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An Interview with Roger Sampson, Director of The Witches of the Watch

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2019

Films directed by Roger Sampson on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie The Witches of the Watch - in a few words, what is it about?


The Witches of the Watch is a story of a mother and daughter who move to a new neighborhood and little do they know the neighborhood is "run" by an all women watch committee. They are invited to the watch meeting and the intentions of the watch members becomes clear.


The Witches of the Watch is what I'd call a suburban horror story - so have you worked any actual experiences into your movie (not the witches I hope), is the film in any kind or form autobiographical?


Not specifically no. The themes the story hits on are very real to every neighborhood though. It deals with issues like power struggles, secrets, relational drama and acceptance.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing The Witches of the Watch?


I was definitely inspired by sources like Desperate Housewives, The Witches of Eastwick as well as films like The Devil Wears Prada, where the superintention of the characters is the antithesis of their stated intentions.


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!


Like all my stories, I introduce horror elements into human stories, both to make them interesting to watch but also to accentuate their message. Horror dilemmas in a character range from the interpersonal (the horror comes from within them) to personal (relational) to extra personal (outside forces). In The Witches of the Watch, Holly is so trying to avoid revealing herself while Lois is doing her best to scare Holly into submission, though her superintention is to give up control. Playing on real fears is what makes horror effective, and is not always about blood and guts.


Most of The Witches of the Watch takes place in one single living room - so what did you do to keep things interesting despite this limitation of sets?


With the exception of a few lines of dialogue most of what you see in the film is improvisation. In fact other than about 10% of the script, the dialogue in the film is improvised variations of the script. The cast was able to have a lot of fun with it.


What can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I wanted this film, with its all female cast, to bond together. If you over direct an ensemble, you lack chemistry and organic energy. That's why I cut them loose with the improv. The result is a group of 7 ladies who had a lot of fun playing off one another and their performance shows that.


Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


The plan all along was to use The Witches of the Watch as the first of a series of 5 short film shoots and wrap around story using the same key cast. Since we shot that film the rest of the project had to be put on hold due to my wife's health, but Gwendolynn Murphy, Ashley Felkner, Gracie Whitton and Tricia Mauro were our main repeating cast members throughout the series. They are all amazing actors. Kara Rainer, Natali Jones and Katy Key round out the watch members and were selected for the various traits they brought to the cast which created diversity. Katy was the young wife, Natali brought an Italian type edge and Kara just blew us away with her audition and beat out several other amazing actors for her role.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The shoot was a total blast. That being said, it rained the entire weekend. In fact we had to incorporate rain and water imagery into the film as a whole in order to get the film shot. The shots of it raining are real. And thankfully it didn't stop all weekend so we had continuity throughout.


So where can The Witches of the Watch be seen?


The film is touring the festival circuit and is just getting started. Its been officially selected to Lost Sanity Film Festival in Hoboken and will screen later this month. More festival news is coming soon and can be seen on social media for announcements.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Witches of the Watch?


Other than the reviews we've received from online journalism outlets, which has been widely positive so far, we haven't received much feedback yet.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


At some point we may pick this project back up and finish it.


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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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!!!


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