Interview: Simon Rumley on ‘The Living and the Dead’ – 39th Sitges Film Festival

The following is an interview from last year I did with Simon Rumley on his brilliant film, “The Living and the Dead.” This is part of my 39th Sitges Film Festival coverage that I will be reposting up here in the following days. Cinema is Dope is still my relatively new home (along with contributing over at Twitch) so I’m glad to find all my previous coverage a home.

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::: Simon Rumley @ the 39th Sitges Film Festival
::: 39th Sitges Film Festival – The Ultimate Experience

THE LIVING AND THE DEAD INTERVIEW

The Living and the Dead” is easily the film that hits me closest to home this year. In that respect, it’s the most personal film I’ve sat through. Dealing with the death or sudden loss of a loved one is never an easy experience. You go through those spells where you firmly believe your will and determination will prevent them from dying. Surely it cannot be their time to goÖ not yet. Life as we all know often times has other plans. When death arrives and takes them away, it feels like someone has pushed you into another reality. You want to believe youíre in a bad dream just needing to be woken up. When that doesnít happen and it sinks in that they have passed there comes a surge and thirst to know that you are definitely 100% still in reality. This surge of emotions, hurt and hope is one of the most intense passageways life takes us through. In “The Living and the Dead” director Simon Rumley takes us through this odyssey and somehow at the end as the credits roll and you walk out onto the street the sun suddenly feels bright and warm again. I recently had a chance to catch up with Mr. Rumley on “The Living and the Dead” (some spoilers) and his future projects.

BLAKE: How much of the script was changed from the initial drafts to the one that was shot? What were the major changes?

SIMON: I did 6 or 7 drafts in all. I would’ve been happy to shoot the first draft but everyone who read it said that although it was interesting it didn’t exist in any kind of logical context – which was true. At the time I wanted to make a film which was as close to a waking nightmare as possible so that characters could go from being the victim to the perpetrator and vice versa. I started writing the initial script about 6 months after my mother died – it took that long to regain any kind of vague concentration – and when I wrote it, I literally made it up as I went along so I had no real idea where it was going. If the final version is accused of being willfully obscure at times, the initial draft was much more so. Whereas the final version works as a tragedy, the first script would have been much more of a mind trip with less ability for an audience to identify with the individual characters, and with this in mind, the music would have been much more trippy and would probably have been the thing that really held the film together. I remember there was much more absurdism in the first few drafts and the dialogue was much more Beckettian. I also remember that the father figure was much more of a God-like creation and there was more insinuation (visual and dialogue lead) about spiritual journeys to beyond the grave.

I re-wrote the script on and off over a two year period, and during that time I tried to make the characters more human and identifiable and the situation the same, so that when everything does start going crazy the audience has something to hold onto.

BLAKE: You were able to do some pre-production time years before making the film. However, once it did come together and you were about to shoot how much pre-production time did you have?

SIMON: When we finally got the money in June 2005, we decided we’d shoot at the beginning of September. We didn’t really start prep in earnest until July since it took a couple of weeks for the money to start rolling in and, given that these were new investors to us, we didn’t want to start hiring crew and spending money until there was something in the bank. In England, almost everyone goes away for a couple of weeks holiday in August – I didn’t, but both the producer and the line-producer did because they had family holidays that they’d had booked for a while. Added to this, most agents and potential crew members were in and out of the country or London so in the end, everything was tougher than we thought. That said, the two months of prep that we’d done two summers ago helped us out immensely because we knew what location we wanted and I’d also met Leo Bill and offered him the role of James, so we immediately went back to him and he was still free, and we went back to the location and that was still free, so even before starting we had two of the main elements in place.

In terms of rehearsing, I like to talk to the actors about the characters they’re playing and then rehearse the dialogue over about three different occasions, depending of course on how much dialogue there is. With Leo and Roger, we were able to do this but not with Kate since she wasn’t around until a couple of days before the shoot, something I was a little nervous about, but Kate was great and very responsive and actually, when you’re on set, you can make time to rehearse when the camera team are setting up the next shot, so that’s what we did as well.

BLAKE: How much was shot in chronological order? With so many intense moments and building of characters into a complete nightmare it would seem like this film was a complete challenge for all three main actors yet none of them miss a beat emotionally. I can’t even imagine how they did some of the later scenes in the film where they throw their safey nets as actors/actress out the window to give a no holds barred emotional breakdown.

