LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Interview With Ivan Kavanagh Director Of The Canal
By James W, Friday 22nd August 2014
Influenced by Don’t Look Now and Suspiria, Ivan Kavanagh’s The Canal is a disturbing, psychological thriller that contains some incredible moments of horrific bleakness. Starring Rupert Evans the film charts a descent into madness that becomes more and more extreme as the film goes on.
We chatted to director Ivan Kavanagh ahead of its English premiere at FrightFest about this movie and what else he has planned.
HC: Where did the idea for The Canal come from?
IK: I've always loved horror films and some of my most vivid memories are of watching and being terrified by horror films as a child. Also, horror films allow you to push cinema to it's very limits, both in terms of sound and picture, almost to breaking point if you want to. You can literally do anything in terms of experimentation, especially in sound and editing, which can be very liberating for a filmmaker. So this has always attracted me to the genre. The initial idea for the film is quite difficult to talk about it, as that would give away the end of the film, which I can't do, but I will say I did always want to make a film about a cinema archivist, which I always thought would be a great subject for a film and one I hadn't seen before. They basically investigate the past for a living, and this is what our main character is doing throughout, as he tries to find out how and if the past relates to his present. Also, there's that haunting idea that everyone you see in films from early cinema is dead, so, like he says in the film, "it's like watching ghosts". This seemed to me a great starting point for a ghost story.
HC: Did it take a long time to write?
IK: It took about two years from conception to filming, which is very quick I believe.
HC: You assembled an amazing cast, Rupert Evans in particular gives an outstanding performance, how did he prepare for the role?
IK: I usually spend a lot of time casting and it took a very long time to find the right actor for the main role of David. I don't audition in the usual sense, I just like to watch their previous work and then have an informal chat to the actor. I get a sense of who they are and see if there's anything in their personalities that might suit, add to, or enrich the role. When I first talked to Rupert I knew at once he was the right actor for the part. David needed to be handsome, but also needed to have a sense of vulnerability about him too and Rupert possessed that quality. I don't know about Rupert's personal method of preparation, but he was incredibly prepared each day and willing to explore the role (which goes to some very dark places) as thoroughly as I wanted to. Another method I use, which I think may have helped Rupert, is I have the actors interviewed quite intensively in character before we begin filming. So he and all the actors, as if they are real people, will answer a series of very personal questions about their lives and they have to think on their feet and answer as their character would. This not only gives me a chance to see if they truly understand and know their characters, but also gives them a chance to know their characters inside-out before we begin.
HC: The film has some incredibly bleak moments, what was the atmosphere like on set?
IK: For me the best and only atmosphere for creativity is a relaxed one, where everyone feels safe and free to experiment and to do the best work they can possible do. If there was a gloomy or unhappy atmosphere on set I don't think that would happen. So it was actually a quite fun set most of the time and any tension that was on set was more about the very tight schedule than anything else. In terms of the little boy Billy (played by five year old Calum Heath) he never knew he was in a horror film. It was just a game to him. So all the horror elements were kept away from him. He had a great time and loved every minute of it. He's an amazing little actor, highly intelligent and always totally in the moment (which a great quality for actors of any age). I'm looking forward to the day, 10 years or more from now, when he can finally watch the film!
HC: How would you describe the film as it touches upon a number of genres?
