Katherine interviewed the director of new horror movie Homebound, Sebastian Godwin, whose film premiered as part of the Fright Fest Film Festival.
The Glasgow Guardian: Homebound is part of Fright Fest Film Festival this year. I just wanted to know a bit about what attracted you to do kind of psychological thriller and horror, especially for your first feature?
Sebastian Godwin: Great question. I made a series of short films before now, which I don’t think I necessarily knew exactly what genre they were. But each time I made them, it was made very clear that I was making genre films, which I perhaps at first didn’t understand what it meant but then was tied to it and intrigued by it, but then I really understood exactly what I meant and was really excited by it, and that, actually, I really want to embrace this. I’m not sure I had necessarily or specifically aimed to do that, but I think that the stories, in particular, I am attracted to, it seemed, to fall into that particular category, if that makes sense. In particular to trying to understand something of human behaviour and perhaps trying to understand behaviour which I struggled to understand. I think the genre can often provide a great way to really tackle and interrogate those kinds of questions.
GG: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense with the family-based, psychological aspect, which was really interesting to see. I suppose leading on from that, with such a small, tight-knit cast for the film, I was wondering about how that came about. Were you very involved in the casting process with the casting director to get that right and make sure there was good chemistry there?
Sebastian: Hmm, great question. I think that first off because the budget was so minuscule, almost non-existent, it really meant that I should think that the fewer cast members that we would have, and the more concentrated the story could be, the better. So yes, a cast of five, three kids and two adults. We had an amazing casting director called Jesse Frost, who was a huge help to casting the film. I mean, I’ve seen Aisling Loftus on stage in the play, and I thought she was amazing. She was really excellent in the play. And from that, we then sent her the script, and we’re very lucky that she then read it and responded well to it, and was keen to meet up and talk about it and then to be in the film. And then from Aisling kind of the rest flowed in a sense. We were then very lucky for Tom Goodman-Hill to play her partner, and they knew each other from a TV series previously, which was excellent news. And then with the kids, Jesse, I think she’d sent us tapes, we met lots of different kids. One of them in particular is perhaps the most experienced cast member of them all, Raffiella Chapman. Way more experienced than I am. So in a sense, it was great that Rafiella, and then Hattie, and Ralph came on board too, it was just a really great little team of cast who were really up for it, and we were lucky to have them.
GG: They were fantastic. I was also thinking, since it’s your first feature and the UK premiere at Glasgow Film Festival, what was the process involved with moving from short films to feature? And what advice would you give people making that jump or starting out?
Sebastian: I think it’s not easy. It’s not an easy jump, particularly to do it with public money. I think that one of the challenges, and so one of the [pieces of] advice I would give us is it makes it a lot easier if you go through the journey that they tried to put down I think, which is that you need to apply to the different funding bodies, whether it’s Scottish Screen or the different regional bodies in England and Wales. I think it’s changed perhaps already since I was making those kinds of applications. But I would definitely recommend doing that. And then also just keep an eye on these schemes like Microwave, which is a scheme that Homebound was made within, because these opportunities are really invaluable, not just for the money, but also just for the expertise and the context, which can be hugely helpful.
GG: So are you planning more features next?
Sebastian: Yeah, I do have other ideas of films I would love to make. As is often the case it’s not easy to find the money to be able to make them. I’d like to make a film about a family who had to look after a wild animal in a very remote area in the UK, and it’s kind of about the line between domesticity and the wild disintegrating. I think it comes back to some of the questions before about human behaviour, and in what ways, or in any ways, are we different from the animal kingdom around us. I’m really interested in that particular question. And again, going back to your original question about the genre, I think, particularly these days, there’s this hybrid of horror and drama, and combining quite naturalistic situations with really extreme situations, which is really exciting.
GG: Yeah, that was my next question, if you were sticking within the genre for what you’re moving on to do. There’s a lot of debate and stuff right now around almost where horror is going and this elevated horror idea, which is seen as more psychological thriller or artistic, what’s your stance on that? Do you think that these more psychological, and a lot of family kind of based psychological films, are where the genre is heading?
Sebastian: I feel like that’s where it probably is at the moment in terms of so many amazing films, I think, being made, like Hereditary or Relic and these kinds of films which really do explore intense family dynamics. I’m similarly fascinated by that. I’m hard of hearing and for long periods of my life I didn’t want to and didn’t wear my hearing aids. I think that also led me to often take a strange outsider position of trying to understand other people’s behaviour, when I couldn’t necessarily hear what they were saying. I think that links to your question, when human behaviour is something that you’re trying to interpret I think it’s inevitable, that my films would take some kind of psychological approach to it. I find it hard to know what reality is, if that makes sense. So that’s why, I think, these horror films are just wonderful ways of both telling stories, but also capturing some kind of experience. I often felt that films in a way can be a way to try and capture experience as much as they are to tell stories in a sense. I’m not sure I particularly succeeded, but you know, Homebound is the first opening gambit with a very tiny budget, right? So I tried to make that kind of a film, it’s trying to capture a live experience of interpretation where Holly doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, and is trying to understand what’s going on around her. But like I said, not easy, I’m still learning.
GG: I love that way of looking at capturing experience. Finally, how has it been for you having your premieres at film festivals? Have you gotten to go along and see it at some and things like that?
Sebastian: Not at all. I mean, it’s been really frustrating because of Covid-19. The film was on at a couple of festivals in America last year, and it was the time when I couldn’t travel to go over. So Glasgow on Friday (11 March) is the first time I will be able to see it in a cinema with an audience, so it’s going to be really thrilling, really exciting, but inevitably also quite nerve wracking to see what the response is, and we’re doing a Q&A afterwards. So you know, wish me luck.
GG: Best of luck! It must be strange, kind of knowing that it’s going on and trying to see what the response is but not be able to be there.
Sebastian: It’ll be great to be there physically.
Homebound is available on streaming platforms now