SIMON: You sometimes hear about films being shot chronologically but in reality, unless you have a big budget and can afford spending time going back and forth from one room to another (which most productions can’t) the sequence a film is shot in is more often than not determined by the easiest and most cost effective way of getting everything done as quickly and cheaply as possible.

The actors did an amazing job. Sometimes I’d have to gee them up or calm them down or contextualize what they were doing and why, but generally they were great at bringing the correct emotional energy to the scenes themselves. Kate especially had a tough time since her character is constantly in emotionally extreme and undesirable situations so I think it was incredibly draining for her but she never complained once. The stabbing scene for Leo was also a really tough one, especially, as I remember, we had to break for lunch before we finished the whole set-up so we all had to go outside, eat our chilli con carne, do a bit of sun-bathing and then go back to complete the stabbing scene. Tough on everyone really but given the kind of film we were making, the crew were great, the actors were great and everyone was, I think, able to leave their work on the set and relax of an evening.

BLAKE: How did you come to work with Richard Chester? His music in both Handyman and this film is exceptional.

SIMON: Yes, I agree…One of the producers on The Handyman, Piers Jackson, had seen Richard’s graduation film at the National Film & TV School and had liked it and so met Richard afterwards. Piers then mentioned that I should meet him so I did. I saw a piece which he did which was melancholic and sparse and mainly piano lead and felt the eerie atmosphere he created would work similarly for the Handyman. We met and I was happy to offer him the job for the Handyman for which he did an amazing job.

For The Living and The Dead, I knew Richard would be able to do the sadder, melancholic scenes but I hadn’t seen him do anything approximating what I wanted for the speedier/more disturbing scenes. I wanted to work with Richard again and give him the chance, so we met up in a pub in Soho and I told him my concerns that I wasn’t sure he’d be able to stretch himself to the extreme white noise limits of what I wanted for the film. He assured me he could and although I still wasn’t convinced, I said OK, let’s give it a go and see what happens.

As I thought, he came up with the quieter elements early on but, in my opinion, was struggling with the other stuff. Ben the editor and I gave him some Aphex Twin to listen to and a Squarepusher track and U-ziq track I think and basically said, here, copy this! I think the first scene Richard nailed was the first sped-up scene with James running down to the kitchen and then back up to his mother’s room and I think when I heard what is essentially in the film, and Richard heard my positive reaction to it, we were both pretty relieved. After that, it was just a case of me going, more extreme! more abrasive! And Richard would say, yes I think I know what you want and he’d go away and do it. I think I pushed Richard to the limits of what he’d previously done but he came through with flying colours and did an amazing job.

BLAKE: Having watched the Handyman behind-the-scenes footage, you and Milton Kam appear to have a great artistic chemistry working together. This combination visually seems to be a perfect synthesis of ideas. I was wondering if you could talk more on working with him on both this feature and the short.

SIMON: Yeah, we were looking for a DP to shoot the Handyman and through Greta Scacchi, ended up at the New York Merchant Ivory office asking them if they could recommend any cameramen. They’d just done a pop promo with Milton and showed it to me and the producer Arif Hussein and we both agreed that the style was exactly what we were looking for! I met up with Milton and we got on well at our initial meeting and in the end I think we must’ve met about 6 times before shooting the Handyman which was about twice more than I’d met any of the DPís who shot my previous features! Then on set we had a similar non-flappable demeanor and he just got on and did what he had to do without any ego or attitude. At the end of every day we had dinner together and a glass of red wine and would discuss the next day’s shoot. Nothing was too much trouble and he never said he couldn’t do something so he was a pleasure to work with and produced some amazing results.

We kept in touch after The Handyman and as soon as it looked like we were going to get the money I told producer Nick O’Hagan that we’d have to sort out a work permit for Milton since he’s American (originally from Suriname in South America).

The other great thing about Milton is that he’s very quick. On my previous feature we were doing 12 set-ups a day which was painfully slow and meant that I only really did about half of what I wanted to do as a director. On The Living and The Dead we were averaging about 22 set ups a day and on one day managed 26 which is pretty good going, especially keeping the quality of lighting that you ultimately see on screen. So in the end, we shot absolutely everything I wanted to shoot as a director which was fantastic for me.

I’d say we’re pretty good friends now and we keep in regular contact. When the time comes I hope he’ll shoot my next project.

BLAKE: How much were you inspired by Roy Boulting’s film Twisted Nerve for The Living and the Dead? Having just seen this film, I saw a lot of interesting comparisons between the performances of Hywel Bennett as Martin and Leo Bill as James.

