New UK Film ‘Awaiting’- On Set Interviews by Dean Sills
Thanks to Mara Lubieniecki, the Head of Publicity for Mark Murphy’s upcoming film, ‘Awaiting’ I was invited to Green Screen Studios in Yorkshire to interview Mark and the cast of his new outstanding film. I also got a tour of the studios, saw Rupert Hill give a superb performance, after watching Rupert act on a couple of monitors. Wow! This was truly amazing! Mara, a lovely young lady, greeted UKHS with a warm smile on a warm day and went out of her way to make sure my day was perfect. All the cast and crew were a real joy and this is a true credit to the director for having such an awesome team involved in this gem of a project.
‘Awaiting’ is a Green Screen Productions in co-production with Solar Productions. This British Independent film maybe a psychological thriller but I have a gut feeling UK Horror Scene fans will bloody love this and from what I saw it’s definitely going to be one hell of a film that will appeal to many international audiences. The film is due for released next year.
Cast – Awaiting
Tony Curran ( The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Underworld: Evolution,Doctor Who, Defiance. )
Diana Vickers ( The Perfect Wave. )
Rupert Hill ( Coronation Street, Entity. )
Sophie Lovell Anderson ( Stag Night of The Dead, The Crypt. )
Morris, (Tony Curran), a recluse with psychotic tendencies, whose life changes when his innocent daughter (Diana Vickers) rescues one of his victims and befriends him. Jake (Rupert Hill) an ordinary businessman soon realises that he is stranded and his presence in the house gradually reveals unexpected and dark mysteries from the past.
OK, now you all know a little about the movie it’s time for the interviews.
Director Mark Murphy with Rupert Hill and Tony Curran
Mark Murphy Interview
UKHS – Along with directing you also wrote the story. When do story ideas usually hit you and what was the inspiration behind this one?
Mark – Story ideas usually come from the inspiration of what you see on TV, in the papers or on the news or it can be just something like a quirky idea that just hits you and it starts growing. You think well that’s an interesting idea and you wonder if that could happen? Then suddenly you start formulating characters and have a plot built around them. The idea for Awaiting, happened when I first started writing it, it was probably about 5 years ago. It was inspired by things that were just happening around, bizarre things like Josef Fritzl and all those things and thinking wow, this stuff really happened? It’s not just in the land of film that you hear and see these weird characters, it’s people who walk down the street, people we know.
I love films like ‘Seven’, ‘ The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Misery’ and all those sort of films and I thought this would be a novel approach to have it more of a family and the guy being caught in between a slightly unstable father and a slightly besotted daughter. I also threw in a kind of romantic element to it, even though it’s not a love story by any means but for the daughter this is the first guy she has had any full on interaction with, so of course she becomes besotted by him. I was interested in the unique characters and how they behave and react in this kind of situation, trying to humanize what is a typical kind of film story about two protagonists going up against each other.
UKHS – You have such a talented cast in this film, well done! Which character was the most difficult to cast and why?
Mark – Thank you! I think Lauren was probably the toughest one because she is the youngest in the cast. We needed someone young enough to portray the young character but mature enough in herself to carry off quite a complex character, I mean it’s someone who’s been isolated from the world and how do you play that and how do you portray that innocence on a subtle level? That for me was always going to be the tricky one.
We were so lucky with Diana, I didn’t know she was a singer before and during the audition I thought she was fantastic and afterwards I thought wow! she is absolutely quite established and she nailed it. She’s 22, I think? So she’s definitely at the age with her life experience so far. She had that maturity and that level of performance and had performed in front of large crowds, she had that weight of experience already behind her, not necessarily in films, she has done one film before but she is very natural, like a duck to water and all three are just incredible actors. Each one brings something unique to the story, so it’s a real nice kind of triangular.
UKHS – As a director, how does this film compare to your last feature ‘The Crypt’ and which one was more of a challenge to direct?
Mark – I don’t want to do a disservice to Crypt but this film is going to be much, much better. We have got the right arsenal to make this work with some incredible actors on this and the actors on Crypt were wonderful too . This time we’ve got a proper shooting schedule, more facilities and so on. I had a lot of fun making Crypt and I think maybe that was the problem. I think with this It’s not that I am having fun making this but I am working so hard, to me it’s a great sign to what we are getting, what we need and we’re getting so much coverage. This film has been a tricky one to do but I love it, I absolutely loved it!
UKHS – Finally, when did you first discover your passion for filmmaking and do you have a favourite director?
Mark – The first film I saw that made me want to do this was Batman back in 1989. I saw that and thought wow! I want to do that , I want to tell stories and make people excited and drawn in, the way I was for that film. I was about 12 at the time and thinking that’s what I want to do but maybe it was too much of a pipe dream. When I was doing my A-levels, I applied to this place when it use to be a film school and I came here. John Sichel, the founder, who very sadly died in 2005 was really the heart and soul of this place, so when he passed away they closed down but Alan Latham, the producer bought it and funnily enough I knew Alan but he didn’t know I had come here and when he came here and saw a photo of me on the wall, he thought what’s Mark doing here?
Ha! I got accepted to this place so by the age of 17, 18, I thought I am going for this, I am going for my dream. My favourite directors are Steven Spielberg, who is wonderful but I would say David Fincher is my favourite by far, he is a complete genius and performance wise with his actors he is just incredible, I take my hat off to him every time. So him and Spielberg. I also like Michael Mann. Some of his early work like ‘Heat’ and ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ were some of my favourite films, so those three are some great directors.
Sophie Lovell Anderson and Peter Woodward
Sophie Lovell Anderson Interview
UKHS – Can you please tell us about your character in the film?
Sophie – I play Nicola, she is Jake’s girlfriend, we start off in a fun loving relationship, we have been together for awhile and she is sort of looking to get married to him. That’s all I can really say without giving too much away!
UKHS – You worked with the director Mark on his last film. What do you enjoy the most about working with Mark and do you feel he brings out the best in you as an actress?
Sophie – Yes, he definitely does! I have know Mark actually since I was 19. I not only did his last film but I did a costume drama with him back in the day. 2005, I think it was? which was ‘Casanova’s Love Letters’. So it’s actually really lovely to work with a director who has seen me at the beginning of my career and catching up doing projects here and there. He definitely brings out the best in me because he knows how I work, we’ve got that Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, haha! ( I’ll put that out there to the Universe) relationship going on! Haha! He’s really fun and has always got a good idea of what he wants before he gets it. He’s on it but he’s also very kind of fun.
UKHS – What were your first thoughts after reading the script?
Sophie – I sort of worried about Mark’s mental state, ha! No, I really liked the originality of this script. I really liked the characters, it’s actually a very wordy, talky script, a lot for the characters to do, that’s where the more psychological thriller thing comes into it. I have never done a film like this before so I was really excited.
Awaiting Shooting at Night
UKHS – Sorry, wordy as in dialogue or in actions?
Sophie – Yes, It was very dialogue driven I think having read the script. It was really dialogue driven from what I first thought and there’s some really interesting moments, so I was really excited to do it!
UKHS – You have starred in a couple of horror films now including ‘Stag Night of The Dead’. What would you consider to be the three ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?
Sophie – Aside from putting me in it! Haha! I think you need to make a classic horror, this is a tricky one, isn’t it?
I think you need some kind of original weapon of mass destruction that perhaps someone hasn’t come up with yet, I mean we are a psychological thriller so we are not quite horror. The horror thing is going quite crazy now. So I think you have to be quite original of where you are going with it because a lot’s be done already. So I think originality is one. Make the story a little bit different to the usual gore fest. I think a good leading man because it’s always the man who needs to carry that one through , I think someone like Ryan Gosling and you need, good special effects. That was a tricky one, a good one!
Rupert Hill Interview
UKHS – Can you please tell us about the film and the character you play in it?
Rupert – The film is ‘Awaiting’, written and directed by Mark Murphy. It follows my character Jake, who is a fairly successful lawyer, he is very much in love with his girlfriend. He just sets off for a business trip and on the way has an accident. He is then picked up and rescued by this guy called Morris. He’s knocked out in this car accident and wakes up in this house where Morris lives and he doesn’t know where he is, it’s in the middle of nowhere in this isolated house amongst these trees. He wakes up and meets this young girl, who is Lauren (played by Diana Vickers) this beautiful young girl, who seems a little bit strange and she is instantly smitten with him.
Jake is very confused, he doesn’t know where he is and why he’s not in the hospital. Then Morris returns, played by the wonderful Tony Curran. Then the sort of mind games and things start happening and Jake is constantly trying to get back to his business meeting and every attempt to leave the house fails and skeletons come out of the closet. He realises they might be more to Morris than meets the eye. He’s also got Lauren trying to seduce him. It just becomes a sort of hell on earth and other characters start coming in to it. It escalates into a bloody finale and there’s quite gruesome things that happen. So yes, it’s a psychological thriller really more than a horror film so it’s a bit more in the spirit of ‘Misery’, something like that. That’s pretty much all I can give away!
UKHS – Right, thank you! How did you get involved with the film and what were your first thoughts after reading the script?
Rupert – Well, I was quite late in being cast. I got the audition and I read the script, it struck me as a character driven piece rather than a gore or action driven piece because that’s quite rare in horror and thrillers, sometimes the characters are secondary importance to the gore and the action. So that was intriguing and I thought they were three great characters at the centre of the piece and when I found out it was Tony and Diana I was very excited. I thought yes I can see that working! When we got into rehearsals it was quite clear it was really working. Hopefully we have got a good dynamic between the three of us and a lot of the film will play out like a drama, like a gritty drama, hopefully, which is quite rare in this genre.
Rupert (as Jake) being tortured
UKHS – What have you enjoyed the most about working with such a talented director, cast and crew?
Rupert – It’s a very serious piece of work and the talent on this job has been extraordinary on both sides of the camera and Mark is a very giving director, he was great to work with and on such an intense serious piece, everyone kept spirits up and it was very light when the camera wasn’t running. It’s been a really good laugh. I think I have enjoyed that, I think I have made some new friends and we have just been having a real ball doing it. We have one day left and I think we’re all a bit gutted because it’s going to end, we have had such a good time. The work has been exhausting and intense but the sort of playtime around it has been enjoyable. So it’s just been a real happy marriage.
UKHS – You are famous for ‘Coronation Street’ and your background in Television. How do films compare to Television and which one do you find most rewarding?
Rupert – I have also do a bit of theatre now and the thing I like about theatre and what I like about film too is that your character has a journey, a beginning, a middle and an end and an ‘arc’ to your performance and I find that extremely rewarding. The problem with TV, in particular Soap (because that’s what I know most about in terms of television) your character has endless stories. It’s great fun and really wonderful to do but what I really like is that ‘arc’, you can dissect your own character and where you need to be and where you need to get to, you invest a lot more of yourself into that sort of ‘arc’, so that really appeals to me. I had a ball doing ‘Coronation Street’ and the other tv bits I have done, I had a great time, met some great people, met my wife but I think with my experience in tv and my experience in film and theatre. All of them are very enjoyable but it’s that ‘arc’ I get hungry for.
Diana Vickers as Lauren
Diana Vickers Interview
UKHS – Can you please tell us about your role and the relationships between the characters?
Diana – Lauren is a young girl, who lives with her father in the middle of nowhere, no friends, no contact with the outside world, three channels on the telly. Her and Morris, her father have a very sweet love between them, he absolutely adores her even though he’s got a very dark side to him and Lauren doesn’t see any of that.She is oblivious to everything and really trusts him. To start off with, it’s a very sweet relationship then Lauren meets Jake. Jake comes into her life and Jake seems to bring out this kind of sexy side to her. It’s really interesting. It’s very character driven, the way the characters are with each other, it’s great. I really hope it come across.
UKHS – What were your first thoughts after reading the script?
Diana – I was reading it all from Lauren’s perspective and I was really upset, it’s such an emotional rollercoaster, it’s not just like a horror film with lots of blood. It really is emotional and psychological. I was really, really impressed. I went to the audition thinking I am not going to get this and this would be a great film and amazing if I got it. The director Mark is such a fun chap but in my audition he was really straight, it was a really great piece but yes I did feel quite emotional.
UKHS – What’s the atmosphere been like on the set?
Diana – It’s up and down , Me, Tony and Rupert we have just laughed and laughed during takes and just before some takes. Then others scenes which are really emotional and dark scenes you have to put yourself in this headspace which we go into and go to our green rooms and put on our music. During one take, I couldn’t stop crying in between takes because it was that emotional!
UKHS – Sorry, do you ever listen to your own music or just other artists?
Diana – I don’t really listen to me, I listen to other artists, sometimes I put my own songs on and have a dance but very rarely.
UKHS – Right, thank you. Over the years many singers have gone from the stage to the big screen. Have you found this more of a challenge than singing and acting in the West End?
Diana – It’s very different, I am learning constantly and Tony, Rupert and Mark, they are really helpful. I guess it is difficult but I take things in my stride and try to take as much advice as I can get.
UKHS – Do you find it easy to perform to the camera?
Diana – Yes, I love being in front of the camera, it’s weird seeing yourself back at first, going back in the edit, the way you move your face, your hands and you think oh my god! When you are on stage you are just there and it’s happening now, you don’t have to analyse anything but when you are watching yourself back and back again you do. I think I have taken to it quite well and one of the really nice things Mark was saying is I have to be quite big on stage with all the movements which are big, your voice and the expressions but on camera you have to really minimise your performance and Mark said to me I have done that naturally. So that was my biggest concern being over the top but apparently I’m not!
Tony Curran as Morris
Tony Curran Interview
UKHS – Can you please tell us about your character Morris and what challenges have you faced playing a character like this?