IK: I think, if I had to categorize it, it's a psychological horror film, but one that is deliberately paced and I hope emotionally driven and has quite a disturbing and serious theme at it's heart, when we finally find out the truth about what happened. It's actually quite hard to talk about without giving anything away! I definitely wanted to create a terrifying highly visceral cinema experience, where sound and picture were of equal importance, that would hopefully linger in the memories of those who had seen it and would be watched more than once. I wanted to create the feeling of a nightmare, and that it would become more and more nightmarish as it went along. This is why some of the imagery should feel raw and uncensored, just like in nightmares where you have no control over the images that appear in your mind and after you wake up you wonder how you could ever have imagined such a disturbing thing. I also wanted to make a film that was almost 100% from one character's point of view, so that all the events of the film (and perhaps even people in the film) would be colored by his view of events. The problem is that he may be losing his mind and therefore what you're seeing may not be all that reliable. Or else, he's telling the truth and the explanation is supernatural. Or both. I've heard many different interpretations of the film and for me, they are all equally valid. Also the fact that our main protagonist is a Film Archivist meant it would allow me to play and experiment with the horror genre a little bit. Here's a character, who, through his job, must have seen every horror film ever, and so knows all the plots, and so it seemed correct (and fun) to me that he effectively steps into his own horror film, complete with the most popular starting point of all horror films, that of the old house with the terrible past. It's quite a knowing or self-aware horror film in that respect, I think. I thought this aspect would also add to the ambiguity that I definitely wanted the film to have. Is the haunting real or is it a figment of his cinema soaked mind? There's also the old film aspect of his job, which I thought was a little like found footage (which is basically what he does for a living, is find footage!), which I thought would be interesting and give me a chance to recreate these old films using a camera from 1915.
HC: The Canal has some incredibly realistic effects sequences, were these mainly practical effects?
IK: Yes, I wanted all the effects to be practical. I'm not huge fan of CGI (or at least the overuse of it) and wanted there to be an old-school feel to every expect of the film. The practical make-up effects were done by the Dublin based company Bowsie Workshop, who did an incredible job I think. The direction I gave them was that the effects should seem visceral and real (almost like a documentary) and I didn't want to cut away and create the effects in editing. I wanted to do everything in one shot if possible, so that the camera's gaze seems unflinching, which not only adds to the nightmarish feeling, but also treats the violence as something serious, horrific and terrible, which of course is the correct way to treat it, especially at the end when you find out the tragic awfulness of what happened.
HC: You’re a man of many talents being not only a director but a producer, composer and writer. Do you have a favorite role?
IK: I'm not really a producer, that would be an insult to real producers! I made all of my early films with literally no money, so I'm just a guy who cobbled together a camera, some sound and editing equipment and began making films with friends. I just stuck my name on the credits as producer because every other film had a producer on the credits so I thought it would look funny without! So that would be my extent of my producing. But I did write, direct, edit all my previous films and wrote some of the music and did the sound design too. In fact, The Canal is the first time I have ever worked with another editor and sound designer and I was very fortunate to find amazing collaborators in my editor Robin Hill and sound designer Aza Hand who were willing to push things as far as I wanted to go and really experiment. We had great fun. The same would go for the DOP Piers McGrail. I hope to work with them all again on my upcoming films. But, to answer your question, I love all aspects of filmmaking, but if I had to choose a couple of things it would be working with actors and sound design, which I usually spend months working on.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
IK: There's a lot of things in the air at the moment, including some possible TV, a western, another psychological horror film and a few scripts I'm reading by other writers too. I'm just waiting to see which one lands first!
HC: Ivan Kavanagh, thank you very much.
MORE INTERVIEWS Interview with Hattie Smith, star of The Axiom
Posted on Sunday 24th June 2018
The Axiom is a tense and disturbing chiller from director Nicholas Woods. The film concerns a woman who travels into a National forest, in search for her missing sister. Once in the wilderness, they discover they have entered a multi-dimensional world full of monsters. The film is an adrenaline infused experience with some cool effects and a smart story. We chatted to lead actress Hattie Smith about The Axiom.
HC: How did you become involved with The Axiom?
HS: I went to school with Nicholas, the director. We both graduated from Chapman University, and I was a year or so behind him in the film school. At some point, I was recommended to him as an actress for the 48 Hr Film Festiv...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Jessica McLeod, star of The Hollow Child
Posted on Friday 8th June 2018
If you like your horror movies to have a strong paranormal theme to them you'll need to look out for The Hollow Child when it gets released later this year. It stars the incredibly talented Jessica McLeod so we decided to have a chat about this and her career to date.
HC: Was there a certain person you saw who inspired you to become an actor?
