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Categories: Interviews

Simon Pearce is a director whose work includes the recent horror film “Judas Ghost”. Marija Makeska spoke with him about the film and his approach to directing.

Simon-Pearce-Director-Judas-Ghost

Simon Pearce first began making shorts when he was just 13 using the family video camera. After college, he elected to go straight into film work and took a variety of jobs in order to gain experience on set. This included working as a camera trainee, as well as a production, sound and video assistant, on productions ranging from the first season of BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford, to the feature film Casino Royale.

Throughout this, Simon continued to direct and edit his own shorts and, in 2008, when he was just 21, he was given the opportunity to direct his first feature SHANK, a gritty coming-of-age drama set in his hometown of Bristol. The film went on to secure US and UK distribution and has since played in more than 60 film festivals worldwide, netting two audience awards for Best Film and an Emerging Talent award for Simon in Miami. 

His second feature, Judas Ghost, is a supernatural horror film written by New York Times best-selling author Simon R. Green. The film has so far picked up four awards for Best Horror Film at festivals around the world, as well as Best Director for Simon at the British Horror Film Festival in October 2014. 

When he’s not directing, Simon works freelance as an editor for film and TV productions.  

What are the new things that you present in Judas Ghost in terms of style?

I think what’s nice about Judas Ghost is that it blends the new with the old – a style that is taken from the Ghost Finders book series on which the script is based. When he wrote the books, Simon R. Green was very aware that the trend for ghost stories was to set them in old spaces – abandoned hospitals, castles, ancient manor houses, and what he wanted to do was to update this, moving instead to more modern settings, such as supermarkets, car parks, office buildings, whilst keeping the stories firmly rooted in the ghost-hunting mythology that has been around for centuries. His inspirations go back to things like the classic M.R. James ghost stories and the 1963 film The Haunting

So the film itself is a nice return to ghost stories of old, but at the same time with a contemporary twist – the characters in the film come from a very sophisticated government organization and bring with them a lot of new technology. The film also has a nice balance of horror and humour, which is something that Green is known for in all of his books and was a lot of fun to bring to the screen.

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What was your favorite time on the set?

I have to say, as this was only my second feature, the whole thing was a blast – it’s also a little hard to differentiate one scene from the next, as being set in one space it all kind of blurs together!

I am used to working on smaller productions and in a much more guerrilla way, so with smaller crews and also at a faster pace because there is more to do in a day; this was such a great experience because I was working with a full size and very professional crew, as well as a team of very experienced actors, which was as much as a joy for me as it was a challenge. 

The set-pieces when things go wrong and practical effects were definitely a lot of fun to stage and shoot, such as the bloody trap-door sequence, and also the moments where the exit door moved around the hall, but sometimes shooting the smallest little character beat you think has worked can give you the most satisfaction. 

There were a couple of shots which were my little homages to other films, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Die Hard with a Vengeance, which people will have to see if they can spot, and of course I got a little kick out of those. 

Filmmakers sometimes say to themselves that they can improve just a little bit after every shoot. Have you ever had such thoughts?

Oh absolutely – I don’t think you ever look back on a project without thinking there was something you could have done better, but that’s the great thing about it, you’re learning constantly. As I said, this was my second feature so there were a lot of firsts for me – dealing with such a large amount of VFX, working so closely with actors, a large crew, I took something away from all of that that I can take into the next film. 

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What are the distribution plans? Where can your fans see the film?

The film will be available on DVD and via video on demand services in the UK from April 20th  – you can pre-order it now on Amazon and iTunes! It also comes out in the US late summer this year. Fans can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest release information. 

What are your future plans?

I’m developing my next feature right now, which is a gritty action thriller to hopefully shoot towards the end of this year or early 2016. In the meantime I’ve just completed an action short “Watch Over Me”, which is currently playing film festivals. The trailer for that can be seen here.

I’m also soon to release a 10 part science fiction web series called “Horizon”. See the trailer here.

What is your message to “The Spread” readers?

Whilst Judas contains a lot of classic genre tropes we also wanted to give horror fans something a little different with this film, so I hope that we’ve been able to do that and that you enjoy the film! 

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Marija Makeska is a writer, poet, filmmaker and a visual artist living in Detroit, USA. She enjoys spending her time with people from different cultures while working on various projects with pagan, or gothic themes.

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Posted on Apr 3, 2015

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