SIMON: Interesting – have never heard of or seen this film but will try to check it out. Films that were on my list of films to watch in terms of considering the feature and how to create its look include, in no particular order: A Tale of Two Sisters, Tetsuo The Iron Man, Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Changeling, The Awful Dr Orloff, Oldboy, Lost Highway, Carrie, Harold & Maude, A Clockwork Orange and Persona. I was always planning on re-watching The Shining but never got around to it.

BLAKE: The hyper-kinetic sequences of James. From a technical perspective how in the hell did you pull these magnificent jolts of energy off? Your seemingly taking the camera backwards down an impossible course of hallways and staircases as if the cinematographer and actor both have jet packs on?

SIMON: Well these were initially meant to be done on steadicam but we had two operators, one who was great and the other who wasn’t. The great one did most the steadicam work on the film but wasn’t available to do all this stuff when we wanted so we tried the other guy who took about two hours to set up and then never managed more than about 30 meters without bumping into something or stopping. We did all those speeded up scenes in an afternoon, probably in about 3 hours actually. Having wasted a lot of time trying to get the steadicam guy to do what we wanted, Milton and I were getting more and more frustrated so in the end we came to the same conclusion that Milton should do it.

So that’s what happened – Milton completely saved the day on this one because they’re such an important part of the film’s identity both visually but also in terms of what the music brings as well. Carrying a heavy camera on his back, Militon walked everything backwards, down some very steep stairs, generally with about five people behind him and Leo in front of him. We shot it all at 8fps I think so this at least enabled Milton and Leo to walk slightly slower than they would usually. I think we did the first scene (James going down from his bedroom to the kitchen) about three or four times but after we cracked that one, we sped through the others and generally only did them once or twice. It’s pretty amazing what we managed to shoot in 18 days.

BLAKE: How difficult was it to connect the layers of the story together ultimately? You have these terrific bookend sequences that initially make the audience think they already have the film figured out until they get to the end and the rug is taken out from their feet in this respect. Having a story overlap in time is no easy feet and let alone having them arc in sync. Writing them must have been tough but editing it all must have proved even more challenging. In the cut I saw how much has been changed or left in place to keep the overlapping and book in elements easy to digest on some level with audiences?

SIMON: Well to be quite honest, this was one of the things that came out organically in the writing of the scrip and if you look at the script, it’s structured exactly like the final final with only a few exceptions and omissions. One of the strange things about the film is that it’s more or less told from three loose perspectives but not in a Rashomon kind of way – they each have their own valid perspectives though as an audience you’re never really sure who’s perspective you’re seeing something from and what’s real and what is not.

In terms of cross-cutting and editing, it wasn’t too tough because a lot of it was already designated in the script and when we did a rough cut it seemed to work pretty well. As with a lot of editing, it was fine-tuning the cuts and sometimes shifting them around so that the energy that was inherently there comes out as much as possible on the screen.

BLAKE: The way you captured objects within their space was one of the more impressive elements of this film to me. In the same way Antonioni captured objects in space in L’Eclisse this film for me perfectly captured objects in the space of losing a loved one. From the house which is completely abandoned (a feeling most of us feel in going through this phase) to the delirium of feeling “this can’t be happening to me.” So in this respect how much storyboarding was done to capture the story as beautifully as you have done? How much did you have pre-visualized? How much was shot or constructed on the moment?

SIMON: Thanks…As a director I’ve never story-boarded anything in my life – partly out of laziness, partly out of arrogance but mainly because I can’t draw to save my life. That said, everything was absolutely pre-visualized and I still have my shot-list on file. When you’re shooting a feature in such a short time, if the director isn’t highly organized and doesn’t know what he’s looking for, you’re f*d. Milton and I spent about three or four days going through my shot-list in my living room, discussing it, changing some of it, keeping some of it the same. When we went down on set, any spare moments we had we’d also spend discussing the different shots and set-ups.

Inevitably when you get on set, see the rooms you’re shooting in, play scenes out with the actors etc, things change and hopefully for the better. Sometimes you’ll change what you originally planned because of a way an actor is playing the scene, or because someone (Milton) will have a better idea because he’s physically behind the camera most the time. When I first went to the location, one of the first things that struck me about the house was how quiet it was and how still and how creepy. So at the beginning of the film I was keen to capture this stillness not only by means of quiet audio but also by using a very still, if not static camera.

BLAKE: The final moments of the film have several pauses of fade to black cuts. What was your inspiration for this and why?