JM: I don't think I had seen a movie by the time I had wanted to be an actor. But Reese Witherspoon continues to inspire me, although my career has been entirely different from hers at my age.
HC: Can you recall what it was like to be on a movie set for the first time?
JM: I believe I got to wear a prin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Steeve Leonard co-director of Radius
Posted on Monday 21st May 2018
In the chilling movie, Radius, a man wakes from a car crash with amnesia and what's more anyone who comes into contact with him instantly dies. This FrightFest favourite is receiving its UK TV premiere on Friday 25th of May so we chatted to its co-director and co-writer Steeve Leonard about this celebrated and cerebral movie.
HC: How long did Radius take to write?
SL: Radius took about 4 years to write, on and off. We had the radius of death idea first but we didn't know what to do with it, and so we shelved it for a while. Later we came up with the more interpersonal twist we have now and we weaved it together with the radius idea.
HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?
SL: No....SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive: Director Johannes Roberts talks 'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2018
This weekend sees the release of a long-awaited sequel to one of 2008's most beloved slasher films. Yes, nine whole years after The Strangers premiered, UK cinema-goers will be met once again by Dollface, the Man in Mask and Pin-Up Girl in The Strangers: Prey at Night.
Starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, and Lewis Pullman, son of the late Bill, the film sees a family of four being stalked and tormented shortly after arriving on what was supposed to be a quiet family trip to a remote mobile home. The family must decide whether to take on the dreaded strangers hell-bent on wreaking havoc, or to run for their lives.
We had a chat with the film's direct...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Andy Nyman, co-writer, co-director and star of Ghost Stories
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018
I've met Andy Nyman on many occasions over the last decade or so, and over that time I've watched his career constantly go from strength to strength. To call him multi-talented would be an understatement and along with Jeremy Dyson has created the must-see horror movie of 2018, Ghost Stories. Here he chats about the stage play, Ghost Stories as well as how it changed on its way to the big screen.
HC: When did you first meet co-writer and co-director Jeremy Dyson?
AN: Jeremy and I met at a Jewish Summer Camp in 1981, and you just get thrown together in dorms of four people and Jeremy is from Leeds and all my family are from Leeds so I used to spend most of my weekends up in Leeds so we instantly ha...SHARE: READ MORE John Krasinski talks directing and starring in 'A Quiet Place'
Posted on Friday 6th April 2018
In case you hadn't heard, A Quiet Place has opened in cinemas nationwide.
The film, starring real-life couple, John Krasinski (US adaptation of The Office and 13 Hours) and Emily Blunt (Sicario, Wind Chill and The Devil Wears Prada) takes place in a post-apocalyptic(-ish) environment, in which strange wild creatures that hunt by sound have destroyed a significant amount of the population.
Krasinski and Blunt's characters, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn try to lead a life with their family as quietly (and by that we mean literally) as possible, in able to ensure their survival.
We sat down with the director and one half of Krasinski-Blunt to talk about the film, what scares him the most, and which...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with David Howard Thornton, star of Terrifier
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018
If you're a fan of slasher movies then you'll have to check out the bood-splattered shocker Terrifier. The movie is a full-blown, hair-raising homage to grindhouse slashers that introduces a new murderous icon in the form of Art the Clown. Art id surely destined to become a true horror anti-hero and here David Howard Thornton, the guy who plays art, chats about this brilliantly brutal movie and what he's up to at the moment.
HC: What movie or person inspired you to want to work in the film industry?
DT: I would say that would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit film wise. I was obsessed with that film when it first came out, and still watch it at least once a year when I need some inspiration. It meshe...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018
Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.
HC: How did 88 Films start?
RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018
One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.
HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?
PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018
There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.
HC: Have you always been a horror fan?
AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018
Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.
HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?
KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more ...SHARE: READ MORE Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018
There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.
HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?
PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...SHARE: READ MORE Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 PICK OF THE WEEK
Monday 23rd July
Friday 27th July
Sunday 22nd July