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Interview With Tom Jolliffe the Writer & Producer of the Film The Dark Recess

The Dark Recess won Best Production Design Award in the 3rd Season of MP Film Award Tom Jolliffe Writer & Producer of the Film The Dark Recess agree to interview with us.

Poster The Dark Recess

Tom Jolliffe: I’m a UK screenwriter with a number of released features around the world, including the upcoming action thriller, Renegades (starring Danny Trejo, Nick Moran, Lee Majors, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Patsy Kensit and Louis Mandylor)

About the Film: Synopsis: The Dark Recess Film Synopsis:

Fighting insomnia, creative emptiness and haunted by her past, Charlie longs for a cure to her ailments. Maybe Jacob X, a radio psychologist Charlie picks up by chance on an old analogue signal, may hold those answers.

Trailer of "The Dark Recess"

What was your drive behind making this film?

Tom Jolliffe: It was born out of a desire to make a film with complete control, and no money. A creative challenge with some very talented collaborators. There’s a certain freedom about picking up a camera and shooting.

How did you feel when you were awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award?

Tom Jolliffe: We had a very good festival run, even if the film is hard to categorise. The closest we could pin it was horror, but it’s more mysterious/psychological, as such we had less joy with horror fests who would probably have expected more jumps/scares/gore but did well in more general fests (we expected the reverse). Getting our MP film award, as with all, was hugely gratifying.

Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?

Tom Jolliffe: Probably working with Katie McKenna. I knew everyone else already and wanted to collaborate. I knew what Leila Bartell would bring and Charlotte Chiew. We took a chance on Katie, a young up and comer, quite local to us (myself and my brother who directed, shot and edited the film). She had to convey a lot without saying much and she did so brilliantly. The lead role wasn’t written with a specific gender initially so we cast completely openly, then moulded accordingly to our chosen lead. Katie just imbued Charlie so well. She had the best audition and the most enthusiasm and ended up being a dream to work with. It’s a challenge to have to hold a screen on your own, and there are a few scenes where it’s all on her. She’s fantastic in the film. I then recommended her to the studio I’d written a feature for, and they cast her in the lead for Tooth Fairy 2 shortly after. She’ll certainly go on to better things.

How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?

Tom Jolliffe: Once the script was down we stayed very close to it. This tends to be the way on low budget films because last minute changes mean a potential for delays, overrunning or rescheduling. It was a two man crew and I was the main producer and writer, so I was never going to insist on script changes!

Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?

Tom Jolliffe: Problems at this budget level usually lie in sound. In retrospect we’d do things differently, but the idea of a two man crew gave us so much freedom to shoot efficiently, at any time we could get our cast together. That comes with compromises. You can’t do top of the range sound on a zero budget for example.

Do you have any advice for young filmmakers out there? Or like yourself?

Tom Jolliffe: Do it for the right reasons. Do it for a passion of the craft. Don’t think it’s a get rich quick scheme. Enjoy it, love it and if you’re earning money, that’s a bonus. Even if you think you’ve hit a dead end, keep going because once you hit momentum, it probably won’t let up.

Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Tom Jolliffe: There are certainly uses and sometimes you need the paper work to say you’re legit (particularly in technical departments) but nothing peats the practicality of actually making films. Like with most careers, there’s always that catch 22. People want experience before they hire you, but how can you get experience if you can’t get the job to begin with?

Which film has inspired you the most?

Tom Jolliffe: Too many to mention but for The Dark Recess particularly, it all spawned from rewatching Videodrome. Before long the influences then skewed into Tarkovsky (particularly Stalker), American Psycho, Persona, The Shining and more (psychological films where protagonist lose a grip on reality/identity). As director, my brother brought his own set of influences too.

Which particular filmmaker has influenced you the most?

Tom Jolliffe: Kubrick, Tarkovsky, Scorsese, Bergman, Lumet, Coppola, Kurosawa, Mann, Cronenberg, Carpenter, Cameron and a load more.

Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?

Tom Jolliffe: I’ve been fortunate to have written an adaptation of War of The Worlds. I love that era of Sci-fi. I’d love to do a version of The Time Machine. I’d love to adapt some Philip K Dick too or some old school Gothic horror (Dracula perhaps). We felt like The Dark Recess had a certain Edgar Allen Poe quality to it (it opens with a quote). It wasn’t a direct adaptation but certainly had that kind of old mystery and Gothic element about it.

If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?

Tom Jolliffe: For The Dark Recess, the sound. I’d probably be more ambitious with some of our locations too. We went for tried and tested in woodlands we grew up in and have filmed in many times.

If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?

Tom Jolliffe: As above. Sound and the last location to something a bit more interesting.

What is your greatest achievement till date?

Tom Jolliffe: Being able to pick my films up in a store. It’s been a dream since my days as a kid browsing in video shops. My most recent production, starred a number of icons I grew up watching, like Danny Trejo, Tiny ‘Zeus’ Lister, Michael Pare, Lee Majors, Nick Moran, Billy Murray, Paul Barber, Ian Ogilvy, Patsy Kensit and Louis Mandylor. I’m a genuine fan so seeing them in one of my films is amazing. There will be more big names in future projects that are incredibly exciting for me.

How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?

Tom Jolliffe: As I’m a writer, when I hand off a script I have to be mindful that I have no control from that point. I can’t account for film-making choices, constraints, budgets etc. If I’m happy with the script I wrote, that’s enough for me. I’m pragmatic though. Good reviews are a blessing, negative reviews are unavoidable, but I appreciate the constructive ones. I’ve only done one film I’ve been really disappointed with, a Sci-Fi feature. In the end the visions between myself, producers and distributors didn’t quite meld, and the budget just wasn’t conducive to the ideas. I had to compromise my last draft because I’d hit the wall. The producers have to compromise because of budgets, and the elements the distributors feel are necessary can occasionally by counterproductive to the film you originally wanted to make. It’s just how it is, though I’ve worked with the same producers a few times since and love working with them. With the best will in the world, sometimes a certain film doesn’t work and it’s happened to almost every director going from 200 million budgets to zero.

Where our viewers can catch you (share your social media)?

Tom Jolliffe: On Instagram: @jolliffeproductions.



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