Cruel Britannia - Exclusive Interview With Lawrence Gough, Director Of Salvage
By James Whittington, Sunday 10th April 2011

Lawrence GoughDuring April the Horror Channel celebrates the best of contemporary British horror with a special season of UK TV premieres under the banner Cruel Britannia which showcases some of the finest home-grown directorial talent around. You'll find sadistic killers, destroyed families, violent paranoia and self-destruction. Each movie is accompanied by a filmed introduction with the directors and keep tuning in as the season is being promoted on-air with some specially shot sequences presented by femme fatale Emily Booth.

The season continues on April 22nd with Lawrence Gough's urban shocker Salvage. Here he chats about how Salvage came about and his honest opinion on the state of the British horror film industry.

HC: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a director?

LG: Yes, from the age of 9! But how was I going to do it, seems to be the ongoing issue!

HC: Salvage was your debut movie, how did the project come together?

LG: A number of factors contributed to Salvage: It was based on a short film that I had made some years earlier. The premise of this idea was good enough to expand into a feature length. The one big change was that the short was set in the middle of the countryside and so we thought we would subvert this and place it in suburbia. The other big concept of the film was the Branscombe Disaster that happened off the coast of Devon. Containers were washing up on the Devonshire coast and people were running down and opening them up to see if there was any loot. I thought this is a great way to get an antagonistic element into suburbia. It fitted perfectly with my intentions of embracing this contemporary fear of terrorism.

HC: Did the script change much during production?

LG: No, none of it changed. Elements of the script were written with the close in mind so this meant that we could be very specific with almost all of the sequences.

HC: Although you had directed shorts before this, how did it feel to be behind your first feature film?

LG: To be honest, my expectations of the leap were quickly dashed on the first day of principle photography….it's exactly the same! Just bigger, more people to deal and more paranoia!

HC: Its claustrophobic atmosphere reminded me of a cross between of Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead and The Crazies, are you a fan of his work?

LG: Yes but he was only a very small influence and his work is not the only films to embrace such a claustrophobic nature.

HC: Salvage is a raw and real looking movie but was it a difficult shoot?

LG: Not really, everything was intentional. Being in 'real' houses, gardens etc and the decision to shoot the entire film handheld gave me the 360 environment I wanted. It gave the actors great freedom within the frame. A very tight budget meant that we shot it in 19 days so that was the biggest challenge…time is NEVER on your side even with millions of pounds!

HC: Is it true the movie was shot on sets left over from Brookside?

LG: Yes, the Brookside close gave us everything I needed to create a realism. With our budget issues, there was no way we could have ever built these sets and shooting in people’s real houses just creates even more constraints…even though I hate saying it...Brookside saved me!

HC: The film runs just over 80 minutes but packs in plenty of action and plot; are there any sequences that were left on the cutting room floor?

LG: No every setup shot was used in the finished cut!

HC: If you had a bigger budget would you have changed anything?

LG: I think there was a time that I would have answered no to that but the honest answer is yes…probably elements of everything. There are many, many elements of Salvage that I am not happy with!

HC: Are you a fan of the urban horror movie genre?

LG: I am a fan of all good horror…horror that has something to say….I am not into just watching inventive ways of watching people being chopped up!

HC: What's your take on the current British horror film scene?

LG: I am not really seeing one currently. Yes lots are being made but I think it's missing the point of what horror is. There are and there has always been enough contemporary fears that horror films could and should embrace and I don't really see this happening. I don't mean that horror should be ramming political or social issues down the audience’s throat but these shared fears are a great starting point to take an audience on a visceral but thought provoking ride.

HC: What's your top 3 horror films of all time?

LG: The Exorcist, Alien and Funny Games.

HC: In your opinion what is the all time best British horror film?

LG: Peeping Tom, especially in this day and age!

HC: What's your next project? Do you intend to carry on making “horror” films?

LG: Yes, I am currently working on 4 features. My latest is The Drought an ecological horror. It's about a drought in the UK and the milk of human kindness has evaporated!

HC: Lawrence Gough, thank you very much.

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