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An Interview with Benji Wragg, Director of Answer Your Phone

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2021

Films directed by Benji Wragg on (re)Search my Trash

 

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

 

Itís about a young man walking home while being stalked by an evil presence ... or a standard night in Sydney. 

 

What were your sources of inspiration when writing Answer Your Phone, and as weird as it might sound, is any of it based on personal experience?

 

It was based on my friend's experience of abuse. They felt trapped in an abusive relationship and I wanted to inflict the viewer with the same feeling so they would have more empathy to people in abusive relationships.

 

A few words about Answer Your Phone's approach to horror?

 

Try to make the audience shit their pants? Well I wanted to see if could make a scary horror film that was very basic. I wanted to make the audience feel unease and isolated without showing the demonic entity until the very end.

 

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

 

My directorial approach is to imagine Iím directing an episode of Sesame Street and Oscar the Crouch is being a primadonna. Being real, I like to talk to the actor about what the character is thinking and feeling in the moment, how the set, narrative and costume affect their mindset. That sort of thing.

 

Do talk about Answer Your Phone's cast why exactly these people?

 

Well I vowed to Rhiannon Newman I was going to make her a horror movie monster one day. Oliver Midson is a great actor and has has these wonderful facial expression. From day one I only wanted him for the lead.

 

You also have to talk about your main location, the parking garage, for a bit, and what was it like filming there?

 

It was kinda cold. We had a few run ins with drunks. It was a wonderful place to film really, the good thing about this parking lot is it's underground. So there wasnít much outside noise and we felt cut off from the world.

 

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

 

Well, we hadnít been able to shoot for quite some time, so the atmosphere was very joyful, We were finally back on set. As usual when it was time to film the scene I was an extra in, I kept laughing and ruining the take. 

 

The $64-question of course, where can Answer Your Phone be seen?

 

Umm itís doing a festival run now. Itís also available for free viewing on YouTube. Just search Crazy Moo Productions or Answer Your Phone.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Answer Your Phone?

 

So far all the reviews have been positive, which is extremely humbling. That being said they better be positive, I spent a lot of money bribing those reviewers.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Iím planning on shooting a comedy in which a young woman enters a drinking contest againt a member of the undead.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you recieve any formal training on the subject?

 

I had some free time one day. Umm I donít know, Iíve always done theatre and always wanted to make films. So one day at uni I just decide to make a film with a friend. I donít have any training but Iím friends with people who do, So I ask their advice.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Answer Your Phone?

 

I created The Ballad of Captain Vengence. It follows Luna, a girl obsessed with superheroes. She tries to develop superpowers but canít. She learns that one way to become a superhero is to have your parents killed and vow to avenge them. So she murders her parents.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

It would probably be better to ask the crew to describe me as a director. I think Iím an actor's director I guess?*

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Neil Breen. Umm Iíve always loved John Carpenter, Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio - click here], David Lynch and Makoto Shinkai.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Mad Max 2 (you wanna get outta here talk to me), RoboCop (ďDead or alive youíre coming with me!Ē - ďNo! We killed you!Ē), Sinister (that opening is amazing - if you sat down to watch it without knowing anything about it, you sure as shit know what itís about after that opening), Falling Down, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Thing, Legally Blonde (Thatís not a joke either, itís a perfect film), Your Name.

 

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

 

I didnít like Rise of the Skywalker, and The Mummy Returns was dog shit. Iíve sat through all the Harry Potter films sadly.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

https://www.instagram.com/benniewragg/

https://www.facebook.com/people/Bennie-Wragg/564914164/

 

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

 

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I ordered a kebab on UberEATS last night and it took 2 and half hours to arrive. I just wanted to complain. It was cold.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

 

 

*Oliver Midson on Benji Wragg: 

Based on my experience working with you, youíre very driven to help your talent find the emotional core of the scene. You explain the scene easily and in your own way help the talent along on their own internal journey to reach the heart of their character.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
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out now on DVD