During March the Horror Channel is celebrating the very best of British horror cinema with a season of movies called Heritage Of Horror. One of the films showing is Psychosis from Reg Traviss which is getting its UK television premiere. Here Reg chats about his career so far and what his future cinematic plans are.
HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to work in the film industry?
RT: Yes, I did. When I was little I used to get my friends to stage a scene then would photograph it. I still have dozens of photos from then, and continue to find them even now in old boxes. I was also really keen on writing stories and drawing pictures and used to try and work-out how films were made when I watched them. I believe it's all connected to filmmaking.
HC: How did you get your big break?
RT: In the late 1990s I was making short-films, then in 2000 I did some work as an Assistant to a Producer for Television Idents. Later that year, after she had seen a short-film I just finished, she asked me if I wanted to pitch to direct an Ident. My pitch got commissioned and I went onto direct a whole series of Idents for Television. I began writing a film script around that time and in 2003 I decided that if I was serious about making films then I needed to take the plunge into the movie business, so I teamed up with a TV drama Producer who wanted to do the same, and set about developing and raising the finance for what became my first feature, Joy Division.
HC: Where did the idea for Psychosis come from?
RT: The original film Dreamhouse was a segment in the horror anthology Screamtime which was a favourite film of mine when I was growing up. The original story is actually a short. Ever since I had started film-making I had always wanted to either re-make it or make an adaptation of it. When we came to buying the option rights to the story I decided it would be good to adapt and I had quite a lot of new ideas to include - as anyone who had seen the original will see.
HC: Did the script take long to put together?
RT: I think overall it took one year.
HC: How did you go about casting the film and how did Charisma Carpenter get involved?
RT: Just the usual way. We (that is me, the producer, and the executive producers) drew up a list of who we thought would be suitable for the roles. Then we brought a Casting Director on board... script went out to agents and then onto actors... Charisma was our main choice. She and I had a long conversation after she read the script. She had about seventy-odd questions for me - and in my opinion they were the right questions! I was totally convinced that Charisma perfectly understood the script and character, and she was keen to do the movie as she believed in it.
HC: Did you have much of a budget?
RT: The budget was very tight, but once we got started, we didn’t really notice it. Occasionally we would feel the pinch when for example we'd do two takes, and the producer (who was sometimes on set) would come up to me and say "ok ready to move on". Normally I was (as everyone worked well on set), but other times I'd think, I just want one more take or one extra shot.
HC: Was it a tough shoot?
RT: Like all shoots it had tough moments - not only because of the tight shooting schedule - but more by definition of making a film. There were several tough days, such as shooting the various woodland sequences, against the elements. But by and large it was a really pleasurable and happy shoot.
HC: Do any other directors influence your style and work?
RT: Not particularly, but of course there are many directors who I like, from film to film. With regards to Psychosis I was heavily influenced by the Hammer House Of Horror series of TV Movies, from the early 80s, and by the 1970s TV series Tales Of The Unexpected. I was also inspired by the slightly left-field British horrors and thrillers of the 1970s, such as Expose and Straw Dogs.
HC: The movie is getting its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel, how do you feel about that?
RT: I feel very proud. I have been watching horror films since as far back as I can remember. Friday and Saturday nights back in the early-mid 80s were always slotted with Hammer Horror films (when there were only four channels) and so now for me to have my first horror movie premiering on the Horror Channel (a channel which could have only been dreamed of back then) is a kind of personal triumph! In fact the whole family are excited about it.
HC: Your movie is part of the Heritage of Horror season. What is your favourite classic horror film?
RT: Too difficult to choose only one, so I’ll go for three to make it easier: Twins Of Evil (1971), Asylum (1972) and, the godfather of the horror anthology genre Dead Of Night (1945).
HC: You're a writer, director and producer, do you have a favourite role?
RT: I find that writing and directing are different phases of the same concept. I enjoy them both equally. I ave previously directed material that I have not written, and of course with Psychosis I wrote only the adaptation and worked from another writer’s source. I think if I had to choose between writing a project and directing one, then I'd choose directing.
HC: Reg Traviss, thank you very much