The project you're currently developing, Nemesis - in a few
words, what is it about?
It's a female led action thriller about a British government assassin
who tries to save two young sisters from sexual exploitation by a street
gang. It leads her to an aristocratic child killer at the centre of an
influential paedophile ring and sets her against her own bosses.
What were your inspirations for
Richard Selwyn-Barnett told me that
he'd like to be involved with making a gritty British action film with a
similar subject to The Lost Son, an Arts Council/Canal+ funded thriller
about sex trafficking. I wasn't sure that it was a subject that I wanted
to work with, but the more I researched, the more I felt that I had to
What can you tell us about the
intended look and feel of your movie?
That kind of narrative drive is what I'm aiming for with Nemesis,
a hero that you'd trust with your life and blistering action that has you
yearning for the moment when she gives the bad guys what they deserve.
I've been studying krav maga, Israeli military close combat, for two years as
part of my research, to give the lead a fast, realistic, hardcore fighting
Will you appear in
front of the camera in Nemesis as well, and if so, have you written
your character with yourself in mind?
I almost expected to
have to play the lead villain, as I didn't think many people would relish
the role of a multimillionaire child killer, but I've spoken to several
actors who say they'd love the challenge.
As far as I know, Nemesis
is still in its development stages - care to elaborate on the status of
It's the first project that I've tried to raise funding for instead of
just paying for it myself. I'm passionate about the subject matter, so
it's frustrating talking to people for whom the dollar is the bottom line.
After two years working on the screenplay, I have no development funding
as yet, so I can't afford to pay production professionals who could help
with the search for the budget.
I have had very positive feedback from a US production company, but it's
still early days.
Another future project of yours is Blood for
the Hunter - could you talk about that one for a bit?
It's a supernatural action thriller about a woman trying to save her
younger sister from a cult that is reviving ancient gods with blood
16-year-old Jess Stafford goes missing while jogging near Hobbes' Wood.
Her father gets together a team of mercenaries and goes looking. Skilled,
and heavily armed, they're ready for anything human. But Hobbes Wood is a
portal to the Old Forest and Jess has been taken by the Wild Hunt.
Soon the search team are lost, leaving only Jess's sister Kate and
security operative Alice to go on a rescue mission that will pit them
against terrifying ancient demons and their cult followers. Ultimately,
guns don't work and the cult must be fought hand to hand, with steel. Lots
of sword, knife and spear action is the aim.
are loads of great martial artists in the UK dying to work on big action
projects. I'd love to put them to work making something awesome.
other future projects of yours you'd like to mention?
working on a supernatural western, inspired by a couple of amazing
locations I'd like to use in northern Spain. I'd like to make a mediaeval
sword film with historically accurate European martial arts – a kind of
European ronin movie. And I have a sci-fi concept about a clash between
transhumanism and religious zealots – kind of
Blade Runner, if the replicants were the heroes, meets
Assault on Precinct 13
in the Antarctic.
first entered the filmworld as an actor - so what got you into acting in
the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
I started acting at school when I was 17. It was the first thing that
anyone had ever said I was good at, so I took acting and directing as part
of my degree. But I got talked out of it as a career and spent most of my
life teaching English as a foreign language.
made you pick up writing and directing eventually, and how would you
describe yourself as a director?
I loved directing when I
studied it in college. I'd wanted to write since I was a kid, but never
had anything I wanted to write about until I started looking for scripts
to act in in fringe theatre. I started with a very mixed bag. I co-wrote
comedy sketches for shows that myself and Ben Shockley did in student
unions to get our Equity cards. I adapted Joseph Conrad's
Heart of Darkness
for two actors on a bare stage. Then I started writing shorts to
experiment with filmmaking on cheap cameras, to see what I could learn.
Bloodmyth was my first completed feature script.
What I learn from acting feeds into my writing and directing. My directing
helps my writing. Everything feeds into everything else. What I want to do
with all of them is tell good stories well.
I think a director's job is to have a vision of the experience they want the
audience to have; To put together the perfect team to realise the vision;
then to inspire, support and bring out the creativity in everyone in the
team so that the film grows to be the best it can be.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Nemesis (in whatever position)?
I've acted in independent British films, shorts and features. I've done
three action features now for my friend Ross Boyask, all in character
roles. I tend to play criminals, military or police.
Bloodmyth was my first crack at directing a feature, in two weeks, using
my own money. It's about a man who believes he is carrying out
experimental archaeology by recreating ancient methods of human sacrifice
and the people on a survival course who are unlucky enough to be chosen as
I've also been involved as an actor, and once as director, in quite a few
projects that never made it. My first ever feature role was a nice little
ghost story that got two thirds through the edit before the filmmaker ran
out of money and gave up filmmaking forever.
movies, you have also done lots of theatre, right? So how does performing
on stage compare to acting in front of a camera?
theatre work has been in studio venues, where the size of the space means
that the performance doesn't need to be radically different from film. I
love doing theatre. There's a great buzz from sharing work with a live
audience, but at the same time, I get a lot more nervous, especially when
I've written and directed – there's no-one else to blame if the audience
don't like it.
would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to
bring your characters to life?
I've studied the main acting
theories and I take tools from all of them when I approach a character.
For anything complex I use the available information to build a
model of the character in my own head, like a computer simulation that
will run on its own. Then it's a question of listening to the other actors
and reacting. Sometimes though, no acting is necessary or desirable. If
your character fires a gun, for example, you don't need to act tough while
you do it. It looks fake. You just need to focus on your aim.
writers, whoever else who inspire you?
The actors who inspire me are the ones I get to work with. There are so
many amazing performers out there that you've probably never heard of.
Some of them I work with in the actors table reads at the London
Screenwriters Festival, some on film projects - people who've worked
whatever flexible jobs they could get to make ends meet for years because
they love acting. People who never give up.
I loved the Roger Corman
[Roger Corman bio - click
here] horror films with Vincent Price [Vincent
Price bio - click here] when I was a teenager and they were on TV
a lot. I like the fact that he maximised his resources and time, shooting
films back to back, re-using sets, taking spare studio time to shoot
something. It's also amazing that he gave early chances to so many people
who became successful in the industry. His example, together with Robert
Rebel Without a Crew, inspired me to make Bloodmyth.
For a while, Korean and Japanese filmmakers have been making films that
seem to have been made with more freedom to be more quirky or push
boundaries, maybe because they don't have to follow the Hollywood paradigm
or maybe because investors there are more daring. They're more likely to
challenge you, to make you think, or to surprise you.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
There are so many movies that I love and a list would change every day.
with James Stewart is probably my long-term favourite. I know it's not
very cinematic because it's based on a play, but it feels like a hug. It
was my grandfather's favourite and it's my father's, mine and my son's.
list off the top of my head:
The Man from Nowhere,
A Bittersweet Life, Miike's
Cold Fish, Castaway on the Moon, Lady Vengeance,
The Good, The Bad, The Weird.
An honourable mention goes
The premise is ridiculous but the action is pure poetry.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Every film has
taken a team of people a huge amount of effort to make and I think you
have to respect that. It does make me sad, though, that bad films use up
investment that could make better ones.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
My website: http://thejohnrackham.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/John-Rackham-24713159159
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/unsheathedsword
for the Hunter on Facebook:
I have a lot of social media pages! That's the short list!
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
can't think of anything.
for the interview!
Special thanks to Richard S Barnett,
founder of IIWYK!!!