whereas others will really enjoy those same aspects. Ideally
the film will provoke a strong response either way.
Any future projects you'd like to
Yes, I currently have two feature film projects in
the early stages of development.
One of these is an intense, suspense driven
thriller focused around a father/son conflict set against the
backdrop of a suicide cult.
The other is a dread laden, hard hitting, psychological horror with a
unique high concept hook that is somewhat of a crossover between The
Exorcist (1973) and Taxi
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
havenít ever had any formal training and would consider myself
self-taught as a filmmaker. I started
making amateur films as a hobby from around 12 years old and made a
feature film every year between the ages of 15 to 18. They mostly featured
my friends from school and were just made for fun really and were never
intended to be seen by audiences. The Snare on the other hand was intended
for a commercial release right from the start.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
always been directing shorts although predominantly with a technical focus
in order to develop my craft. They werenít ever really intended to be
shown to anyone or entered into festivals or anything like that. After I
left education I started working on studio films and commercials in the
camera/video dept. as a day job whilst working freelance on the side as a
cinematographer. Working as a cinematographer was really useful as I was
able work closely with other directors and watch them at work. However,
that said, what I mostly observed was how NOT to direct a film and took
note of what to avoid doing at all costs, which was very useful when it
came to directing and producing my own project.
How would you describe yourself as a
Thatís a difficult question to answer as itís
not something Iíve ever really thought about before. The cast and crew
often describe me as a perfectionist, primarily because I tend to do a lot
of takes. I think the most we did at one point on The Snare was 39. I
believe that itís important to take the time to do things properly and
get them right.
I feel itís important that the relationships you
have on set are very honest, especially with the actors, so I take a
strict ďno-bullshitĒ approach. The actors Iíve worked with know that
they can trust me and thatís very important as it means they can rest
assured that I will tell them honestly and very directly whether or not I
feel something is working. I feel this helps to give actors the confidence
to experiment and try different things until we discover something that
really works or perhaps works even better than what we had been exploring
Filmmakers who inspire you?
are many. The list is quite extensive as different filmmakers inspire me
in different ways, but I would say Stanley Kubrick in particular as I have
a profound respect for his approach to the craft.
Thatís a very
difficult question to answer. My favourite films of all time span across a
vast variety of genres and I hold them all in equal regard. If I had to
pick one though I would say 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
... and of course, films you really
couldnít possibly mention them here.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I donít think
so, I think thatís everything covered :)
Thanks for the interview!