Your upcoming movie The Pact - in a few words, what is it
Three high school friends meet in adulthood and decide to change the
terrible fate life has in store for them - with a dramatic
What were your sources of inspiration when
writing The Pact, and is any of it based on personal experiences,
First and foremost,
before acting or directing, I'm a film fan. When I decided I
wanted to write a film I wanted a film I'd pay to see, and I wanted to
write somethiing with strong female characters. And I hate hate
HATE the films where an ordinary woman is placed in a situation where 30
minutes in she's making headshots at half a mile or is a kung fu expert
- for me the story had to be ordinary women pushed out of their comfort
zones but in a very believable in organic way. I took a lot from
the author Dean R. Koontz, whose characters are generally all guy or girl
next door types who end up doing the most unbelievable things but make
you wonder: 'yeah but that could totallhy happen how WOULD you deal with
something like that?' So yes, I took inspiration from that type of
book but then for the antagonists I took my personal hates in people and
turned them into characters for my leads to bounce off!
As far as I know, The Pact
first film as writer and director - so what made you want to step behind
the camera in the first place? And how would you describe yourself as a
writer and as a director?
Truthfully I only started writing when my wife fell pregant with my
first (and her third) child. I was 41 and knew this was my only
time being 'dad' from birth (as well as being an awesome stepdad of
course!) so I completelhy stopped acting. Literally from out
every week to nothing - I went cold turkey! But man, I needed a
new addiction, and apart from the occasional rum I'm pretty straight edge
so I started writing. I wrote a full length film in about 3 months
and it was pants, very 'on the nose' and lacking in subtely. So I
wondered if I could condense it into a short that would tell the same
story, but that was a non starter - so yeah that's when I decided to write
what initially was a one woman thriller that I then saw as 3 women with
3 different stories that intertwined, and thus The Pact was born!
I'm a sucker for a good thriller and there are enough twists and turns
that made me excited to see it brought to life.
Directing-wise I never wanted or intended to direct. It's not
something I've done and my stance was there were much better qualified
people to do it and I could just be there for backstory info and maybe
relax a bit more! But I kept telling Chris (Chris Dudley [Chris
Dudley interview - click here], producer
of The Pact and 'Vic' in the film) I could see every frame, every camera
angle in my head so he kept pushing for me to direct and I gave in.
What can you tell us about The Pact's
approach to the thriller genre?
Like I said above about unrealistic characters, I didn't want the women
in The Pact to be the sidekick, the dutiful wife or the secret
superhero. I wanted to play 'what if' with (what I think are truly
horrible) real life situations. I wanted to see what happened in
my head if these women were maybe pushed a little too far and decided
'we ain't taking this crap anymore'. I hope people don't COPY the
film for sure but I want people to see the mice roar and have some power
for once in a film without them completely losing who they are as
people. We'll see!
Do talk about your
directorial approach to your story at hand!
blessed to have a cast that have read the script and asked a lot of very
smart questions about the characters and their motivations, so when the
camera started rolling I've already given a brief of what I'm looking for
and they deliver. I've very rarely so far had to make tweaks or
ask for something different because they just 'get' it and I'd also say
we have a very relaxed and friendly set. No drama unless it's in
front of the camera please!
You also appear in front of the camera in The Pact
- so what can you tell us about your character, what did you draw
upon to bring him to life, and did you write him with yourself in mind from the
isn't a nice bloke, and I've played this type of chafacter before.
He's a bully who thinks he's God's gift to women and they should be
happy he even looks at them - completely unlike me who's married and
generally considered to be the softest, nicest guy ever! I didn't
start out planning for me to play him but when I wrote a scene where he
punches someone in the face I kinda had to make it me because I have a
qualification in unarmed combat for stage and screen (plus a judo and
karate background) and I couldn't get past the idea that I wanted this to
be the safest punch in the world, so in my head it could only be me
throwing it, and so I ended up as Pete.
What can you tell us about the rest of your
cast, and why exactly these people?
Oh wow, where do I start? Better go with the three stars
of The Pact, eh? Lucy Oke [Lucy
Oke interview - click here] has been a friend and colleague of mine
for over 12 years and basically schooled me in the art of scaring people
in live action attractions. When I was casting for Evie, I was
talking to Lucy and Chris about another project and mentioned the
character and ruing that I was finding it hard to find a suitable
person. Lucy was almost waving her arms at me going 'duh, hello!'
and I kinda had the lightbulb 'ohhhh yeeeeeeahh!' moment and cursed
myself for not thinking about it before - Lucy has worked with Chris
before (they play husband and wife), and the chemistry is great so that
worked well, she's amazing. Danni Shepherd (Jenny) [Danni
Shepherd interview - click here] I'd not worked
with before but I've seen her in other films and was incredibly
impressed, so when Chris said he'd just filmed with her and asked if I
wanted to approach her my first worry was would she even work with us as
a debuting filmmaking team? Danni is so versatile - she could
make a career playing a certain type but she pushes herself into
different roles and out of her comfort zone - and she accepted and is
enjoying playing yet another very layered, deep character. Ellen
Carnazza interview - click here] is the Yin to my Yang in the murder mystery world - we've
played husband and wife, niece and uncle, we've killed each other SO
many times, but Ellen is also a very accomplished film and stage actress,
and again I just prayed she'd like the script and take part -
fortunately she loved it and is making the role of Emma entirely her
own. Chris (Vic) I've also known for many years and he's the
beating heart of getting this film made, he recruited our
cinematographer (Andy Wright) and pulled together the locations plus got
us Dale Hooley [Dale Hooley
interview - click here] - a wonderful actor friend of Chris' who is stepping into
the role of out third 'bad 'un' Lloyd.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
it's a laugh a minute, I've got some real live wires on my hands but
it's a great mix of laugh while we're setting up, then when the red light
hits they are SO damned good at what they do. We shot the first
scene with all 3 ladies and I was so immersed in the story they were
telling I completely forgot I wrote it and honestly I could have
watched those 3 characters chat all day (and the beauty is they could
have ad-libbed it too). If it's a traumatic scene there are hugs
afterwards and we all get on so well - people are going to think these
ladies really have known each other for years but the truth is this is
the first time they've ever met and a real testament to their talent.
I know, The Pact only just wrapped - so what's the schedule ahead,
and any idea when the movie might be out yet?
We're not QUITE
wrapped, we had an illness and had to peg some scenes back, but late
January we're already booked for the last scenes, then it'll be a Leeds-based cast and crew (and press!) premiere followed by as many festivals
as I can shoehorn it into.
Any future projects beyond The Pact?
Lucy, Chris and I have a short
horror in the pre-writing stage, and after this I want to go back to the
full length film with Chris to re-write it and get that filmed. The concept and story are good but it needs better execution
- so yeah
next is a full length thriller tentatively called Choices and a short
horror - our very own Cornetto Trilogy.
movie's website, social media, whatever else?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results?
The links below
will take you
Twitter and Instagram @PactMovie2023, Facebook is Pact Movie 2022 (we started
pre-production last year, don't even get me started!). Most of the cast
are on Facebook with acting pages, but curiously I seem to be the only one with
Twitter (@realpaulsutton), so please give the pages a follow for updates!
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Only as always a huge thank you for reaching out and to my
wonderful cast and crew for taking an idea 7 years in my head and slowly
drawing it out!
for the interview!