SIMON: I know a few people have said that these confuse them because they thought the fade to blacks were signaling the end of the film but I guess as the film progresses, it gets more experimental in its own way, partly because it’s somehow trying to capture what James is going through – the most obvious example of this is the nightmare scene.

If I’m being honest, the inspiration for this actually came from watching a Marilyn Manson video Dopplehertz which I thought was amazing and it uses fade to blacks as a piece of visual hypnotism. It just seemed right for this part of the film although I know Nick and Carl, the producers, convinced me to take quite a few of the fade to blacks out – they originally started when the nurses wake James up in bed.

BLAKE: The needles in James arm. I sat and watched this scene and it really looked like James was putting in needles into his arms. Normally I see a cut and then a closeup to hide the fact the “needle” isn’t really going into someone’s arm. In this film I definitely squirmed and was in disbelief as the needles looked like they were definitely going into the arms of James without any film trickery involved. How in the world did you pull this off?

SIMON: Sorry, trade secret!

BLAKE: There are reports the Savernake House is haunted. Any unusual stories to report while making the film in this place?

SIMON: Yes, I read this on the IMDB and have no idea who put it up or where they got their info from. As far as I’m aware no-one saw any ghosts though there was a bat flying back and forth in the lower corridor which leads to the kitchen until Will Field, the production designer, accidentally squashed it when he was closing a door!

BLAKE: The graveyard scenes were particularly tough to watch, so I can’t even imagine the courage it took to film them. What process did you go through in capturing these moments and getting the actors involved?

SIMON: Well…At times it was a bit weird filming all this given that my mum had died a few years before and so had my dad and essentially funerals are pretty similar events with similar structures so more than any other time on set I did find myself going back to their deaths and more specifically their funerals.

That said, we had to shoot everything so quickly (a day) that there wasn’t too much time to linger around and consider the past. Also we had a bunch of extras who weren’t bad but weren’t amazing and we had a vicar hovering around who didn’t know we were going to stab someone to death in his churchyard!

These were some of the last scenes we shot I think so by this time I was pretty happy to let the actors get on with what they do best – acting. I think by this stage we’d also shot the stabbing scene and all of Kate’s really tough stuff and James’s breakdown so actually by the time we got to shoot at the church, the crew was very respectful of what the actors had been through, what they were going through and I think everyone was pretty happy to just shoot the scenes and get outta there.

BLAKE: From Rotterdam to Sitges… talk about the film festival journey this year with having not only a feature film to show but the short film The Handyman?

SIMON: We premiered at Rotterdam and really from there got invited to Buenos Aires and Stockholm, Transylvania, Durban, Santiago etc. About 16 cast/crew came out for the film and it was an amazing festival to start with – a great atmosphere, lots of parties, several film-makers, etc.

That said, the film has probably done better on the ‘fantasy/horror’ circuit than theí world cinema’/cutting edge indie and I have to thank Alan Jones who’s an English journalist and programmer of Frightfest for this. He came down on set and was one of the first people to see the finished film. He loved it and programmed it into his festival and then sent it off to the guys at Fantasia in Montreal and then when I was in Cannes, introduced me to Mike and Angel from Sitges and Mario from Fantasporto, both of whom subsequently have put the film in competition at their festivals.

It’s a bit weird going to festivals because you fly half way across the world and are wondering who could possibly be interested in seeing a film by someone they haven’t heard of starring actors they haven’t heard of but generally the film’s had great crowds and good Q&A sessions afterwards.

It’s an amazing way to travel the world, watch films and meet people although if you’re not careful, there is a tendency, whether you’re in Dubrovnik or Buenos Aires, to divide your time between your bedroom, a movie theatre and a handful of bars. It’s been a great year though for the moment, having been to about 15 festivals this year, I’m festival fatigued and am staying at home so that I can write another script to make another film to go to tons more festivals!

BLAKE: I heard a seemingly sharp eyed and astute filmgoer remark while leaving this film that there was an important clue in the very opening shot of the film that tied into something at the end. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this but was curious as to your thoughts on this. I heard another group speculating on this as well and in neither case was it in relation to the showing of Roger Lloyd-Pack’s character. I’m not sure if there was something more or people imposing an additional angle onto the film.

SIMON: That’s the great thing about putting your film in front of an audience – that they will read more into it than what you intended to show. As far as I’m aware, there’s nothing ‘hidden’ but I’d be interested to hear what they were talking about specifically.

BLAKE: Any updates on the distribution for this film?

SIMON: We’re just signing up with an LA based sales agent who will officially start selling the film in the Berlin market in February. We’ve had a few offers from various countries but wanted to wait until we did Fantastic Fest and Sitges. Having garnered some strong press and some awards, we feel the time is now right to start selling.

