It all begins when Nick (Sam
Troughton), a kind and sensitive graphic design student, having just moved
in with four other students removes an old journal from a spirit clock – a
bridge between our world and the next. Jenny (Billie Piper), a
good-natured girl hiding from the psychic powers inherited from her
recently deceased mother, explains to her housemates an array of
paranormal effects which they discover in the old mansion: the spirit
clock, the spirit catcher and the planchette. When Tom (Luke Mably) a
smart and cocky drug dealer, Adele (Emma Catherwood), his feisty and
sexual girlfriend, and Nick decide to play with the planchette, which
works like a ouija board, strange and personal messages are relayed. Tina
(Alsou), a beautiful, exotic and mysterious girl, hovers on the sidelines
quietly apart from the rest of the group.
Mobile phones stop working.
Mysterious noises are heard. When Tom’s stash disappears and a frantic
house search ensues, Jenny begins to see things in the house - shadows of
torches on the walls and an angry mob in Edwardian clothes who appear to
torture a man. The spirits pit the students against each other as we
discover the dark secrets of their pasts.
Jenny return to where it all began and explore the secrets which the old
journal holds. There they discover the love affair between a young foreign
widow and her African servant. As Jenny has a vision of the affair’s
tragic end, Nick discovers that the last entry in the journal was exactly
one hundred years ago.
mysterious message which Jenny receives from her dead mother “someone must
die” suddenly makes sense “a killer for a killer”. The living nightmare
deepens as Jenny, Nick and Tina try to escape the house only to find the
exit leads straight back inside. The boundaries between the real world and
the afterlife are no longer clear and as time runs out, they must find a
way to escape the Spirit Trap.
DIRECTOR DAVID SMITH
were you driven to direct a teen British thriller? Have you always been a
fan of thrillers?
wanted to make a suspenseful ghost story, and for my first movie I felt I
needed to aim at a specific audience- I have very bright teenage kids who
appreciate story’s with some depth, I did not want to simply make a film
centred on killings.
it difficult to switch from commercial and TV documentary to feature
It was not
too difficult although it was a complete different discipline. I loved
making ‘Spirit Trap’, I did not want filming to finish. The studio floor
is my natural habitat, it is unbelievably stimulating collaborating with
so many talented people- actors and technicians.
did the idea of Spirit Trap come about?
producer was looking for a suitable project and when we read the ‘Spirit
Trap’ and met the writer Phil O’Shea, I was pretty sure we had something.
A story of eternal love; something which has always interested me, damaged
but strong characters with investing back stories and definite character
you work closely with the writer and did you both have Billie Piper in
mind for the role of Jenny when you were writing the script?
was introduced to me through Carrie Hilton, the casting agent, late in the
casting process. I was looking for a strong actor with a youthful
exuberance. Billie simply blew me away when she read for me. However
Phil had met Emma at an earlier casting, and when I told him I was going
to cast her as Adele, he admitted he had written it with her in mind.
did you decide to cast two music stars?
did not work like that; I found Alsou first, a severe beauty whose classic
look suited the parts of Tina and Irene. She makes a believable modern day student, somewhat awkward
and unstylish, somehow doesn’t get it right as
Tina, but as Irene she
looks a young woman of that period. I recognised Billie for her acting
ability and had seen her in Canterbury Tales which was very good.
us about your collaboration with the writer and the producer. Have you
worked with them before?
worked with the Producer before. She had produced a documentary for the
BBC I directed and I also directed the Second Unit on her previous movie.
Phil is a nice, talented guy and he was very receptive to my ideas,
however various people had input in the script.
was it like to work with young and up and coming actors and two music
great - they are a seriously talented group, however there is such a
wealth of talent in England. I was ‘spoilt for choice’; our drama schools
and universities are so good and produce talented young actors. The
success our actors achieve is well deserved.
it difficult to shoot the sexier violent scene with Emma and Sam? Was it
difficult for them?
discussed this at great length; I wanted to explore an abusive
relationship without Adele being seen as a victim- I wanted to make her
Tom is a
dangerous character, but great fun to be around. Adele knows she should
not be there but she mistakenly feels like she can control Tom and the
are the five most important things you would do before you die?
There is so
much, but perhaps five good important and commercially successful films.
you ever played with a ouija board when you were a student?
have, but I was always the guy pushing, too scared at what might be the
reality – I guess.
you believe in spirits and spirit traps?
are you working on at the moment and what is your next project?
I have been
asked to direct an adaptation of the Riders, a story by the Australian
novelist, Tim Winton. The screenplay is being written by Michael Hirst
and is to be produced by Susie Brooks Smith and Robert Fox. It is a
fantastic story about one mans journey across Europe trying to reunite his
family. It has an overwhelming atmosphere of mystery, anguish, loss and
their any romance on set?
I could not
possibly say but isn’t the screen chemistry between Tom and Adele
electrifying. But of course that’s just acting isn’t it.
there are differences between the English and the Romanian film cultures
it was actually a very well tempered shoot.
you looked back at the whole project, is there any one time, a snap shot
from your internal camera you can describe to us of how you remember the
favourite scene is the one where Tom and Nick go to the cellar in search
for something to break open the attic door lock. It is a turning point in
the film, where Nick responds verbally to Tom who has until that point
made Nick feel like a geek. Tom’s brooding menacing behaviour is
challenged by Nick who is in reality a much stronger character.
was Billie to work with?
wonderful to work with. There was a particular series of days that I had
arranged for Billie to be up early and into make up by 8.30am. On the
fifth day of getting her on stage before noon, I was feeling so guilty. I
went to find her chatting to a runner. I apologised and explained about
the scheduling problems surrounding issues with the staging. She simply
looked at me and smiled ‘that smile’ and said…’David, don’t worry, you
have your job to do and I love the way you are doing it, go do your job
and I will be here when you need me’. Please let her stay like that
did you persuade a young cast to shoot those quite sexual scenes?
As I said
before we wanted to explore the abusive nature of a love affair but
without Adele being perceived as a victim. I had been given seven days
rehearsal time, where we discussed each others characters endlessly and
their relationships with one another. Filming was just a matter of
getting it done, however there was some serious chemistry between Tom and
anything supernatural happen when you were filming / any weird incidents?
A film crew
works on a healthy diet of humour, in order to get through the gruelling
schedule. However, I hated the cellar location which was situated in a
derelict but grand country house, an hour from Budapest. The cellar had a
sinister feel and the unusual, I do not know what had gone on in that
cellar but it was weird.
was it filming in Romania - don’t they just eat meat there? Were you all
Romania was in many ways difficult, for example with the language barrier.
Attention given to detail was not as precise as it could have been and the
place is un- resourced. We only had one door handle so for each shoot,
the handle had to be changed. However apart from the food at the studio,
we all lived well in Budapest. It boasts some fine restaurants and bars.
was the standard of living there - Billie said there were a lot of stray
dog thing was odd. The owner of the studio loved dogs and tended to take
them into his care. It was amazing to see the old Hollywood producer
tearing his hair out as he realised the barking was not being tolerated on
set. The dogs definitely took priority- quite charmingly and very funny
was the hardest scene to shoot - emotionally? Did any of the scenes upset
the cast? Some of the scenes are quite dark.
the scene at the end of the film when Tom is impaled to the attic floor
with Adele standing over him was very emotional. It was the only time
that Emma got confused with her lines and Luke got so worked up in order
to get his part right.
there be a sequel?
certainly been successful as a franchise; however I leave it for the
public to decide…
Spirit Trap is released on DVD on November
the 21st, 2005.
With thanks to Revolver Entertainment.
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