Your movie Tied in
Blood - in a few words, what is it about?
medium investigating the deaths of a family in a haunted house discovers a
horror far more real than any ghost story.
How did the project come into being in the first place?
The idea behind Tied in
started out as a
script for a short film that revolved around a haunted house. Then the
idea expanded and we considered making three separate short films, each
one a different characterís interpretation on the same set of events,
which when played together would make an anthology feature. But as the
script developed we became more ambitious and decided to shoot it as a
complete feature film, retaining elements of the original idea and
focusing on the theme of guilt. We brought in another production company,
Rotunda Films, to handle the finance, production and distribution.
A few words about your writer David Ross, and what was your
Working with David has been a real
pleasure. We bounce ideas off one another really well and each of us is
able to challenge the other to get the best out of him. David will defend
his work where necessary, but at the same time heís always willing to
take on suggestions if they will improve the story.
I suppose the biggest difference
between this and our previous films is that Davidís job didnít just
end when the script was finished. Making a feature film is a massive
challenge and as one of the co-producers he had to roll his sleeves up and
help out! Weíve gotten to know each other even better during the making
of this film and have become such good friends that I was best man at
Davidís wedding as he was best man at mine. They say never mix work and
friendship, but what do they know? It seems to work for us. Maybe thatís
because we donít see making films as work!
Among other things, your movie is
about spiritualism. Your personal take on the subject?
I am not a believer in
spiritualism but would never knock anyoneís spiritual beliefs as I feel
that the quality of most peopleís lives is determined not just by events
but by the meanings that they attach to them.
Some of the basic principles of
spiritualism tie in well with the themes of Tied in
has a strong belief in free will; the responsibility for any bad deed is
placed with the individual and nobody but the offender can put right the
wrong. Also, the spirit is thought to develop through different levels of
the spirit world, improving as it learns in an aim to achieve perfection.
The theme of guilt and ultimate personal responsibility is central to the
story, as is the possibility of forgiveness and redemption when someone
takes responsibility for their actions.
David Ross did a lot of research
into spiritualism when working on the script, and he shared some of this
with the cast and me. I also remember attending a sťance at a
spiritualist church near where I was living at the time. Unfortunately, I
felt that this particular medium was a fraud playing on other peopleís
misfortunes. When I relayed
this story to David Ross he was able to bring some of it out in the
character of Pete (Robertís boss).
sure you have already grown tired of people likening Tied in
Blood to Rashomon
due to its similar basic structure. Would you at all care to touch the
Myself and David Ross
(Screenwriter) only became aware of Rashomon
months after completing post
production on Tied in
Blood. That might sound a bit ignorant because
itís a great film, but for me itís been a late introduction to classic
Japanese Cinema; something I hope to see more of!
The concept for Tied in
out of the idea of making three short films which when assembled would
form a feature, essentially showing the same story from different
viewpoints. In the end we decided to just shoot is as a feature but kept
the three perspectives.
Kenneth G. Hodgson
How would you describe your
directorial approach to your subject at hand? And did having to tell a
story from three different perspectives pose any special challenges?
I knew my limitations and tried to
keep things simple. I had a very clear idea of what each scene is about
and that formed the basis of how we approached the scene both on set and
Much of the story is told in
flashbacks as different characters recount the events that sealed the fate
of Georgeís family. There are similarities and differences in each tale
and Robert (and the audience) must decipher the clues to work out the
truth. This was challenging to shoot (particularly when youíre shooting
out of sequence) as I had to think about the impact of each flashback
not just on the overall film but also on the other flashback scenes.
can you tell us about your cast and crew?
I think the strength of the script
helped us attract a strong cast. We had no track record as film makers but
we did have a good story, so we gave out a short synopsis and script
segments to anyone interested in auditioning. Literally hundreds of people
turned up to read so we were able to be very selective.
Chris Leach and Laura O'Donoughue, who play siblings
Tamsin and Stuart, auditioned together. Although they had not met each
other before the auditions there was a good chemistry between them. You
felt that they had a strong relationship and this grew throughout the
A number of very good actresses
read for the part of Gillian and I felt there were two or three who could
have played the part. We went with Denise Cooke as her take on the
character was the most subtle and interesting.
Paul McEwan was the last person we
auditioned for Robert. I knew as soon as he started reading that weíd
found our man. There was no need to see anyone else!
David Beaumont introduced me to
Kenneth G Hodgson, an actor heíd worked with on a short film called
Frank. I got on well with Ken and I liked his reel, so we cast him as
Most of the production crew were
people David Beaumont had worked with on previous films. They were
talented, hard working and gelled well as a team. Most of the
post-production team were people none of us had worked with before but
they all shared a similar vision for the film. I was very happy with the
post-production work, particularly the score, sound design and mixing
which really sell the atmosphere.
I think one of
the key elements of Tied in
Blood is its location - so what can you tell us about yours, and
why was it chosen?
In the early treatments, the story
was set in a city and the family had recently moved into the house.
However, a feeling of isolation was important for the story and the idea
of having the characters physically isolated reflected their mental state
and felt just right for the script.
Several members of the production
team set about scouting for locations and adverts were placed on several
film-making forums such as Shooting
People (http://www.shootingpeople.org), saying that we were looking for something slightly run down. We
saw some real dives. I remember going to a place in
which was empty, smelly and sparsely furnished. The landlord told me
heíd tried to rent it out to students but even they wouldnít take it.
After seeing what looked and smelt like pooh smeared on the walls we got
out of there as quickly as possible!
