19th Dec2017

Horror-On-Sea 2018 Interview: Andy Collier & Toor Mian talk ‘Charismata’

by Philip Rogers

Charismata is new thriller from directors Andy Collier and Toor Mian, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Friday 26th January. I got chance to ask a few questions about their inspirations for making the film, there unwritten understanding when working together and the problems of trying to film in a nightclub.

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What can we expect from the film?

Toor: Gratuitous sex and violence.

Andy: A disturbing study of institutional misogyny and corporate greed.  And demons.

What was the inspiration for writing the original script for Charismata?

Toor: Andy and I are both big fans of Alan Parker’s Angel Heart (1987). Our eureka moment came when we realized it was under seen and underappreciated enough for us to plunder shamelessly while still maintaining the illusion of originality.

Andy: As Toor says, the plot idea was inspired by Angel Heart, but the story of the main character was equally shamelessly) plundered from (Roman) Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy.  We have this angst-ridden, fragile, unstable character at the centre of the film, with everybody around her trying to make her life a misery.

There are some dark and surreal visual elements to the film. What were your inspirations for the look and style of the film?

Toor: The best way to have your film stand out visually is to avoid ripping off whatever current trend is permeating genre cinema at the moment- and instead just rip off what everybody was doing 30 years ago. As such Polanski and the apartment trilogy was a significant inspiration in terms of our visual style. We very much aspired to a classical look and feel whereby any camera movement was purposefully limited and always motivated-hopefully helping to create a sense of repression, claustrophobia and isolation to tie in with our lead characters emotional state.

Andy: Pretty much what Toor said, plus we wanted a throwback Michael Mann look to the lighting and colours. Basically, it’s very retro in lots of ways.

Are there any elements in the finished film which were different to how you envisioned them in the original script?

Toor: Everything to a degree. The moment action is called for the very first time you realise that the film you have been carrying around in your head for years will never exist and can never exist. Regardless of how meticulously you try and plan something; the script, the storyboards, the attempts at directing performance are all just guidelines once the camera starts rolling and you appreciate everybody getting fed on time has to take priority over a discussion on the Stanstilavki system or the exact speed of a tracking shot. Film making really is a complete collaborative endeavour and every single person involved really does leave their mark on the end product. The goal then is to try and maintain the essence of the blue prints, so the building doesn’t entirely collapse- but to also embrace the organic elements of the process and hope you end up with a Tower of Pisa. It may have slanted off from the original design somewhat but if you’re lucky it’s even more interesting because of it.

Andy: Agree with that.

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You obviously work well together having collaborated previously both writing and directing. What is the process for you working together and what do you think the other person brings to the film?

Toor: I think the reason Andy and I work well together is because of our similar physical statures and combat abilities. There is an unwritten understanding that should our frequent disagreements ever spill over into actual violence, it will likely end in mutual and equal destruction. I find that this fosters a very productive atmosphere of fear based compromise.

Andy: Chocolate biscuits

What was one of your favourite scenes in the film?

Toor: I think my favourite scene in the film is the club sequence because we were not sure it was going to work until after we filmed and cut it.
The sequence involves the main character stalking somebody through a busy nightclub. It’s a fairly intricate ‘hallucination’ scene whereby one minute the club is full of punters and the next it is empty save for the main character and the person she is following. As our budget was so limited there was no way we could afford to film this the ‘proper’ way- in a controlled environment with professional extras. We talked about either cutting the scene from the script or changing the location to something much more low key but in the end decided to throw caution to the wind and shoot gorilla style in a fully functioning club on an open night. That the lead actress and the camera operator managed to hit their very specific marks- while being groped and manhandled by hundreds of drunken revellers- is testament to their dedication.

Andy: My personal favourite is where the cops are arguing so violently about a character’s guilt that they fail to notice him committing suicide behind them through a two-way mirror. It’s shot very well with different layers of action, and (to my rather gallows sense of humour at least) it’s very funny.


Do you have any new projects which you are working on?

Toor: All being well and next year are off to the States to shoot Perpetual. It’s a Gay, Muslim, Zombie, Rites of Passage, Murder Mystery, Police Procedural, Supernatural, Horror, Western. Admittedly this is probably a saturated genre, but we like to think we’ll be bringing something new to the mix.

If someone is looking to direct their first film, what advice would you give them?

Toor: Invest in comfortable footwear.

Andy: Make a film for yourself. I.e. one which appeals to you. Don’t try to make a film cynically to make somebody else happy by pleasing some assumed demographic. If you love what you are doing that will show in the final product. Also, why put yourself through so much pain to make a movie you don’t even like much!

Charismata will be playing at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Friday 26th January at 9pm.
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For more information on the event and to purchase tickets for the Horror-on-Sea please see the website for details: https://www.horror-on-sea.com

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