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An Interview with Mark Bousfield, Director of Ghost Nets

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2016

Films directed by Mark Bousfield on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Ghost Nets - in a few words, what is it about?


Ghost Nets is a thriller set against the brutal landscape of the British coastline. Two brothers take a trip to the beach to try and reforge broken bonds following the death of their father. When they start to unearth long kept secrets the sea shows that it's not just skeletons in the closet that are left behind when the tide goes out.


What were your inspirations for writing Ghost Nets? And the underlying theme of sibling rivalry (or any other underlying theme for that matter) - is that at all based on personal experience?


I really wanted to write a character piece, something about people and how they interact. I also wanted to isolate the characters to try and see what would happen when the usual escape routes are closed off. So in terms of themes, something that is universal is family. Whether it's love, hate or indifference we're all vulnerable where our family relationships are concerned. Familial relationships have always fascinated me and form a theme in lots of my work, a sense of belonging that can be something valued or something abused. I just tried to explore that further and under heightened circumstances.


Ghost Nets remains extremely vague about its central McGuffin, the contents of the briefcase - why is that then, and was this vagueness intentional from the get-go or did you at one point plan to go more concrete?


In a sense I always thought that the actual contents of the briefcase didn't matter, it was more what they represented to the character of Jack. They are the catalyst to feed Jack's darkest emotions and set him on a trail to self destruction. It's the scene when he discovers the contents that we see him turn, all that blackness within comes to the surface and the clown act dies. I also couldn't help but make my own small homage to Pulp Fiction, a masterpiece!


You just have to talk about your great location for a bit, and what were the challenges of filming there? And did you write the story with that specific location in mind already?


I had the film written for a few years before I discovered the location in the film, funnily enough the location had been on my doorstep the whole time but I had never been there before! My DOP took me there and instantly I was amazed, this was it. Joss Bay is spectacular, it's like the surface of the moon when the tide goes out and I wanted the sense of isolation that you only normally get in space movies. We hardly saw a soul for the four days we shot over, I think the cast and crew all welcomed a warm bed and bath once filming was finished.

If it looks cold on film, it's not a patch on how truly cold it was, especially shooting over night. The crew were wrapped in layers upon layers whilst the cast huddled around their little fire clinging to the heat for dear life.

Sound was always an issue due to the exposed nature of the beach, strong winds and waves meant that we had to ADR a lot which was a challenge on a low budget.

Finally, our other biggest enemy was the tide. The scene in the cave is a prime example. Very complex to film and key to the film, the explosive pace of the action here is so opposed to the slowness of the development so we had to get it right. The trouble is that the cave was quite remote and we started to see the sea get closer and closer to cutting us off. I needed just one more take (which we got in the bag) before we had to run for it... we all got wet feet getting to safety but well worth it.


How would you describe your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I like to let actors act, it sounds really simple but I believe that characters should be able to breathe like real life people, I set the rules and world of each scene and I tried to get as naturalistic a performance as I could from the actors because my true aim was to distil a sense of truth and beauty in vulnerability, I was lucky to have four fantastic actors that really got this and trusted me to shape the scenes but trusted them enough to explore new ground. To this extend there was a fair amount of improv in the small talk, the actors were forced to spend plenty of time together in close quarters so hopefully the bonds you see on screen come through from real life.


What can you tell us about your cast, and why exactly these people?


Firstly, Charlotte Mounter is a brilliant actress. I've known her for a long time ... she also happens to be my wife! Charlotte has worked with both Bruce Lawrence and Joe Sowerbutts before, so we knew exactly who we wanted before we even put a casting out. Bruce is a great leading man; tall, masculine and a handsome devil. Joe is a fantastic actor, his range, subtelty and commitment out so good. Lloyd Morris gave us such a ferocious audition he was cast without seeing anyone else after we saw him. We were very lucky that the calibre of acting we had available to us was so high.


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The atmosphere on set was great, there was such a great camaraderie between all. We had a reasonably big sized crew for a short filmed on only £5,000 and it was so rewarding as a writer and a director to see all these talented people making these things you dream of into reality.

Maria, our producer, was tireless. From managing our budget and all the paperwork she drove here, there and everywhere picking up severed hands, stunt rocks, you name it! Lina our AD was great, she marshalled the troops, even for 4am call times to get that beautiful first morning light you can see burst across the beach. Jordan (DOP) and Duncan (camera) captured something amazing on that beach. Astoundingly beautiful photography. But also our make up and production design spent so much time taming the elements to make it all happen.

Of course, a film doesn't stop on set, Richard our composer created a unique soundtrack for the film and Roberto our editor and colourist gave the film it's final sheen.


The $64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?


Currently Ghost Nets is submitted to about 40 festivals, we're awaiting news on 99% of those but it is so far in Official Selection at the Fan Boy Film Festival and the Chain NYC Film Festival in New York.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Ghost Nets yet?


We had our premiere at Canterbury's Westgate Towers, it was the first film premiere in the building's very, very long history. We had coverage in the local press as well as many favourable reviews by online blogs and film reviewers.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I'm working on a feature length sci-fi/horror... I'll be sure to let you know when I can share more!


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


Being a film director is all I've ever wanted to be and every career choice I've made since being a boy has been following that dream. I studied film at university but it was more theoretical training as opposed to practical hands-on filmmaking.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ghost Nets?


I have directed three films before Ghost Nets as well as several music videos. My day job is a producer and director for commercials/branded content so I am able to keep my hand in most days!

My previous films are Man (2005), The Day My Heart (and Body) Broke... (2007), Looking For My Brother (2010).


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I'm a very reflective director, I usually know what I want from a shot very early in the planning... usually when I write the script I have it in my mind's eye pretty vividly and I try and convey that to all the creatives in my team. The actors and DOP particularly, they have to have a solid map and vision but enough latitude to bring it to life and add extra dimensions to the project.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Wong Kar-Wai is my favourite director of all time, Tarantino up until Kill Bill and Danny Boyle. Trainspotting was the film that I wish I'd made, it certainly put the final focus on my desire to be a filmmaker. I hugely admire Darren Aronofsky although I hated Noah!


Your favourite movies?


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Find Mark Bousfield
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Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

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Your shop for all things Thai

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x-rated  find Mark Bousfield at

Trainspotting, In The Mood For Love, Chunking Express, Pulp Fiction, The Shining, Terminator 2, Requiem For A Dream.

I think TV counts on this section nowadays - True Detective, The Wire, Game of Thrones.

There's too many now.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Not many, Bad Santa I didn't like at all.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else? - please like the page if you can!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD