Simeon Halligan is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and award winning director of short films SLEEP MY LOVE and TRIPLE EXPOSURE having also worked as a production designer and art director on numerous TV shows, commercials and films in the UK. LoveHorror caught up with him to get an insight into debut feature SPLINTEREDwhich is released on the 3rd September.
How did the idea for Splintered come about?
The idea was brewing for some time in different shapes and forms through a bunch of different treatments and script ideas. The consistent elements being: a young female central character on the run from an abusive past and her relationship with an estranged man, living outside society in an abandoned building. At first it wasn’t a horror film, more psychological thriller.
When did your interest in filmmaking begin?
I’m one of those filmmakers who knew that I wanted to get involved with the
medium from an early age. 1977 was probably the catalyst year. I was ten and dragged my parents along to see STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. In return my folks dragged me along to the re-release of 2001 the same year. I think my fate was sealed.
Did you make any short films prior to making SPLINTERED?
Yes – my very first was a somewhat over ambitious 27 minute black and white film noir pastiche called TRIPLE EXPOSURE, set in forties Chicago! SLEEP MY LOVE gained financial support from the UK Film Council’s digital shorts scheme and showed at a whole bunch of festivals once completed. Influenced by Nolan’s MEMENTO and Ian McEwan’s novel A CHILD IN TIME, the film portrayed the breakdown of a relationship after the death of a family member; the truth is revealed at the end as the story unravels backwards through time.
What is the 4K red camera system and why was it chosen for the production?
We worked at 4K resolution, which meant that the quality of image is hugely
detailed but it requires an awful lot of memory drive space to store the footage. The camera captures onto cards or hard drives and the material can then be transferred to an edit system directly without using film or tape as a recording medium.
Did you shoot predominately on location and where were these locations?
Finding the key location, the abandoned catholic orphanage, was a journey in itself, as I knew so much of the film relied so heavily on the environment and how the characters interacted with it. I’d seen pictures of St. Joseph’s and knew a little about the place and had tried unsuccessfully to recce it previously. I’d heard it was completely out of bounds. But after some effort, we managed to persuade the landlords. I’ve never been to anywhere else quite like St. Joseph’s; a huge rambling, gothic monstrosity of a building, which used to house a Priest school.
Were there any particularly difficult scenes to film?
We shot for around five and half weeks and every day seemed too short! Any scenes containing a lot of action or special effects were always the most difficult under the time restraints. Obviously scenes in which Gavin and Vincent interact were particularly tricky to shoot as both characters are played by actor Stephen Walters. These sequences were shot in two passes, each time Stephen would play one or other of the characters and we would use body doubles for the other brother. There isn’t one SFX shot used in the film to put both brothers into a scene, it’s all done with cutting!
There seems to be a preoccupation with doubles, pairings and opposites within the film, what does this mean?
I guess a clue is in the title; the SPLINTERED fragmentation of the human psyche, which echoes through the piece as a whole. There was a deliberate intention to show characters that are split in two, or can only function fully as part of or half of a whole.
It seems that Sophie is actively seeking out the threat – is this a subconscious desire for her to resolve the reoccurring nightmare that she has?
Sophie is constantly looking for answers, but in chasing myths and legends she is subconsciously avoiding having to find real answers to real questions and/or to confront the nightmare locked inside her head. She has spent her adult life trying to avoid the inevitable and horrific truth about her own life.
For more info check out the official site – http://www.splinteredthemovie.com/