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An Interview with Philip Gardiner, Director of The Stone

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2011

Philip Gardiner on (re)Search my Trash


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Your film The Stone: No Soul Unturned - in a few words, what is it about?


Well, there’s a few levels to it, but I’ll give you the surface level and maybe the rest will come out in this interview. There’s an old mansion, its in a terrible state. A group of spiritual seekers turn up and camp in the grounds. They’re watched by several folk that appear to be witches of some kind. Slowly they discover there’s something strange about the place and are guided to dig up an old relic – The Stone. This unlocks nightmares one at a time from each individual and releases a golem figure.


What were your main inspirations for writing the movie?


I suppose it’s years of writing on esoteric subjects, and stones have always been held in high regard by mankind. They’ve been used to take possession of souls, contact the divine, and for performing all kinds of magical rituals. All over the globe man has set up standing stones and to this day there’s a lot of mystery involved. Of course there’s the ultimate concept of the philosopher’s stone, the core of the self used for perfecting the individual. Our Stone is the exact opposite, it draws out the evil within. The other influences were of course films like The Omen, the Hammer House of Horror-series, The Exorcist and several others. To me, those films had more depth, more history. Some films are just slasher or paranormal events with next to no explanation why! I always want to know what’s behind it, and can this film explain some of the greater mysteries!


Before making The Stone, you have directed a virtual busload of documentaries, more often than not about occult/esoteric topics. Did this in any way influence your film?


Oh for sure. Before making docs I’d written a dozen books on the subject, been around the world, met strange and bizarre people, been invited into peculiar occult groups and secret societies. I eventually learned so much, that I was often asked to speak at these places, to tell them what they were supposed to know! But I have throughout maintained my individual status and never joined. I’ve made docs about everything from biblical mysteries such as the Ark and Shroud to Quantum physics and psychology, so it appears pretty broad. The truth is, they’re all roughly about the same thing anyhow – whatever mysteries there are, we’ve created them from within our mind.


How would you describe your directorial approach?


I could start this answer with saying how others describe my directing and that’d be interesting. Firm and confident are two nice ways of saying strict and dictatorial! And yet, the team I have around me are so loyal, and so good that I wonder…

Whatever I direct I always want to be different. I can’t stand just doing the same thing, copying others. I lost count on The Stone how many people told me to watch this or that. It was hard work, because I utterly refused to watch anything I did not want to be influenced by anyway. I already had my vision and I didn’t want it altering. I had a vision of a beautifully shot, classy British weird film and I think we achieved that, which itself is amazing considering the zero budget.


Your producer Nik Spencer seems to have helped out in almost every other department as well. What can you tell us about the guy, and how did you two first hook up?


Nik Spencer, well, I met him when making a Robin Hood documentary. The local radio had run a story and told Nik to come and meet me. He did and we immediately hit it off. He ran home to get his camera and ever since the guy has worked tirelessly on every level of filmmaking.


A few words about your cast and crew?


Every single one of them, from the guys who produced music to the actors, from the prop finders to the joiner, they were all 110% committed to the vision. I have never in my life worked with a nicer, more hardworking group and I respect each and every one of them for what they did.


What can you tell us about the film's music score? From what I've heard, you have taken great care in finding just the right bands to fit the film's atmosphere ...


The title track was written, performed and produced by a good friend of mine, the Dutch artist, Corjan. It is absolutely incredible and he worked so hard getting it just right for me over weeks. Hats off to the man. In addition to Corjan, we had music submitted in hundreds and it took me days to sift through and select. In truth, the film can appear to be a very long music video. Each song was selected for it’s specific meaning at certain points within the film, folk should listen to the lyrics! On top of that, one of the cast, Wes Dolan, turned out to be a musical genius and wrote and performed a special song in the film. He’s now got a record deal.


For a film like this, the right location is of utmost importance, I would imagine. What can you tell us about Annesley Hall in Nottinghamshire, England, where you shot your movie, and why did you feel it was perfect for The Stone?


We actually started with the Top Gear site, an old airbase, but it just wasn’t right at all for lots of reasons. Then Nik Spencer mentioned this old hall and so we ventured up there. The very moment I stepped onto the grounds I knew it was right. It was spooky as hell even in the middle of summer. You just can’t pay for that kind of feel. We had several days up there checking things out and then we took all the actors over to see it, the reaction was priceless, they were all overcome. You simply have to be there, but I do hope we’ve captured some of the spirit of the place in film!


Annesley Hall was once owned by Lord Byron. Did his work and/or reputation in any way influence your film?


Well, he lived there off and on, he didn’t actually own it. When we investigated the history and found that the mad bad Lord Byron had been there, I introduced his character into the film itself as a catalyst and shot some period footage. We then filmed a possession scene in his very bedroom.


In many ways, your other feature film, Cam Girl, stands in stark contrast to The Stone in being a rather realistic one-person, one-set psychothriller. How would you compare the two?


I love the fact that they’re so different to be honest. I’d hate to get labelled because I like diversity. Cam Girl is a single person narrative, intense and emotional, but The Stone is also a little like that because we focus in on each individual to get inside their heads. Both films also have hidden messages that I learned from various sources such as the Rosicrucians, and this in my opinion adds depth.


Somewhere, I've read that you're planning a sequel to The Stone. Is there any truth to this?


At this moment in time I have no intention of making The Stone 2, rumours eh, funny old things. I’m in the middle of making Paranormal Haunting: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn, a very weird film that will explain several ancient mysteries all at once. Then I’ll be on to a host of other films, including a very X-Files type film that I’ve managed to get serious funding for.


The $64-question of course: When and where will The Stone be released?


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The Stone will be released in August on DVD etc and there is already a lot of planning afoot with magazine front covers, stories and other press.


Your and your film's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Well, best place to go is and my own website is


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


A message to all filmmakers out there. Stay focussed, positive, don’t take no for an answer, find another way to get your vision. If you keep going long enough, you can make it happen.


Thanks for the interview!


And thanks to you my friend. Hopefully many more to come.


Sure, as long as you keep filmmaking, I reserve myself the right to poke my nose into your affairs ;)


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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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