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An Interview with Mark Vella, Director of The Neighbours

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2015

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


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Your upcoming movie The Neighbours - in a few words, what's it going to be about?


The Neighbours is the story of a down on her luck woman whose neighbours may be murderers or worse…


What were your inspirations when writing The Neighbours? And is any of this, however remotely, based on some "horrible neighbour"-stories of your own?


I have always loved the idea of ‘the thing on your doorstep’ and horror invading your home, a traditionally safe place of refuge and that the person living nearest to you could be a monster. I am lucky to have had great neighbours but it doesn’t stop me wondering what they are doing behind closed doors!


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like)?


Well I think good horror is not about which is preferable, which is better, I think there is a place for all aspects if the characters and story is involving. In The Neighbours I cover all – there is suspense, horror hiding in the darkness, jumps, gore. All of these are necessary ingredients to my particular concoction but the underlying approach is that of believable characters that you can empathise with plus a great monster!!


You have chosen to shoot The Neighbours on 35 mm film - why is that then, and where do you see the advantages but maybe also challenges shooting on film?


Lynn Lowry

The look that can be created using 35mm is unlike any other look – the depth the richness of colour, the use of the grain, it all helps to create the feel of he world I want to create, however I have no aversion to digital and will shoot digitally if the budget and schedule doesn’t allow for 35mm – digital film cameras are so advanced now that the look they can give would fit perfectly fine – it’s just celluloid would be truer for the feel of the piece.


What can you tell us about the intended overall look and feel of your movie?


The Neighbours is about broken souls, the similarities between my heroine (Rebecca) and my villain (‘Sister’) are more than they think, so I have created two looks – both individually pertaining to the specific character (dark cold colours for Rebecca to indicate a lack of light in her life contrasting with bright, gaudy Baconesque reds and yellows for ‘Sister’ indicating a ‘false’ sense of light and brightness) however each showing a lack of truth of character. But the overall ‘look’ is that of hopelessness and isolation.


Your film will star horror icon Lynn Lowry in her British film debut - so why her, and how did you get her even?


I have always been a fan of Lynn’s, I have loved her innocent sweet look that can also turn evil if required, plus her range is perfect for the complex part of ‘Sister’. What she does, she does out of love for her brother and to bring a certain sense of sympathy and pathos to the role requires a sensitive and intelligent actor, which Lynn provides in abundance. I was honoured to have been found by Lynn who saw my film page and wanted to read the script so imagine my delight when she read it and wanted the part of ‘Sister’. Once she said that, in my mind, there was never any doubt!


Mark with Charlotte Mounter

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


The part of Rebecca will be played by Charlotte Mounter, who is an experienced and wide ranging actress who I had the pleasure of working with on Mark Bousfield’s wonderful short film Ghost Nets, which will be coming soon. Charlotte will bring a believability to the role that will tap in to a lot of people’s day to day feelings of being trapped and isolated in either work or home life and she can convey that ‘walls closing in’ aspect of Rebecca that leads her to even more danger. Charlotte is a deeply intellectual actress that will make the audience really feel for her plight.

Also in the cast is Sarah Langton who plays Dee, Rebecca’s best friend, and also a reminder of happier times that Rebecca has had. Sarah’s naturally happy persona is perfect to counter Rebecca’s doom and Dee’s tragic journey will be brought to life perfectly by Sarah’s sensitive portrayal.


As far as I know, you're currently running a fundraiser for The Neighbours - so what can you tell us about your fundraising campaign?


I am currently raising money through IndieGoGo and initially looking for a small amount to shoot 2 days then edit that and try to raise the rest of the budget for the remainder of the shoot (about 6 days in total, around 8000 pounds).


Once your funds are raised, what's the schedule - and any idea when and where the film might be released onto the general public yet, however tentatively?


So the first 2 days will be shot mid September with the rest shot mid November 2015, so with a bit of luck I am looking for a March, April completion and possibly a May release (coinciding with my birthday!)


Any future projects beyond The Neighbours?


Yes most definitely – I have a feature script ready entitled erica – a creepy little tale of fantasy and murder!


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


As a child I wanted to be Boris Karloff [Boris Karloff bio - click here], but when I saw Psycho at an early age I knew I wanted to be a film director, telling stories and films are my favourite things so to be able to do this is a privilege and an honour. I have worked for nearly 30 years in the industry so all of my training has been on the job.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Neighbours?


I have made 2 short films so far, Surprise and a short version of erica, which I took successfully to the Cannes Film Festival.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I would say I am sensitive to the needs of the cast and crew but especially to the audience so I create an atmosphere where we can tell the story as best as we can for you the horror fan.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


In horror I would say everyone inspires me in some way whether it’s the heavyweights (Carpenter, Argento, Bava [Mario Bava bio - click here], Cronenberg, Romero) or the guys that have pioneered (H.G. Lewis [Herschell Gordon Lewis bio - click here], Tobe Hooper, James Whale). Outside of horror I would say Tarkovsky, Bergman, Kubrick for inspiration of character development, but of course my main source of inspiration is the master Alfred Hitchcock who made me realize the importance of the mise-en-scene.


Your favourite movies?


Psycho, The Shining (a true lesson in building tension), The Wicker Man (for its jolly sense of doom!), Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Black Cat (1934) - the list is endless.


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


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Mark Vella
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Mark Vella here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Mark Vella at

I deplore factory-produced horror that condescends to the audience and shows them disrespect.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo, whatever else?


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Independent horror films are the lifeblood (sic) of the industry and the fan base is one of the most loyal and discerning there is, so projects like this are made FOR the audience and to offer something that will please, terrify and ultimately satisfy them is something that is paramount to me, and I hope I can deliver!


Thanks for the interview!


Thank you.


© 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 !!!



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



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner


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