Your upcoming movie Leave Now - in a few words, what is it
Leave Now tells the story of Rose Montefiore, recently
bereaved, who revisits the seaside town where she first met her late
husband. However, instead of finding the peace and quiet she seeks, Rose
is disturbed by recurring problems with an electrical fault and has to
call upon the services of local electrician, Titus, and his son, Robbie.
When Rose saves Robbie's life after an accident she finds herself caught
up in the lives of those around her, past and present, who need her help.
After she discovers a forgotten phonograph in the attic and listens to the
distant voices recorded on an old wax cylinder, she begins to unlock a
secret that lies deep within the house itself.
With Leave Now being a ghost story
of sorts, is that something you can at all relate to, and what can you
tell us about your very own approach to the genre? And some of your genre
I don't believe in ghosts. I'm a very
evidence-based person, and extraordinary claims need extraordinary
evidence to support them. Every instance of the supernatural that I've
come across can be explained by natural causes. On the other hand, we are
surrounded by forces that we accept as normal because we are so familiar
with them - gravity, magnetism, electricity, time - and yet when you stop
to think about them they are mind-blowingly bizarre and have not yet been
explained at their most fundamental level. Leave Now attempts
to tap into this aspect of our world - familiar, yet utterly strange.
Genre favourites? The Innocents, The Others, Don't Look Now.
I've read somewhere that you've been
inspired by listening to 100-year-old phonograph recordings and the effect
they had on you - care to elaborate?
One obvious thing to
say about a phonograph is that it doesn't use electricity. It creates a
purely mechanical reproduction of the human voice: Someone spoke a hundred
years ago, which moved some air that moved a cutting stylus that cuts a
groove. One hundred years later we reverse the process and the same air
moves again. There is nothing that separates that person from us, except
time. When I first heard a phonograph wax cylinder in the flesh, so to
speak, I remarked that it felt like I was listening to ghosts.
Other sources of
inspiration when dreaming up Leave Now?
Ultimately, that's what the film is really about. I believe the heightened
emotions of grief can cause us to perceive the world in a different way
and so experience, or even create, what we call supernatural phenomena.
about your directorial approach to your story at hand!
audience's imagination is my most powerful tool. What's around the corner?
What's in the corner of their eye? How to make the audience be scared or
moved not by what they see and hear in the moment, but by what's coming
next. The scariest ghost is the one you can't see.
can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
Bolioli plays the central role of Rose Montefiore. Rose is grieving, but
for much of the time chooses not to reveal her sadness to other people
(and sometimes even to herself). So I was looking for a character whose
smile contained a subtext of melancholy. Sylvie, not at all a melancholic
person in real life, was able to do this brilliantly. The character Titus
is a hard man, old-fashioned and unable to express his feelings, and yet
deeply vulnerable and fragile. A tragic figure. Jerry Anderson was able to
bring those two sides of Titus's character to bear in a wonderful
a film like yours, it always seems that location is key - so what can you
tell us about yours, and the advantages but also challenges filming there?
cottage that Rose stays in is a key location - you might even say that
it's a character in its own right. We were able to secure an 18th century
cottage which was pretty much the perfect set as soon as you walked in.
Having said that, we used two other locations for the cottage - one for
the outside shots and another for some significant scenes in the attic. It
was also important to me to capture the atmosphere of being by the sea.
All exterior locations were shot locally in my home town of Ramsgate. The
sun rising early over the wind farm out at sea looks like a million
dollars - and it's free. Challenges? Mainly audio I would say. The sound
of the sea and the wind is hugely evocative, but is a nightmare for the
sound department. However, as long as you are aware in advance, these
things can be dealt with.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shot over a period of two months, but not every day was a filming day.
Because all cast and crew were local, it was logistically possible to do
this. I think we managed to create a very happy on-set atmosphere and by
the end we felt like a family. Our producer Tracy Russell was brilliant in
ensuring this. All of this is important in its own right of course, but I
think it also has a positive impact on the quality of the performances and
on the footage itself. We had no primadonnas or jobsworths and it was a
total pleasure for me to work with these special people.
$64-question of course, when and where will the film be released onto the
We are speaking with distributors at the
moment and are planning a general release in 2017. Before that there will
be an out-of-competition screening at the Ramsgate International Film
& TV Festival in March.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
in development is The Forge (working title) which is a drama
about the impact of World War One on the people left behind in England.
The screenplay is being written by screenwriter Adrian Bain, based on an
idea of mine. I have several other projects in their very early stages of
development - I'll probably run out of time before I can make them all!
got you into making movies in the first place, and did you receive any
formal training on the subject?
I think sound and music got
me into filmmaking. Until about ten years ago it would have said
“musician” on my passport. As a child and teenager, music was my main
source of visual story-telling. Prog rock gets a lot of bad press these
days but for me it was a way of making films in my imagination because it
told stories. It's the oldest cliché in the book but it's always worth
repeating - your film is 50% sound. And yet I still hear some directors
describe film as primarily a visual medium. In my opinion this is to
misunderstand not only how film works but also how the human brain works.
Evidence is growing that we all have synaesthesia (overlapping of the
senses) to some extent. This means that sound doesn't just enhance your
visuals, it changes them. Sound and music are incredibly important to me
when making a film, it is often the driving force behind a scene, and even
when initially writing a script it plays a crucial part.
I've had no
formal training, I've learnt by watching, listening, reading, talking -
and most importantly, by doing.
What can you tell us
about your filmwork prior to Leave Now?
is my first feature film. I was lucky enough for my first short film Is Anybody There? to win
Best Director at the Rob Knox Film
Festival in 2009. Making my next short film A Piper's Maggot
convinced me that it would be possible to make a feature. Certain themes
contained in both short films return in Leave Now, as indeed did
some of the cast and crew.
you describe yourself as a director?
What I'd like to think
I am and what I actually am are probably two different things - you'd have
to ask the cast and crew! A director's skills need to be many and varied,
but what I think is vital is to be able to read people - who's happy and
who's not, and why. Be sensitive to dead spots in performance, and discuss
solutions. A good director is a good psychologist. I like the set to be a
mixture of calmness and energy. I come to the set not only with as much
preparation as is humanly possible but also with the willingness to change
(or throw away) that preparation if needs be. Have a plan B, and a plan C.
And a plan X.
Nicolas Roeg, Terrence Malick, Anthony
Minghella, Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen Poliakoff.
Your favourite movies?
a difficult question to answer! I tend to end up selecting on an entirely
sentimental basis so here goes: The Thin Red Line, Atonement,
Minority Report, Apollo 13, The Jungle Book (original
Disney animation of course!),
Psycho, Don't Look
Now, Battle of Britain, Back To The Future
(part 1), Memento, American Beauty.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Wow, that's a
strong word! I guess I do get frustrated by action movies (or any genre,
come to that) that have shallow stories and characters. Sometimes the more
money that is spent on a film, the weaker it gets. If you try to keep
everyone happy, you keep no one happy. But I don't deplore even that. It's
all incredibly hard at any budget and I take my hat off to everyone that
succeeds in making a film.
Facebook, whatever else?
www.burntorchidfilms.com. You'll find our first teaser trailer there too.
It's been a real pleasure, thank you.
Special thanks to Richard S Barnett, founder of IIWYK!!!