Johannes Roberts is a favourite with the Horror Channel. A few years back we showed his cult classic Forest Of The Damned and he was behind When Evil Calls, the world's first horror movie designed to be viewed on mobile phones. Here he talks about his new movie, F (pictured), which got its World Premiere at FrightFest 2010.
HC: How did you get started in the film industry?
JR: When I left university I made a film with a fellow student. We used the equipment from the university and funded it with credit cards and used Uri Geller as the lead actor. The film sold around the world (it was released here as Sanitarium) and started me off...
HC: You were involved in the world's first ever horror series designed specifically for mobile phones. That must have been incredibly difficult project?
JR: Yeah it was a tough one just because no one had done it before so no one really knew what kind of shots or editing or style would work. We basically had to invent a new filmic language for it; using a lot of medium shots - nothing too close nothing too wide and lots of slow tracking movements because the refresh rate in those days was very bad so quick cuts wouldn't work.
HC: Where did the inspiration for F come from? Were you inspired by the "hoodie culture" the UK is experiencing at the moment?
JR: No not at all. F is a remake of Assualt On Precient 13 with a touch of The Breakfast Club thrown in for good measure! The way I directed the horror was very much as if I was directing a supernatural movie - it is very influenced by Asian horror in that respect.
HC: Did it take long to write?
JR: It took two years and 34 drafts. I am very proud of the script. The simplicity of it was so hard to get right. I love the ending especially. The whole movie is driving towards this horrible end.
HC: How difficult was it to get the production off the ground?
JR: Yeah wasn't easy! It really took the producer Paul Blacknell saying that he would invest his own finance before then other people started coming forward. He took a lot of big risks and they paid off.
HC: Was F a hard movie to cast?
JR: We had the casting director of Slumdog Millionaire (Gail Stevens) so we got great cast. The biggest decision we had of the movie was to turn down American finance to cast a named lead actor and just cast it the way we want to - I love the cast.
HC: The theme and mood of the movie is very dark, did this make it a very serious shoot?
JR: The shoot was a blast. Best shoot I have ever had. A lot of laughter!
HC: The effects look incredibly real, were they achieved by a combination of latex and CGI? Personally which form of effects do you prefer?
JR: I used not a single CGI shot in the movie. I love practical effects. Ironically I am just doing a television show for US TV that has a totally CGI monster.
HC: F is getting its World Premiere at FrightFest 2010, you nervous about that?
JR: 1300 people not liking your movie. What's to be nervous about... Yes very. But the FrightFest guys have been incredible and really supportive.
HC: You're a writer, director, producer, which job do you prefer?
JR: Directing. Although the moment you first think of a new idea is the most exciting thing ever
HC: So what project(s) do you have going on at the moment?
JR: Just doing some US TV with producer Adrian Sturges (Disappearance Of Alice Creed) and then we'll see what the year holds...
HC: Johannes Roberts, thank you very much.