Your new movie Ghost
Nets - in a few words, what is it about?
Nets is a thriller set against the brutal landscape of the British
coastline. Two brothers take a trip to the beach to try and reforge
broken bonds following the death of their father. When they start to
unearth long kept secrets the sea shows that it's not just skeletons in
the closet that are left behind when the tide goes out.
were your inspirations for writing Ghost
Nets? And the underlying theme of sibling rivalry (or any other
underlying theme for that matter) - is that at all based on personal
I really wanted to write a character piece,
something about people and how they interact. I also wanted to
isolate the characters to try and see what would happen when the usual
escape routes are closed off. So in terms of themes, something that
is universal is family. Whether it's love, hate or indifference
we're all vulnerable where our family relationships are concerned. Familial
relationships have always fascinated me and form a theme in lots of my
work, a sense of belonging that can be something valued or something
abused. I just tried to explore that further and under heightened
Nets remains extremely vague about its central McGuffin, the
contents of the briefcase - why is that then, and was this vagueness
intentional from the get-go or did you at one point plan to go more
In a sense I always thought that the actual
contents of the briefcase didn't matter, it was more what they represented
to the character of Jack. They are the catalyst to feed Jack's
darkest emotions and set him on a trail to self destruction. It's
the scene when he discovers the contents that we see him turn, all that
blackness within comes to the surface and the clown act dies. I also
couldn't help but make my own small homage to Pulp Fiction, a masterpiece!
You just have to talk about your great
location for a bit, and what were the challenges of filming there? And did
you write the story with that specific location in mind already?
I had the film written for a few years before I discovered the location
in the film, funnily enough the location had been on my doorstep the
whole time but I had never been there before! My DOP took me there
and instantly I was amazed, this was it. Joss Bay is spectacular,
it's like the surface of the moon when the tide goes out and I wanted
the sense of isolation that you only normally get in space movies.
We hardly saw a soul for the four days we shot over, I think the
cast and crew all welcomed a warm bed and bath once filming was
If it looks cold on film, it's not a patch on how truly cold it was,
especially shooting over night. The crew were wrapped in layers
upon layers whilst the cast huddled around their little fire clinging to
the heat for dear life.
Sound was always an issue due to the exposed nature of the beach, strong
winds and waves meant that we had to ADR a lot which was a challenge on
a low budget.
Finally, our other biggest enemy was the tide. The scene in the
cave is a prime example. Very complex to film and key to the film,
the explosive pace of the action here is so opposed to the slowness of
the development so we had to get it right. The trouble is that the
cave was quite remote and we started to see the sea get closer and
closer to cutting us off. I needed just one more take (which we
got in the bag) before we had to run for it... we all got wet feet
getting to safety but well worth it.
would you describe your overall directorial approach to your story at
I like to let actors act, it sounds really simple but
I believe that characters should be able to breathe like real life people,
I set the rules and world of each scene and I tried to get as naturalistic
a performance as I could from the actors because my true aim was to distil
a sense of truth and beauty in vulnerability, I was lucky to have
four fantastic actors that really got this and trusted me to shape the
scenes but trusted them enough to explore new ground. To this extend
there was a fair amount of improv in the small talk, the actors were
forced to spend plenty of time together in close quarters so hopefully the
bonds you see on screen come through from real life.
What can you tell us about your cast, and why
exactly these people?
Firstly, Charlotte Mounter is a
brilliant actress. I've known her for a long time ... she also
happens to be my wife! Charlotte has worked with both Bruce Lawrence and Joe
Sowerbutts before, so we knew exactly who we wanted before we even put a casting out.
Bruce is a great leading man; tall, masculine and a handsome devil.
Joe is a fantastic actor, his range, subtelty and commitment out so
good. Lloyd Morris gave us such a ferocious audition he was cast without seeing
anyone else after we saw him. We were very lucky that the calibre of acting we had available to us was so high.
Do talk about the shoot as such,
and the on-set atmosphere?
The atmosphere on set was great, there was such a great camaraderie
between all. We had a reasonably big sized crew for a short filmed
on only £5,000 and it was so rewarding as a writer and a director to
see all these talented people making these things you dream of into
Maria, our producer, was tireless. From managing our budget and
all the paperwork she drove here, there and everywhere picking up severed
hands, stunt rocks, you name it! Lina our AD was great, she marshalled
the troops, even for 4am call times to get that beautiful first morning
light you can see burst across the beach. Jordan (DOP) and Duncan
(camera) captured something amazing on that beach. Astoundingly
beautiful photography. But also our make up and production design
spent so much time taming the elements to make it all happen.
Of course, a film doesn't stop on set, Richard our composer created a
unique soundtrack for the film and Roberto our editor and colourist gave
the film it's final sheen.
The $64-question of course,
where can your movie be seen?
submitted to about 40 festivals, we're awaiting news on 99% of those but
it is so far in Official Selection at the Fan Boy Film Festival and the
Chain NYC Film Festival in New York.
Anything you can tell us
about audience and critical reception of Ghost
We had our premiere at Canterbury's
Westgate Towers, it was the first film premiere in the building's very, very
long history. We had coverage in the local press as well as many
favourable reviews by online blogs and film reviewers.
Any future projects you'd like to
I'm working on a feature length sci-fi/horror...
be sure to let you know when I can share more!
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
a film director is all I've ever wanted to be and every career choice I've
made since being a boy has been following that dream. I studied film
at university but it was more theoretical training as opposed to practical
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Ghost
I have directed three films before Ghost
Nets as well as several music videos. My day job is a producer
and director for commercials/branded content so I am able to keep my
hand in most days!
My previous films are Man (2005), The Day My Heart (and Body)
Broke... (2007), Looking For My Brother (2010).
How would you describe yourself as a
I'm a very reflective director, I usually know
what I want from a shot very early in the planning... usually when I write
the script I have it in my mind's eye pretty vividly and I try and convey
that to all the creatives in my team. The actors and DOP particularly,
they have to have a solid map and vision but enough latitude to bring it
to life and add extra dimensions to the project.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Kar-Wai is my favourite director of all time, Tarantino up until Kill Bill
and Danny Boyle. Trainspotting was the film that I wish I'd made, it
certainly put the final focus on my desire to be a filmmaker. I
hugely admire Darren Aronofsky although I hated Noah!
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Trainspotting, In The Mood For Love, Chunking
Express, Pulp Fiction, The
Shining, Terminator 2, Requiem For A Dream.
I think TV counts on this section nowadays - True Detective,
The Wire, Game of Thrones.
There's too many now.
... and of course, films you really
Not many, Bad Santa I didn't like at all.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
please like the page if you can!
Thanks for the interview!