Ozgur Uyanik Resurrecting the Streetwalker interview

Resurrecting the Streetwalker was described as being ‘an absolute gem’ by our own Jonesy the Cat. As is often the case when Love Horror finds something exceptional, we tracked down the writer/director to quiz him on his creation. Jonesy reports…

Firstly, I must thank you for sparing the time to answer a few of my questions. Secondly, congratulations for making such an entertaining, truthful and well balanced film. Now, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Q: Resurrecting the Streetwalker deals directly with the horror genre in both form and content. What is it about the genre that drew you to it? Was the film conceived from a fan perspective or was it more of an academic decision?

The horror genre offers the type of visceral kick that no other genre can manage. Horror films can provoke fear, anxiety and revulsion that are all powerful emotions and you can do it with a smaller budget. Horror films can also be subtle and disturb the mind and elicit thoughts about our own sense of morality and relationship to violence, for example. There is a great deal of scope in the genre from quietly disturbing ghost stories to Grand Guignol extravaganzas.
That’s what attracted me to the genre but of course considerations of budget were also involved for reasons mentioned above.

Q: The film has quite a unique concept, especially in regards to making the main character a runner, a person who is usually kept furthest from the spotlight. What inspired this choice of anti-hero and the journey he takes?

The inspiration came from the memories I had of being a runner back in 2000 when I was on one occasion sent to the company’s storage basement to fish out some files. I ended up snooping about amongst the cans of film reels down there and saw one that was labelled “Dark Blood”. I hadn’t heard of the film so I asked around the office and they told me that it was the film starring River Phoenix that had to be abandoned when he died.
Seven years later when myself and producing partner Ian Prior (also once a runner himself) were looking for a project to launch our own production company, I remembered the incident and it all grew from there.

Q: The Streetwalker, the film within the film, is a vividly realised concept that could easily exist independent from RTSW. Was there or has there ever been a temptation to give The Streetwalker its own platform, whether as a short or feature film separate from RTSW?

Many horror fans at film festivals have asked the same question. If there is enough enthusiasm to see the full version of “The Street Walker” after the release of RTSW on DVD (which features deleted footage from “The Street Walker” but not the whole film) then I don’t see why it can’t be arranged with the right support.
If there is an audience out there keen to see the whole story then the will is there to make that happen I think in one way or another.

Q: The lead protagonist, James, in an incredibly well realised character and his experiences as a runner even more so. Are his experiences drawn from your own or those that you have observed?

The character was informed by experiences I and some other people I knew had as interns (unpaid runners) so it is all based on reality. One particular friend of mine tried really hard to make his mark but had to give up on his dream to work in the film industry because he wasn’t being paid a living wage and he simply could not survive. It was heart breaking for him. So it was a combination of observation and my own experiences that kick started the character of James R. Parker.

Q: Each character seems driven by their ego to one extent or another and, as a result, cannot admit to their mistakes. As much of the drama seems to be drawn from this internal conflict, do you find the ego to be pivotal in ones self denial?

Self-delusion, or self-denial, is important for success of course because without it you can’t visualise your end goals, it’s a form of imaginative long-term planning after all. However, for James and personalities like his, it is difficult to switch off this delusional mode of thinking when it is appropriate and so they keep flogging a dead horse despite the fact that they will never succeed with their current plan. They do not stop to pick a different path and cannot adapt to the situation because their ego has given them a warped world-view. That’s how things escalate and lead to tragedy.

Q: James’ enthusiasm towards finishing The Streetwalker is often sniffed at, sometimes in regards to the film’s genre. Do you find that horror films are burdened with certain stigmas? Are they not taken seriously as an art form?

“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, “Man Bites Dog” or “Old Boy” inflict different levels of revulsion and fear in an audience, as well as making them think. The art of horror has been with us for a long time; think Francis Bacon, Goya or go further back to Hieronymus Bosch and almost every church whether it’s a painting, fresco, stained glass, bas-relief or statue features scenes of horror. Therefore it should be taken seriously in my view as an art form when filmmakers use the genre to express themselves.

Q: At the beginning of the film we are given brief history on eighties ‘video nasties’ and the politics behind them. Do you have a favourite video nasty in regards to the reason it was banned or censored?

The best story about a video nasty being banned, for me, has to be for “Cannibal Holocaust” where the director had the actors sign contracts that forced them to leave the country and disappear for one year after the release of the film in order to add credence to the notion that the deaths in the film were real as per the marketing of the film. Unfortunately for the director it worked all too well and he had to prove in court that he had not in fact murdered his own actors – because they were nowhere to be found and would not come out of hiding to save the director from prosecution because they were honouring their contracts!

Q: RTSW, as a film that is so specific in concept and execution, could easily divide opinion. What do you think is the greatest and/or lowest praise the film has received thus far?

The greatest praise one can get as far as I am concerned is when audience members tell you (or blog) about how much they liked the film and the reasons why they enjoyed it jibe with what you as a filmmaker set out to do. So far, the positive reactions to the film have out-weighed any negative ones although you have to accept that you probably cannot please everybody all of the time. It is especially gratifying to have true horror film fans embrace the film and we have seen this at the film festivals we’ve attended. Someone said that it stands out because it takes the genre seriously and appeals to an audience’s intelligence to make it work—that’s high praise I think.

Q: Finally, what project are you working on next? Will you be returning to the horror genre any time soon?

I have a horror film project in development although my next project is a departure from the genre. It is a screenplay that I started writing a few years ago and I think now might be the right time to get it off the ground. But I am definitely coming back to horror in the future as there is a lot more to explore and it was a lot of fun making RTSW.

Resurrecting the Streetwalker is out today from all good retailers.

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Tom Atkinson

Tom is one of the editors at Love Horror. He has been watching horror for a worryingly long time, starting on the Universal Monsters and progressing through the Carpenter classics. He has a soft-spot for eighties horror.More

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