BLAKE: You have completed The Living and the Dead and shown it around the world. How has this film now changed you and taken you from the place where you first were when you started writing it?

SIMON: Good question…Well…I guess before it, I was slightly stuck, in film-terms, as to where I was headed, having made three critically successful features but none of which was any easier to make than the one before it. Actually, the third one, Club Le Monde, is just being re-released on DVD in January in the UK so that’s exciting. Now, with the amazingly positive reaction that this film has had, especially from the genre/fantasy world, it’s made me conclude that I should continue to engage in darker material.

At times I have pondered on the fact that if my mother hadn’t have died, I wouldn’t have written the script, made the film and had such an amazing year so that’s always stuck in the back of my mind. Obviously I would have preferred my mother not to have died but ultimately my feeling is that from such a negative situation I made something vaguely positive out of it and that’s something to be proud of and it’s something I think my parents would be proud of, even if they wouldn’t have necessarily liked the film!

BLAKE: How much of your blooming film success were either of your parents able to see before their passing?

SIMON: They came to the premieres of my first two features and seemed reasonably impressed by them. They also saw the press which was overwhelmingly positive for both films and my dad was especially excited when a page article was published about me in Penthouse! My dad came to the set for Club Le Monde because there was an actress he especially liked from tv. Sadly, he died before he saw Club Le Monde as did my mum, the funeral for whom, was on the day of the films’ charity premiere – I didn’t go to the premiere.

I studied law at university and my parents were always keen for me to practice as a lawyer but at least they could see I wasn’t completely wasting my time as a film-maker so as the years went on they generally gave me more slack.

BLAKE: Poppy Z. Brite’s ‘Exquisite Corpse.’ Where do you plan to film this and what should audiences expect? I for one hope to see a continuation of the hyperkineticity of The Living involved. Although I realize not every story will have elements that lend themselves to that.

SIMON: The book is set in New Orleans and that’s where I’m setting the screenplay – it makes a lot of sense since the French Quarter is a unique place instilled with a Gothic intensity and has a claustrophobic other-worldly feel all of its own (I went there a long time ago but haven’t been since Katrina but from what I gather, the French Quarter has been the least affected), a timelessness that I like in films, not completely dissimilar to that in The Living and The Dead.

I guess the press release that you published sums everything up pretty well but now that I’ve finally started to adapt the script (almost up to 30 pages!) I guess I’m concentrating on making Tran, the object of affection for the two serial killers, a real person with a real family life. With this in mind, I’ve added quite a few extra scenes which weren’t in the book about the family Vietnamese restaurant and in the book, there’s mention of young twin brothers but I’ve made them into a sister with whom Tran has a great and affectionate relationship. This, I hope, will all serve to make the danger that he ultimately finds himself in much more palpable and believable – because although the situation is slightly surreal, we know that Tran is a real kid, with a real life with real ambitions etc. Again, I did a similar thing in The Living and The Dead in setting up the situation as believable and then letting rip with what ultimately happens.

The other thing that I’m keen to try to do is to keep the violence matter of fact and un-sensational. It’s an inherent part of the novel and the film but will be treated as an every day occurrence because for the two serial killers that’s exactly what it is.

I was keen to option the book because more than anything, I saw the potential of the drama that existed between the three lead characters – two of whom were killers and both of whom had fallen in love with the same boy. Although in the book, this tension isn’t really developed, every time Tran meets up with either Andrew or Jay, the audience knows he might be killed – and that knowledge is something that I hope will keep the audience on tendersticks through out.

BLAKE: What can you tell us about the film “Dues”? What is it and about and currently stands?

SIMON: Dues is about a middle-aged sax player who comes to a cross-roads in his life and has to decide between life on the road and family. It’s an investigation into the flipside of the American Dream – when does a man give up his ambition and hope and admit defeat? It’s a quintessential subject which I hope to shoot in a stylish more European way.

At the moment it looks like we’ve just found a private investor who will hopefully be able to kick-start other investments but nothing’s been signed yet so it’s still early days. Dues was written by Thomas Beach who wrote The Handyman.

BLAKE: What is the film “Church of the Second Son” about? I saw a brief description but wanted to know more and where this project stands.

SIMON: This is about bullying, mind-games and Satanism in a boarding school in New England. More than anything it’s a character study about a young boy who finds himself hanging out with the wrong people.