Eventually we found a holiday
cottage in rural Yorkshire
which was perfect for the interiors. The exteriors were shot in the
moorland around my parentís farm in
West Yorkshire, which is only accessible by navigating an off road vehicle through a
mile of dirt track. Being so remote was great for the story but it proved
a logistical challenge to say the least. It was also early December and
the weather laid rest to some of our more ambitious plans for tracking and
jib shots. We ended up having to cut down the number of exteriors but that
made the finished film tighter and faster paced. However, the scenery in
that area is absolutely spectacular and itís a shame that we didnít
really get to make the most of it. Given the opportunity I intend to
revisit it on later projects, although maybe Iíll opt for a summer shoot
Chris Leach, Amie Morris
What can you tell us about audience
and critical reception of Tied in
Blood so far?
So far it seems to have gone down really well. I
havenít seen any bad reviews and the audience have been really
responsive at all the screenings Iíve been to. It seems to have a wider
appeal than we expected. Iíve had people who you wouldnít normally
expect to watch a low budget horror film come up to me and say they loved
Before Tied in
Blood, you have directed a bunch of shorts. What can you tell us
about those, and what motivated you to accept the challenge to tackle a
feature? And in what way does directing a feature film differ from making
After graduating I was still
living in Bradford (my old university town) and working for a creative
Leeds. David Ross moved in down the road and we started going drinking
together. We talked a lot about films and then he showed me some of his
scripts which were all really interesting takes on traditional horror; a
genre that we were both big fans of. We decided to make a short film which
turned out to be the first of several and led to us forming the production
Pictures. A feature film was a natural progression.
Making shorts is a great way to
learn about film-making but nothing can fully prepare you for a feature
film, which definitely requires a lot more stamina. Tied in
first time directing professional actors as my previous short films had
just featured mates. Luckily there were no big egos, but the actors did
ask more questions than I was used to. To get the best out of them, I
couldnít just say; ďDo thatĒ. Iíd have to explain why; to convince
them it was a good idea. This meant I had to be at my best and I was
relieved that Iíd prepared so thoroughly! Even though I storyboarded
everything, sometimes theyíd come up with suggestions which I thought
were really good and weíd tear up the original plans and start again.
Often these were some of my favourite moments in the film.
What got you into filmmaking in the first
place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
My childhood fantasy was to be a
special effects artist, inspired no doubt by the live-action/puppet series
The Storyteller and Ray Harryhausenís
stop motion creatures in Jason and the Argonauts. Seeing that I was
developing a keen interest in films, my dad used to take me to the cinema
regularly, something we still do together even now.
Apart from a Film Council course
on script development, I havenít had any sort of formal training. My
parents never wanted me to be a filmmaker, so I didnít go to film
school. Instead I studied marketing and advertising. But I spent a lot of
time helping out on student films and probably read more books on film
making in my university years than I did on marketing! Iíve worked
briefly for the BBC and been a crew member on shoots for features and
television ads. But ultimately most of what I learned about filmmaking
came from just doing it. I made several short films before attempting to
make a feature. Tied in
has been a huge learning curve but Iím
extremely proud of the way itís turned out.
have also produced two movies by Jemshaid Ashraf, Murdered and Skyggen.
Would you care to talk about those for a bit, and how did these films come
To be honest I think of these much more as
Jemshaidís movies than mine as I had very little creative involvement.
Jemshaid and I go back a long way and I agreed to help him with the
logistics and organisation on these films as they were on a very tight
budget. Jemshaid was kind enough to credit me as producer and Iím very
grateful to him for that, as without these movies under my belt I donít
think I would have been able to get Tied in
off the ground.
Any future projects you'd like to talk
Iím working on a script at the
moment called Eternal Darkness alongside a talented young screenwriter
called Joe Harding. Itís about a girl who doesnít need to sleep.
Needless to say, being a horror film, she soon finds herself living a
waking nightmare. Iím hoping that Tied in
will be my next
feature, providing we can raise the money to make it.
What can you tell us about your production
Weíre a UK-based
company specialising in horror films and psychological thrillers,
co-founded by myself and David Ross. Our first production was the short
in 2005. We then went on to make two other short films: The
Wild Card and High
Heels in High Places. The company incorporated in 2006, trading as
Slate One Productions Ltd. Our first feature-film Tied in
is out now.
Many of your films are of the horror
variety. A genre especially dear to you?
I absolutely love horror films but Iím also a fan
of many genres. However, when it comes to making films and marketing them
Iíve found horror lends itself to a low-budget better than other genres.
I enjoy a really diverse range of
films. Iíll go and see Tim Burton films for their visual spectacle but
also love the work of Scorsese as well as the great classics from the
likes of Hitchcock and Orson Welles. In terms of my inspiration to make
films, that came from reading about other filmmakers who have started off
making their own films outside the system and gone on to achieve great
things. The stories behind filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi
and Christopher Nolan have certainly been a great source of encouragement.
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I do have a really broad taste in films and I always find
it hard to pick just a few. My favourite horror films are Psycho, The
Rosemaryís Baby, Carrie, Alien and
Jaws (if you count that as a horror film).
Other films I really like are Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather and
Goodfellas. In terms of blockbusters my favourites are Terminator 2 and the
original Star Wars.
and of course, films you really deplore?
of the worst films Iíve seen are actually great fun to watch, Tommy Wiseauís
The Room and Claudio Fragassoís
Troll 2 being two great examples.
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped bring Tied in
the screen. I feel very fortunate to have had such a great bunch of
people and an amazing script to work with for my first feature. Although
this was the most challenging thing Iíve ever done, I enjoyed every
minute of it and Iím very proud of the way it turned out.