MARTIN GOOCH, THE GATEHOUSE
An ancient curse is unlocked in The Gatehouse, on VOD 12/5 from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Jack is a struggling writer recovering from the death of his wife. His daughter, 10-year-old Eternity, loves digging for treasure in the forest behind her house. In a coincidental turn of fate, Jack agrees to undertake a writing project about the ‘legend of the black flowers’ at the same time that Eternity discovers a mysterious object in the woods, and the forest wants it back. They’ve unlocked an ancient curse and must now fight for survival.
The film hails from award-winning director Martin Gooch, whose credits include many comedy shorts as well as films and series such as Death (2012), The Search For Simon (2015), and TV’s Hollyoaks.
How long have you been supplying us with entertainment, sir?
I started as a runner in 1994 and have been working in the film industry ever since. I made a terrible animation when I was about 19 and then I started making short films at college in 1993, and then made a short called The Orgasm Raygun in 1999 which was bought by the BBC and put on TV. Ever since then I have been making films and entertainment.
And since then, who have you enjoyed working with the most? Anyone that has really impressed you?
In 1999 I was a Clapper Loader (2nd AC) on a film in Tunisia called The Three Kings (sadly not the one with George Clooney) and the actor Paul Freeman was in it. He played King Melchior and he was just incredible, a real force on set and just incredible acting power. I said to him ‘will you be in my movie when I make it?’ and he said yes.
Cut to ten years later when I was making my first feature film and I gave Paul a call and he said ‘yes’ again and was in my first feature film Death (known as After Death in the USA).
His on-set presence is phenomenal, and his performances just wonderful. So much fun to work with, but all the actors in my films have been amazing, and hugely committed to the projects. Linal Haft is a regular having done three of my films and is always brilliant to work with. Sarine Sofair I have wanted to work with for a while and it was so totally awesome I felt bad that we killed her off in the movie.
Onto the latest project. Where were you when you decided ‘This is what I’m doing next?’
I’ve just wrapped on my latest movie the sci-fi post-apocalyptic Black Flowers. I hadn’t directed a feature for two years (though I wrote a film shot in 2016) and the itch needed to be scratched. I had the idea for the new film in February 2017 whilst at the Santa Barbara Film Festival where I was a judge, and we went looking for locations in August. I was standing on top of a hill at this incredible look out point in Mount Shasta north California and thought: We need to make this.
And was it what you did next? Or did someone else end up happening beforehand?
I went to Beijing China in July to pitch some projects, which went well, but we have to wait to see if any of the projects evolve into production.
And is the film on screen the same one you set out to do?
Pretty much. The original script has another subplot, which in the cold light of the edit we realised didn’t really help the pace of the film, so the whole sub plot, including a wonderful scene acted by Alex Wilton Regan had to, sadly, go.
My original draft had a much, much darker ending, but I was outvoted by everyone and now we have this neat happy ending.
Did you have to make any compromises?
Film making is all about compromise, but trying to stay true to your vision. Some of the locations were a compromise but worked out in the end, and of course we didn’t have long to shoot, so the vision is slightly compromised on its scale but not that anyone in the audience would know.
Was a nice team onboard? Did you produce, too?
Yes we had a good crew; the DOP was Mark Hammond and we first started working together in 1998 at Shepparton Studios, so it is always great to work with Mark and having known each other for so long we have a sort of short hand where we know what the next shot should be without really having to explain which is brilliant and saves a huge amount of time.
I did produce as well, though Clare Pearce was our producer during pre-production and the actual shoot, then she went off to film The Rizen 1 & 2 and I took over producing whilst she was away on those movies for nine months.
Who has the biggest say on the filmset – lead producer, lead actor or the director?
It has to be the director. It’s different in Hollywood when the producer is controlling the finances, or if you have a megastar on board, but with this level budget you need one captain to pilot the ship through the mire of problems that will surface during the voyage to final cut.
How tough of a shoot was it? Any horror stories?
We filmed in early December in Somerset, England, and it was really cold and damp. The actual Gatehouse itself was never really meant to be lived in, so was always cold and damp, and you could feel the stone floors sucking out any living warmth through your feet. After several days in the Gatehouse some of the crew thought they would never be warm again.