Your upcoming movie Sinema - in a few words, what is it
Sinema is one man's experiment to see whether a normal well-adjusted
person can commit mass murder and then return to their normal life. It
centres around the anti-hero and film fanatic, Han Whitman.
Sinema is of course based on a novel of
yours, Sinema: The Northumberland Massacre - so what were your
sources of inspiration when writing that one, and did you intend to
eventually turn it into a movie from the get-go? And to what extent will
the movie follow the novel, and will there be any major differences?
often wondered about evil in humanity and what was true evil or whether it
even existed. Are some people just pre-destined to be evil or can it
be turned on or off like a switch? I thought what if a person with a
happy upbringing, a nice life, someone who is a really likeable,
essentially decent person… what if that person one day decides to commit
a murder just to see if he can do it and then return to his normal life to
then never do anything evil ever again? Then what if he decides that
one murder isn’t enough, that in fact to make his experiment as
challenging as possible he must slaughter an entire village. I
didn't originally intend for it to be turned into a film, but quite early
on after its release I started receiving emails from readers saying that
it would make a great film. We did have to trim the story down a
little to squeeze it into a 90 minute feature, but other than that it
stays true to the book.
did the film project get off the ground, actually?
wasn’t until several years after the release of the novel while working
on The Sceptic with
director Kev Harte [Kev
Harte interview - click here] that we got talking about the
novel and the film adaptation. Kev was hooked right away.
I’m a novelist rather than a screenwriter, so I managed to recruit the
help of a screenwriter friend of mine (Ricki Thomas) to adapt the novel.
When I saw how The Sceptic
turned out and how well it has been received I
knew Kev was the right director for the job. Kev also managed to
drag out of me what I think might be my best performance yet, so for
perhaps the first time in my acting career I actually thought I could pull
off the extremely challenging role of becoming a likeable mass murderer.
can you tell us about your co-screenwriter Ricki Thomas, and what was your
Ricki Thomas is a best-selling author
in her own right, known for her crime novels, including Unlikely
Killer. She was already a fan of Sinema and a talented screenwriter, so she
was the best choice for the job. The most difficult part of the
process was condensing the novel down to squeeze it into a 90 minute
feature. There was a great deal of toing and froing before we were
both completely happy with it.
You also play the lead in Sinema
- so what will you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much
of Rod Glenn can we find in Hannibal Whitman? And back when you wrote the
novel, did you already picture yourself as him?
the first draft of the novel I wrote Han Whitman as myself. I
haven't done it with any of my other novels, but for this one I felt I
needed to be at the centre of this journey. I knew it was going to
be dark and disturbing, so I felt I had to go through it to justify it to
myself. I read a great deal about real life serial killers to get an
insight into their motivations and desires, but ultimately I drew upon how
I might react in a given situation with this specific agenda.
I'm not a serial killer, honest!
you tell us about Sinema's director Kev Harte [Kev
Harte interview - click here], and what's your collaboration like
so far? And seeing that you have worked with him before, how did you first
meet even, and what can you tell us about previous collaborations?
Liam Grahame Olsen
originally met through a mutual friend. Kev needed an actor at short
notice and a friend recommended me. We hit it off right away - Kev
is very professional, but not averse to a good laugh while getting the job
done. It's important for me to enjoy myself during the creative
process, so that was just fine with me. He has a keen eye for detail and
can create the most stunning shots using clever tricks. He also
doesn't put up with any crap. The collaborate was
born during the making of The Sceptic
and was sealed when I saw how
stunning the final film turned out. The collaboration is working
very well - we both have enough respect for each other to trust the other
person's judgement and everything is open to discussion. We also
both know our own strengths, so we're happy to defer to the other's better
judgement at those times.
talk about your movie's key cast and crew for a bit!
still putting together the cast and crew, but so far we have cast Eileen
Daly (Razor Blade Smile and recent
Big Brother contestant), Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser I &
II and Nightbreed), Warren Speed
(Zombie Women of Satan) and Liam Grahame Olsen (an exceptional young local actor who both
Kev and I have worked with before). Other than Eileen and Nicholas
we are gathering the rest of the cast and crew together from the amazing
wealth of talent we have in the North East.
what I know, you're currently running a fundraiser for Sinema - so
what can you tell us about your campaign?
We have secured
several corporate sponsors like Greggs, Nerdoh Clothing and
Tunstall Photography, but on top of that we are running an IndieGoGo
campaign to raise the rest of the funds. We have some fantastic
perks on offer starting from just £10, including signed merchandise,
lunch with me and Kev and even a small part in the film.
budget's in place, what's the schedule? And any idea when and where the
film might be released onto the general public yet, however tentatively?
plan to begin principal photography around November/December and are
anticipating a Christmas 2016 release. We have already secured a
global distribution deal with Reliance Entertainment, who have been
responsible for bringing films like Need for Speed and Dredd to the
market, so we hope for at least a UK-wide cinematic release, as well as
media and digital releases.
future projects beyond Sinema you'd like to share?
and I have another collaboration in the pipeline which hopes to resurrect the
character of Dr Jan Lucane, who I played in The Sceptic. I am
also writing another novel that is a sort of mash up between The Wild
Geese and Lord of the Rings.
got you into acting and writing even, and what came first? And did you
receive any formal training on either?
I love books and
films equally - I devour them at a rate of knots! I loved writing
and acting right from primary school, making up short stories to share
with my teachers and acting in school plays. I started as a shepherd
in the school nativity play, next year I was promoted to the donkey and
then the following year I played Joseph. I started my first novel in
high school (The King of America) which was published some ten years later
and then went on to drama college to complete a theatre and performing
arts course. I also took English and creative writing courses to
improve my writing skills and then developed both crafts over time.
What can you tell
us about your writing and filmwork prior to Sinema?
published novels include three Sinema novels, a post-apocalyptic thriller
(The Killing Moon) and a sci-fi adventure (The King of America). I
also have a number of short stories in various anthologies, including
Holiday of the Dead, Wild Wolf's Twisted Tails, Radgepacket vol I and
Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 2. Acting roles include World War
Z, Fury, Macbeth, Bill, The Monuments Men,
Ripper Street, Vera, Inspector
George Gently, The Hollow Crown, Midwinter of the Spirit,
The Fairy Flag and tons of short films.
would you describe yourself as an author and as an actor?
I'm not one or the other - I'm both. My life wouldn't be complete
with only one. Sorry, that sounds greedy, but it does keep me busy
and out of trouble (mostly)!
writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?
inspiration from everywhere I look - an act of kindness, suffering,
travelling, comedy. Some of my greatest inspirations come from Edgar
Allan Poe, H P Lovecraft, Stephen King, James Herbert, Ridley Scott,
Quentin Tarantino, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Hicks,
Winston Churchill, J K Rowling, Ernest Hemingway, Nelson Mandela, Martin
Luther King, Bruce Lee, Oscar Wilde and many many more.
Hundreds, but some that would definitely
be up there are Alien, The
Thing, Lost in
Translation, Almost Famous, The
Way Way Back, Shaun of the
Dead, Jaws, Pulp Fiction, Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf, The Wild Geese, Life of Brian and
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
I don't like to put other people's work down, but
I dislike the overuse of CGI and the erosion of character-driven
stories in some modern films.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, IndieGoGo,
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think you covered
everything, but thank you for the opportunity to chat about Sinema, and I'm
very excited to start filming and seeing my novel come to life on screen.
Thanks for the