It’s set in Devon (where I grew up, and which earns any film a few bonus points on the Pink Pie scale), it features Robert Daws (one of my favourite actors, ever since TV’s ’90s cricket comedy Outside Edge), and it adds the twist of taking place against the terrifying backdrop of impending nuclear war – so there really is nowhere to run.
Thankfully, Eugene was kind enough to answer some questions about how The Unfolding unfolded, why he chose Dartmoor, and about the real paranormal activity which took place during filming…
Where did you get the idea for The Unfolding? And why did you set it specifically on Dartmoor, rather than any other isolated area?
The idea came from a love of the genre, in particular Robert Wise’s The Haunting. I love Hound Tor and thought both it and the wild beauty of Dartmoor would make a wonderful backdrop to the story, as the
moor conjures a timelessness and mystery unique to England.
Where was that house? And was it really haunted?
The house was actually just outside Maidenhead – sadly it no longer exists. There was some paranormal activity on set – one crew member refused to be in a room on his own with some equipment as some
strange electrical discharges occurred in the air around him. The same thing happened to our caterer in a different part of the house. I myself heard footsteps above me in a room over my head, when alone in
the house filming some infrared shots – there was nobody else in the house but the footsteps were definitely not imagined.
That’s intriguing. You have said that you did a lot of research into these sort of phenomena beforehand. Who did you speak to, and did that research convince you there was some credibility in ghosts? Or did you already believe?
I did interview a medium and two investigators, who wish to remain nameless. I have no doubt that there are ‘..more things under heaven and earth..’ and we are a very long way from understanding the nature of our reality. I met a medium at a bus stop at the Cannes Film Festival two years ago, who proceeded to tell me I was surrounded by good spirits – which was nice to know!
I was very surprised to see this was your directorial debut. I think you have been an editor on other films, so can tell me about your background in film, and how you came to take the big step up to writer-director?
I am a painting and drawing graduate from Camberwell School of Art. I went on to work in TV commericals production with Tony Kaye Films Ltd (Tony directed American History X) and worked in art direction, and as assistant to the director, before going on to direct my own work. I won awards at The Cannes Lions, Creative Circle, and the British Television Advertising awards. I decided to write my own story to see where it would take me and was lucky enough to meet some wonderful
people on the journey.
Robert was wonderful, supportive, enthusiastic and a consummate professional. I was lucky to get him as we didn’t have a large budget but was introduced, and we struck up a friendship. The casting was a
variety of different approaches and some luck. Robert introduced me to wonderful Kitty McGeever. God rest her soul. We cast Lachlan Nieboer and Nick Julian through their agents at Independent Talent. They were just great to work with. The fabulously talented Lisa Kerr was introduced to me by a colleague.
I believe much of the film was improvised. How does the finished product compare with what you originally envisaged?
I think it came close, given more time and money there were many more elements we could have worked with, but I guess that is always the case whatever the budget.
Are you working on anything now [February 2018]? What can we expect from you next?
I am working on a Vietnam War story, based on a very disturbing true testimony – it will have thriller, war, and conspiracy elements. The option on the story is in place and it is very exciting. We should
be moving forward with it over the next few weeks.