I had the honor of interviewing director Brian Barnes, look forward to his upcoming movie the redeeming-
Me: So my first question is, for those that aren’t familiar with you, tell us about your latest film
BB: ‘The Redeeming’ is a psychological thriller feature film in the style of classics, such as ‘Misery’, ‘Psycho’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Memento’ and ‘Shutter Island’. It’s the story of Joyce, a disturbed single mother, who’s hiding out in an isolated cottage, when there’s a knock at the door and a mysterious stranger John is asking for help. Joyce lets him in, but the longer the man remains at the cottage, the more Joyce becomes confused by his possible connection to her. Horrific memories flood back into her mind, and this man’s insistence that she remember her past could push Joyce over the edge. 28 years in the making, cast and crew battled “the stormiest period of weather the UK has experienced for at least 20 years” in a remote location in deepest Somerset, Southwest England to shoot this exciting debut feature film directed by “the man who gave Christopher Nolan (‘Interstellar’, ‘Batman’ trilogy, ‘Inception’) his first job”.
Me: There’s a character named Dr. Hadley?, what role does he play in this film?
BB: Unfortunately, any discussion of Dr Hadley would be a complete spoiler. He plays a small, but crucial role in the film.
Me: So you went from directing shorts and segments, the horror of H.P. Lovecraft for example, what was it like going from directing short form to feature length?
BB: Yes, I’ve done 23 short films, such as the multiple award-winning ‘The Urge’, but always felt frustrated by the form. Some people really relish shorts, but I’ve always wanted a larger canvas to explore a character and I’ve finally achieved it with ‘The Redeeming’. It was very exciting and liberating to move up to feature length material and I really want to continue with feature films. I’m already working on setting up my next feature film and the one after that. However, I’m still doing short form work – I’m just about to shoot a comedy sketch show web series called ‘Fetch-a-Sketch’.
Me: What can you tell us about your next film?
BB: I’m juggling 3 new feature projects at the moment and it’s anyone’s guess which will be the next one to get made. That’s the way the business goes, you have to have multiple irons in the fire and see which one gets the most interest. I’ve got a psychological drama with horror elements called ‘Refracted’, a low key thriller set in the world of London’s homeless called ‘Reformed’ and an as-yet-untitled heist thriller inspired by my experiences working on a game show on satellite TV.
Me: You directed a game show?
BB: I directed several interactive game shows on Sky in the UK and SABC2 in South Africa between 2004 and 2007. One of them was the cult favourite ‘Bikini Beach’
Me: So you also directed a couple 24 hour films with Tom Wontner and Gillian MacGregor, tell us about those?, plans for more or a feature with them?
BB: Yes, I worked with Tom and Gillian for a number of years. I made a 48 hour film in 2003 called ‘Immortals’, which Tom saw in a film festival. He liked it so much that he tracked me down and suggested we work together. He introduced me to Gillian, with whom he had just made a feature film. We made ‘Witch’s Spring’ together as a 24 hour film, which we actually made in 23.5 hours! It played in dozens of festivals across Europe and the USA and it ended up being sold to 2 distributors in the US. We then did ‘Hard Case’ as another 48 hour film, and then I did ‘The Pickup’ with Gillian as another 48 hour film. Gillian and I also worked together on a web series called ‘Gillian’s Persona’ and ‘The Urge’. We were planning a feature film together, and we had a great first draft script, but the project fell through. I also planned a feature film with Tom, but that also didn’t come together. Tom has given up acting now, and I haven’t had a part suitable for Gillian for a while. However, I’m hoping to work with Gillian again some day.
Me: And persona is where you met the writer of the redeeming?, any chance you’ll try again with yours and Gillian’s script?
BB: Yes, Roger Thomas did write Persona (2012) and The Redeeming (2015), but we have been working together since 2007 or 2008 – we’ve written Reformed and Refracted together. Roger and I also did ‘Magenta Edge’ (2011) together, which also had Gillian in it. I might come back to the script we wrote for Gillian, but that was with a different writer whom I knew before meeting Roger. I have a much more productive relationship with Roger, so I am much more likely to get one of his scripts going.
Me: Well we definitely look forward to seeing what the future brings!, so you were awarded the member of the order of the British empire in 2005, tell us about that
BB: ‘m afraid you can’t believe everything you read on the internet! There is a Brian Barnes who was awarded the MBE in 2005, but it’s not me. Unfortunately, he and I both attended the Royal College of Art (not at the same time), so we’re easy to confuse. I have tried a couple of times to get IMDb to remove that bit of trivia, but no luck so far.
Me: Well that’s unfortunate, so is the redeeming going to be at film festivals?, then distributed?, or what’s the plan?
BB: Yes, The Redeeming is coming to the end of post-production and we’re starting to look at its festival run. After that, it will have an on-demand cinema release in the UK and an online release.
Me: Well we definitely look forward to that!, so one last question, from reading my blog, you can tell I’m a Christian, what are your spiritual views and how do they affect your filmmaking?
BB: Sorry, I’m not a Christian myself. My first degree is in Astrophysics, which means I know enough about the Universe to know that it is unknowable, so the best description of my spiritual beliefs would be agnostic existentialist pragmatic humanism – not that I ever give it much thought. If ‘The Redeeming’ or any others of my films have any spiritual message, it’s that we are the source of all our problems and we also hold the solutions to our problems within ourselves.
Me: I see, well thank you so much for this interview!, we look forward to what the future brings!
BB: Thanks, Bryan.