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An Interview with Sebastian Roberts, Director of Cured and The Viewing

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2018

Sebastian Roberts on (re)Search my Trash


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


Cured is a short horror film about a family who is up caught up in a mass suicide arranged by their cult and fight for their survival.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Cured? And is any of the story based on actual suicide cults/Did you do some research on the topic?


I came up with the idea as a satire of modern day groups and movements. When I looked into the subject I came across a mass suicide in Guyana, which is said to be one of the most famous. There was also one involving a cult that had something to do with aliens, I can't remember what it was called. I read online stories about peopleís experiences in cults and their views on it. This helped me flesh out my characters. For inspiration I remembered a feature called Black Death starring Sean Bean that I watched years ago.


To what extent could you identify with Cured's lead character Jess ... or any of the other characters, really?


I used to be brought to mass on Sundays and I wasn't too keen on it. I didn't understand it and thought it seemed meaningless. Jess is based on that part of me from years ago. She doesn't understand the brethren and only tolerates it. Jennifer is a fanatic who looks up to Isabelle and found a strong sense of purpose in joining the brethern. She's afraid of losing it and holds on as tight as possible, whatever the cost.


Do talk about your movie's approach to horror, and is that a genre at all dear to you?



Horror is one of my favourites because itís one of the most creative and fun. Itís also one of the deepest of genres because it centres around our strongest impulse which is staying alive and fear of the unknown.


A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I wanted to focus on Jessís experience through the ordeal and show how it changes her and her world.


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


The cast were from Northern Star Acting, and Iíve known some of them for nearly two years like Sharon Spink [Sharon Spink interview - click here], Lucy Marshall, Chris Dudley [Chris Dudley interview - click here], etc. Iíve worked with them in class and other projects. Theyíre a fantastic bunch and weíve a lot of fun moments together. I worked with Kayla Leigh Holdsworth once on some showreel material and was introduced to everyone else who played their parts well. I knew where their strengths lay and which suited with which character.


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


Overall it was fun. The cast were great to work with, everyone was brillant. The crew did well too. I couldnít have asked for a better team.


Another new movie of yours is The Viewing - so what's that one about?


The Viewing is about an optimistic couple viewing a new house to live in led by the landlord, thatís how it starts and Iím not gonna say anymore.


The story for The Viewing was conceived by yourself and your cast - so what can you tell us about the creative process there, and how did the project come into being in the first place?


The Viewing

It was a group assignment. We talked about it during an acting class and went over different ideas. It had to involve everyone and done in one location. Once we decided on what we were doing I wrote it into a screenplay with input from the cast.


So do talk about The Viewing's cast then, and why exactly those people?


I know them from class, so I knew where their strengths lay and which character would best suit. They're very talented and professional and I'm very fortunate to have worked with them.


Again, do talk about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


I once heard a quote from director Andy Muschietti, who made the 2017 version of It, that you have to respect what scares you otherwise you canít scare anyone. Since I watched J-horror films like Ringu and Ju-on, Iíve found long black haired, white dressed undead girls terrifying. I wanted to film it in a similar style to J-horror and see what I can do with it.


What can you tell us about that shoot then?


My mentor and acting coach Eirian Cohen [Eirian Cohen interview - click here] allowed us to use her old house as a shooting location and we filmed it in about 3-4 hours. I forgot to bring the sound recording equipment, which was a bummer so I had to use ADR for the actorís lines. Overall it was fun shoot.


With you also being an actor, were you never tempted to step in front of the camera in either of these movies (apart from the final scene in The Viewing of course)?


The Viewing

I like my films to be judged by my work on them and I find it a little self-indulgent to star in your own film. I only fill in if itís needed, like for The Viewing it was.


The $64-question of course, when and where will both movies be released onto the general public?


We donít have a specific date yet, maybe after their festival run. Weíll wait and see.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I'm currently working on completing a short domestic drama film called Vows which I wrote and directed last year. It's about an abused wife who has an affair with her husband's best friend. This one is the first film I've produced.

Iím also currently writing another short slasher film, which I plan on filming this year. Thereís also a feature length version of Cured in the works.


What got you into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I've loved films since childhood and used to constantly go to the cinema (still do). At first I took an interest in acting, but found I was better at making up scenes then acting in them at the time. I studied Film & Media Production at college and Visual Effects at university with a few seminars along the way. I learned writing and directing at college on a basic level, then advanced on my own. Iím still learning today.


On various films you've had numerous jobs on both sides of the camera - so what do you enjoy the most, and honestly, what could you do without?


I enjoy acting, directing and writing. Iíve been a sound recordist quite a lot and to be honest Iím not very fond of doing it. I wouldnít do it again unless I get paid.


Do talk about your filmwork prior to Cured and The Viewing, in whatever position?


I made my first film when I was 8-10 with lego figures with a cardboard cut stage using my dadís camera called Rookie Robot - everyone laughed at it when they saw it. I didnít make another film until I went to college. I did visual effects for a few features in my second to last year at university and did some on-set roles for indie filmmakers after I graduated.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Iím very visual. I visualise a lot of my ideas and I'd like to put as much information as possible in a single shot. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist so I never accept 'okay' as a quality. I let the cast and crew give any ideas and suggestions they might have because I know they want it to work, plus they might know something I don't.


Filmmakers, actors, whoever else who inspire you?


Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are my role models in filmmaking. Iím also inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, Ridley Scott and Tim Burton. Iíve recently taken an interest in Akira Kurosawa after watching Seven Samurai.

In acting, I thought Marlon Brando's acting in The Godfather was phenomenal and saw Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove who I thought was brilliant in all his roles. Iím also a fan of Michael Fassbender, Christoph Waltz and Will Smith.


Your favourite movies?


Thatís a difficult one because there are so many great films I love. One of my all-time favourites is The Dark Knight, mostly because I'm a Batman fanboy. Iíve recently seen Annihilation by Alex Garland on Netflix which I thought was great.


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


Alone in the Darkí is one of the worst Iíve ever seen so far. There was one I saw called The Garbage Pail Kids Movie which I thought was revolting.


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


Iíve recently been set to star in a short film with Sharon Spink [Sharon Spink interview - click here], who is also writing the script, which is exciting. It's based on an improvisation we did in class.

Iíd like thank my mentor Eirian Cohen [Eirian Cohen interview - click here] for believing in me and my acting coach Carl Backhouse. Iíd also like to thank my assistant director Jenny Edwards (also editor for Cured) for her dedication to all weíve worked on together.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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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