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Exclusive Interview With Director Johnny Kevorkian
By James Whittington, Friday 19th June 2009
The Disappeared is the brand new chiller from gifted director Johnny Kevorkian. Packed with believable performances coupled with a paranormal script it’s one of the best British horror in years being intelligent, scary and very raw. Anyway, the movie is being shown at the ICA, London on varying days through June and July as part of their New British Cinema season (check link at the end of this piece for more information on dates) so we thought we’d chat with Johnny to see how this stunning movie came together.   ZH: How did you get into the film making business?   JK: Well first of all thank you for your kind words on the film, its great to see people a liking it.   My background comes from going to film school where I graduated in film at The University of Westminister in Harrow. Then after film school I went around knocking on doors around Soho looking for some directing work, God how naive I was then! I had made a successful short film for my graduation at film school which I thought was excellent, but it didn’t really out too well in the film world. So I then came to the realization very quickly that I needed to make another short film– something that could stand out and people would take notice of. So I did, I raised money from various people and got lots of help in the industry and I made my first proper short film. I then went on and made some more shorts. People did see that that I could make films but then I came to another realization that no one was going to offer me a gig at directing a feature film, so I had to go out and make my own.   ZH: Had you always wanted to be a director?   JK: I did, fortunately or maybe unfortunately? I don’t think I had a choice, I wasn’t very good at anything else!   ZH: Where did the idea for The Disappeared come from?
  JK: I wanted to direct something which could be made very inexpensively if we didn’t secure any proper funding and horror was always the main choice as you can make them cheap but still good. Overall it had to be something really good. I found scripts by other writers which I did develop but by the time it came to making these the option periods would lapse and the scripts were no longer mine. So we (my writing and Producing colleage Neil Murphy) decided to write our own script. So we came up with The Disappeared, which was then titled The Calling.   ZH: How did you and co-writer Neil Murphy approach the project?   JK: It really had to be something different from the current crop of horror’s coming from the UK then. There were a lot of creature films, gore and very much following in what the American’s were doing for so long. There weren’t any atmospheric horror stuff coming from the UK, the Spanish had The Others, which I loved but not from here. It really had to be something which was a traditional haunted house type of film, the haunted house being the council estate. Then we really wanted to create strong real and believable characters, characters who existed in everyday life. This attracted a great quality cast.   ZH: Did it take you long to cast the movie?   JK: It took about 8 weeks in total. Harry was cast pretty quickly, although it took a lot of persuasion for him to board the project. I think he was a bit reluctant at the start as it was a horror film. When I told him how I saw myself making the movie, which was a very much character led to begin with and the horror was creeping through in a subtle way, he liked that and came on board.   ZH: Harry Treadaway who plays Matt gives an amazing performance, he seems to be a star on the rise, would you agree?   JK: I think Harry is definitely a star on the rise, its going to happen any day now, he’s still young, but I was very fortunate to get in my first film early in his career. We will be working again in the future no doubt about that.   ZH: The acting in The Disappeared seems very natural, was some of the dialogue improvised by the young cast?   JK: Some was improvised, some changed during rehearsal and the shoot. I think you can have a script which is a great blueprint but until you have your cast infront of you reading the lines you will see that if the dialogue works on not and if not you change it.   ZH: It’s an incredibly eerie film with a raw sense of dread running through it, what was the atmosphere like on set?   JK: It was tense, we were on some pretty harsh locations, dirty derelict hospitals, claustrophobic caves which we were in for about 14 hours, council estates etc. Plus the theme of the film didn’t help, but we got through it and survived.   ZH: The film uses subtle sound effects to heighten the tension, did it take you long to mix the soundtrack?   JK: I’m very much involved hands on with the sound design. I worked closely with Mathew Gough and really wanted the sound to be another character in the film, always having a sense that there is a constant underlying threat going on. It took around 8 weeks overall to create sound effects to the final Dolby mix. I just love the entire sound aspects of filmmaking.   ZH: Though the film has a paranormal plot some of the situations the youngsters talk about such as work, hoodie violence etc is very real. Did you take measures to make sure the dialogue for example was authentic?   JK: Yes it was very important to get it right, I’ve just seen so many film that are let down by the characters who really don’t at all sound authentic and that really bugs me. It had to sound real. Funny enough at a recent Q&A session at a festival somebody in the audience was from a South London council estate and he was praising how real the characters sounded.   ZH: Was it a long shoot?
  JK: It was just under 5 weeks, we went over by two days, all location and not a single studio set built. I wouldn’t make another film which was entirely location work again to be honest, its too exhausting and demanding. It has to have some studio work.   ZH: What projects do you have in development at the moment?   JK: The next project is called Sleep Thief. Its a psychological thriller like The Machinist It’s about a man who begins to deteriorate physically and mentally due to his lack of sleep, its a very horror film that’s very Gothic in its style. He starts to experience hauntings on all different levels - very creepy stuff in there. I'm very excited to be making that as my next film - I guess I'm taking the more selective career path like Brad Anderson, I haven’t sold out as yet! We're casting the lead at the moment.   ZH: Johnny Kevorkian thank you very much   JK: Thank you also for the opportunity for the interview.   Click here for show times
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