At the moment, I’m looking for a producer…

BLAKE: Any genres you want to work in that people might not expect or any dream projects?

SIMON: The few people that have seen all my features and The Handyman will know that I’m pretty versatile. I’m keen to carry on doing darker films for the moment although Dues is nothing like The Living and The Dead or Exquisite Corpse.

There are a couple of books I’d like to adapt which require bigger budgets than I could probably raise at the moment and I have a hundred ideas on the back-burner and to be quite honest, they’re all dream projects!

BLAKE: Having attended so many film festivals of 2006, what are some of your favorite films that you have seen?

SIMON: Hmm, another good question. I’ve seen so many, especially at FantasticFest, Fantasia and Sitges that it’s hard to remember but I have to say all the films by the directors I met were all pretty impressive. These include: Larry Kent’s The Hamster Cage, Jeff Mahler’s Inside, Doug Buck’s Brian De Palma re-make of Sisters, Karim Hussein’s La Belle Bete, JT Petty’s S&Man, Andrew Currie’s Fido and Aronofsky’s The Fountain. Another film that I thought was excellent was Scott Glasserman’s Leslie Vernon: Behind The Mask.

Sion Sono’s Strange Circus, Takasha Miike’s Big Bang Love, Juvenile A, William Friedkin’s Bug, Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation, Jeff Werner’s Mario’s Story…That’s a few off the top of my head.

BLAKE: Being one of the few filmmakers I know that could just as easily talk about US filmmakers as you could South Korean or other countries, what filmmakers and films have inspired you personally as a filmmaker?

SIMON: Well…Pretty big question but as for film-makers, early-mid Scorsese is always an obvious one, and Krystof Kieslowski I always thought was amazing. Richard Linklater’s first three films inspired my youth culture trilogy and I still love his films (I met went up to him quite recently after a talk at the London Film Festival actually and gave him my first three films as a ‘thank you’ for inspiring me. He looked a little surprised as most people were giving him things to sign, not to keep, and then I ran off without saying too much more!), I always liked Rob Reiner’s earlier films – Spinal Tap, Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally & Stand By Me tho’ I don’t think they ever influenced my film-making. I always loved Robert Rodriguez’ energy. And I’ve always wanted to be Abel Ferrara over Stanley Kubrick, just cause of the amount of films he makes. Wes Craven’s someone I’ve always loved as well and I’ve been a big fan of his ‘chase’ scenes, especially in The People Under The Stairs and to a lesser extent Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream – I’ve always been impressed by how he uses knifes as murder weapons and that definitely informed The Living And The Dead. Julio Medem is an amazing director, one of the most exciting in the world and someone who I think, although successful, is under-rated. His use of structure is constantly refreshing and original. Early Nicholas Roeg, for structure but also pushing boundaries of what was acceptable and making challenging ‘adult’ dramas. Darren Aronofsky for everything really. Shinya Tsukamoto also for structure, energy, ideas and pure viscera – Tetsuo was an influence on The Living and The Dead for sure and Snake of June is another great venture. At the moment I’m pretty excited by Kim Ki Duk although I’m starting to worry (!) that he’s being too prolific and that his scripts aren’t being as developed as they should be; I think The Isle is his strongest work to date and that’s been a big influence on my writing recently, esp on Church and Exquisite Corpse, trying to make a film with as little dialogue whatsoever – actions more often than not speak louder than words. Park Chan Wook’s direction is also incredibly inspiring; just the density and the amount of images that he manages to get into a film.

BLAKE: Last but not least a question I always ask. A big thing of mine is discovering forgotten films or films that somehow never got that big of an audience. I was curious if you had a film that you absolutely love that for whatever reason didn’t find an audience or time forgot that you think people should rush out and seek out immediately?

SIMON: Well…My films Strong Language, The Truth Game and Club Le Monde (which is getting a dvd re-release in the UK this Jan)! Errr… The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz which was a small British film which was very off the wall and wacky and didn’t get the recognition it deserved…Passion Flower Hotel which is a very kitsch, very soft porn but sweet film with a very young Natassja Kinski which I used to watch when I was a teenager – The House of Clocks by Lucio Fulci which was a 1989 TV and slightly flawed but could work really well as a remake – Vicente Aranda’s Amantes which I haven’t seen since it first came out in the early 90s but I remember it being a great love triangle between a young guy, and his two lovers an older and younger woman ñ really captured the excitement but ultimately destructive nature of such relationships.

Related Links:
::: Official Simon Rumley Site
::: The Living and the Dead on IMDb
::: Sitges Film Festival

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