Tony – Morris, lives in the countryside, he lives in the woods in a house with his daughter, Lauren. She is his only family. He drives a pickup truck and he helps people in the area when they breakdown and so on. He’s extremely possessive of his daughter. She is the only thing in his life that he loves and without saying too much, there’s a very dark side to Morris. Things have happened to him in the past and because of those things the unfortunate outcome is things are going to happen to people in the future, whether that’s good or bad? that’s yet to be seen. He’s a very volatile individual at times, besotted by his little girl and he’s very territorial over her. That’s Morris, he has a lot of layers, things that happened in his childhood have definitely influenced who he is now.
UKHS – Diana Vickers plays your daughter in the film, what have you enjoyed the most about working with Diana?
Tony – It was really fun to meet Diana, she hasn’t done many films, she’s done a lot of stage work obviously, singing and stuff like that! She is obviously fantastic but this is a new sort of avenue for her and definitely for this role because this is definitely not a musical, haha! It’s definitely a dark edgy, psychological thriller. It’s a very different avenue for her to go down. I think she was very well cast (I mean as a film actres, working with her she is extremely professional and very subtle, the subtle qualities of innocence. Diana looks very innocent, she has that quality and with this character she is a young girl becoming a young woman living in this house with her protective father, she wants to bloom.
She is like 20 years old, she is a sponge, she wants to learn things and meet people but her father has not allowed her to do that. What Diana has been doing that’s been so impressive is suppressing that sort of urge to get out and go places and pleasing daddy. When the character of Jake arrives on the door step, she is quite taken by him. The sweeter girl disappearing somewhat, and a stronger independent young woman who wants to make a choice to maybe be with someone and get out of this house she’s been kept in. I think Diana performance has got a great range to it, very subtle but it also changes. Working with her has been a real joy. I think a lot of people are not going to expect her performance in this film but it’s going to be very powerful.
l-r Tony Curran, Diana Vickers & Rupert Hill
UKHS – What have you enjoyed about working with Rupert?
Tony – It’s been a real joy to work with him, he’s been nothing but a totally gentleman and the character he plays is arguably the most challenging of all the characters in this. Jake goes through hell and back in this film. Rupert is very giving as an actor and I guess the challenges that he faced, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, definitely in this film it’s been the case with Rupert and I think Rupert has put in an amazing performance with regards to Morris. I think I turned to Mark one day and I said that scene I just shot was quite disturbing, quite emotional, I think I said that was arguably the most disturbing, depressing scene I have ever shot and he said “Oh really? Can you tweet that please?” Haha!
UKHS – How do you feel the audience will react to this film and your character?
Tony – Hopefully they won’t walk out, haha! I feel the audience may sympathize with Morris. Morris has got a dark side that’s been created by the way people have treated him. I mean I don’t know people who were bullied at school, I was certainly bullied at school a little but nothing to the extreme of where I would take vengeance on people but definitely how I can relate to this, maybe not all of us have had vengeful thoughts against people but thinking and acting out those thoughts are two different things!
Thankfully, I am not a vengeful individual but Morris very possibly could be. For me that was a challenge to get into his head, he is quite a disturbed abused individual. I guess I related to things that happened to me at school or things that happened to me in the past that would emotionally have a factor in my life and you would factor that in from Tony to Morris. So that was tough because some days you would go to some dark places to find the emotion, the intensity you require to do it in the scene because some of these scenes are extremely intense and highly volatile.
UKHS – Thank you, Tony.
UKHS writer Dean Sills (left) on set with Tony Curran
After this interview Tony had to go off to shoot another scene but he did have another chat with me later in the day. We talked about some of his other work and his favourite roles including projects like ‘Nightlife’ and ‘Underworld: Evolution’. He told me about the many hours he spent in prosthetics during the shooting of ‘Underworld: Evolution’. I am a big fan of his work so it’s was a real pleasure for me when Tony went into the character of Rodney Skinner from ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ and he did the voice, wow! This was absolutely fantastic and very exciting to witness in person.
I finally asked Tony how he could switch off from the character of Morris to do press interview? He leaned forward in his chair, looked me in the eyes, displaying a very serious face and said, “that’s because I am Morris.” I was totally blown away and fell for it, not knowing if he was being serious or totally joking with me! This is how great an actor he really is. He then sat back in his chair laughing.
Tony also told me about when he got the role of Morris and from his home in L.A. he phoned Mark up and went into the character of Morris. Mark didn’t have a clue who was actually speaking to him on the phone and Tony kept saying to Mark, “It’s me, it’s Morris” Haha!
Meeting all these wonderful actors, along with the fantastic crew and seeing the film being made was a great experience which I truly enjoyed. I even got to chat to Sophie about Zombies and ask Rupert a little about his directing. Thanks again to all the cast and crew for their great hospitality and a big thank you to Andy Deen, the Editor of UK Horror Scene.
To find out much more about the film please click on the following links:
UKHS will also keep you up to date when the trailer is released. I know you may all be waiting but you won’t be ‘Awaiting’ long before this awesome film hits the big screen!