Your new movie Ghosts
of Darkness - in a few words, what is it about?
Two paranormal investigators are unexpectedly thrown together in the
hope of solving a 100 year mystery. Locked for three nights in a house
with a dark and unsettling past, the two investigators must put their
differences to one side and work together. Scepticism and showmanship are
soon put to one side when the two investigators realise there is more at
stake than just their professional reputation. For once they have stumbled
onto the real thing, but this time it's their own lives at stake.
Ghosts of Darkness
being about a couple of paranormal investigators, what are your personal
thoughts on the subject? And how much research did go into that aspect of
We actually met up with a real ghost hunter; all
the props used in the movie by the Jack Donavan are gadgets paranormal
investigators use in their real life investigations. Both my producing
partner Lorraine Keith and I attended a ghost hunt on a famous haunted boat in
Scotland. Although watching the process was interesting, it was also
hilarious to observe the organisers trying to ramp up the fear factor as
it was clear nothing of interest was happening in the paranormal.
Iím more than open to the idea of ghosts & demons, but unfortunately
Iím still waiting to see any of them with my own eyes.
Other sources of inspiration when writing Ghosts
Itís hard not to be influenced by
other paranormal movies when writing this kind of script. We had a limited
budget, so the tricky part was coming up with a story that would work with
what we had available financially. Itís easy when writing any kind
of screenplay to get carried away with what you envision will work on
screen. Itís only when youíre standing behind a camera with actors and
crew, that the reality of whatís possible hits you. For instance I would
have loved to blow the location up at the end of the movie, but
unfortunately that would have cost around twenty times more than the
entire film cost to make. I now write all my scripts with the budget in
mind. Itís a little frustrating but it definitely lessens the sadness of
not being able to do something that sounds amazing on paper, but just
impossible to do in the real world (unless you have the big bucks).
Do talk about your movie's approach
to horror for a bit!
I think nailing the location for this
film was a huge factor in the way we approached the actual filming. We
started the location shoot with all these crazy camera angles and
movements planned to heighten the horror, giving the movie more of a big
budget look and feel. As we slowly started to work through the scenes it
felt more natural to keep the actual camera in the background so to speak
and let the actorsí performances take centre stage. With such a cool
spooky location you donít need to do much cinematically to create an
immersive horror atmosphere.
What can you tell us about your
cast, and why exactly these people?
Paul Flannery runs a theatre production called Knightmare Live. Itís
based on an old, famous, much loved U.K childrenís programme that used
to air in the nineties. An actor friend invited me to one of his shows and
I immediately knew I had to cast Paul to play the character of Jonathan
Blazer. This was Paul's first ever film.
One of the investors stipulations was I cast a US lead to help with
marketing the movie to a US audience. I found Michael Koltes on a website
showcasing US actors (he is in fact German) working in the UK. His
picture was the first to pop up and I loved his acting reel. I didnít
look at anyone else and just prayed I could convince them both to star in
the film before the start date.
Both actors were great to work with and had a huge impact on re-working
the dialogue for their characters; in fact it turned out to be a very
collaborative experience. They really worked hard on taking what I had
written in the script and adapting it both for them personally and the
characters they played in the movie.
of Darkness was filmed in some very atmospheric locations - so do
talk about those for a bit, and what was it like filming there?
location in the movie is real. What you see in the film is exactly what
you get if you rent this house out for family vacations etc. We spent 16
days shooting at the location which also doubled as our accommodation
which proved to be tough. The house is located in a really isolated part
of Scotland, no internet, no contact with the outside world. It kind of
turned into some kind of surreal Big Brother experience. Budget-wise it
made sense to have the actors and crew stay at the location, but I think
in the end it felt like we were trapped there. Getting back to
civilisation was a ferry trip across a Loch and a long drive into town. In
a weird way it probably helped me as a director as I had nothing else to
do but concentrate on the film 24/7, but I suspect the poor actors and
crew were slowly going mad.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
getting the greenlight and receiving the budget, we had four weeks to
organise the entire movie before the shoot, this included finding the cast
and crew. The first couple of days are always a little weird as you are
meeting all these people you donít really know, but it didnít take
long for everyone to settle into the filming. The cast and crew for this
film were tiny. Seven crew and two actors were on set full time with the
other ghosts & ghouls travelling to the location for a couple of days
to film their scenes and then leave. The 9 of us were stuck at the
location during filming and then again in our down time at night. Looking
back this probably worked in our favour as we quickly formed a really
efficient unit both behind and in front of the camera and never fell
$64-question of course, when and where will your movie be released onto
the general public?
The movie comes out on the 7th of March
on digital VOD, the DVD release follows in June.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Ghosts
of Darkness yet?
As Iím writing this the first of
the reviews are just filtering through, so far so good, but the horror
community can be a tough nut to crack and be quite unforgiving. This is an
indie film so we have a bit of a mountain to climb to please everyone, so
my fingers are crossed the movie does well. You can never tell if itís
worked until the public get their hands on it.
Any future projects you'd like
We have a slate of 3 films we want to produce,
but finding investment is always a hard process to nail down. Hopefully Ghosts
preforms well for the distributor and we can get the
other projects off the ground.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ghosts
is my first
fully funded movie. The last two movies I made, Attack Of The Herbals
& The Redwood Massacre, were funded through our own company Clear
Focus Movies, and were devised specifically to see if we could actually
make a film and sell it. Weíd almost given up on getting investment for Ghosts
when luckily we found someone who was willing to take a
risk on us. Weíre delivering movies for under $40k including
post-production. Unfortunately in Scotland our national film organisation
wonít touch filmmakers with a budget of less than £800k, which kind of
leaves us looking to countries like the US for money. Having investment
makes a big difference to the productions and if you ever get the chance
to watch the other films Iíve done you can definitely see the
Feeling lucky ?
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The links below
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Going through your filmography,
horror seems a genre you return to time and again - pure coincidence, or
is horror a genre at all dear to you, and why (not)?
honest I think the horror genre lends itself better to indie film making,
you can produce fairly inexpensive films with a small crew and cast and
know you have a passionate dedicated audience that will give the movie a
chance. I grew up watching horror movies so at the moment it just feels
like a good fit for us and obviously they are a lot of fun to make.
would you describe yourself as a director?
Iím just like
any director out there at this level, Iím just trying to do my best and
make the films as good as they can possibly be. Maybe one day Iíll get
the opportunity to work with slightly bigger budgets and finally get to
pull off some of the crazy ideas we have on a larger scale.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
for the interview!