FilmBuzz interviewed director Grant McPhee for TF1 - Sarah's Room
A psychedelic ambient horror/thriller. Joe returns home from a mysterious absence to discover his wife has taken in an equally mysterious lodger in the feature film “Sarah’s Room”. in the Film Buzz had the opportunity to interview the director Grant McPhee to get an inside look behind the film.
What was the inspiration and how long did it take before you had the completed film?
The inspiration was to make a feature film in a short space of time, and rather than running around with a handycam make something that looked far more expensive and unusual than the majority of micro budget feature films out there. We shot on Red and edited on set as we went. The idea was to have a very strictly planned infrastructure and schedule that would allow us to improvise without getting too lost or wasting any time. When an actor was not in a scene we generally had someone film 2nd unit footage with them on a DSLR. We filmed for just over 5 days and had a 45 minute assembly cut when we WRAPed. I had to work abroad the next day and when I came back a week later we had a 90 minute rough cut. And probably 2 months later we had a locked cut. For various reasons, including other work the release of the film was a lot slower.
What where the biggest challenges you had making your film?
The biggest challange was the limited amount of time. We chose a single location where we could base all the scenes as unit moves would eat up too much time. The script had quite a large scope for improvising and flexibility, which we purposely had. We concentrated on what we had to get through to tell the story each day but as a vast chunk was improvised we had a lot of freedom. Time was just the killer factor so everything was based around ways to give us more time. Although the lighting looks interesting it’s very simple, everything was lit for 360 degree filming so once that was in place no time would be spend moving lights around. We wanted an always moving camera and as we had very little time for camera blocking we had the potential issue of focus buzzes. Luckily we had a friend who was a fantastic focus puller and had worked on projects such as Game of Thrones which majorly helped us. Which leads onto crew. We had a fantastic crew and actors and they were all chosen because, other than being very good at their job they were nice people we could get on with. It’s so important to have people you can work with in stressfull situations. As I was an inexperienced director I needed as much help as possible from the crew and I can’t make that point enough. Work with the best and most experienced and nice people as you can – it makes your life and the film so much better.
What are your plans for your film?
Try and have it screened as much as possible. It was definitely a great learning experience. The most surprising learning experience is marketing. Although it’s a film we are all prowd off it does not fit anto any genre easily. I wanted to make a unique and different film but audiences and especially distributers don’t always apprciate that. It does not fit easily into being a horror, an art-house film, a thriller or anything really. While that might sound good it’s very difficult to be able to give it an audience.
What new projects do you have on the horizon?
I’ve completed two new features. One, Big Gold Dream is far more conventional in it’s story telling. It’s literally just had it’s premiere at the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival where it was lucky enough to win the Audience Award. From that we’ve had some very exciting offers for further screenings and festivals around the world, as well as being picked up by a major television broadcaster. The other film, Blood Kaleidoscope (new working title) is currently being edited. It’s probably a little less straight forward and involves private investigstors who take psychedelic drugs to track down vampires. It’s a bit strange.
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