We first told you about ‘Scopia’, an independent psychological horror film and the directorial feature debut of UK director and author Christopher Butler, a little over a month ago when the first teaser trailer for the film was released. We thought now would be the perfect opportunity to bring you an exclusive interview with Chris along with some fresh, previously unreleased footage of ‘Scopia’. Chris talks about his directorial debut, trying to bring back classic horror and the possibility of reincarnation existing.
Q: Hi Chris, Scopia‘s your first feature and many people have asking been who you are… can tell us a little about yourself?
Christopher Butler: I’m originally from Liverpool. Over the years I’ve been a drawer, painter, an art director and an advertising creative. My love of film started when I was a kid. If one of my father’s favourite films was on T.V. he’d let me stay up late and watch it with him. Luckily for me they were some of the best films of all time like 2001, The Untouchables, Planet of the Apes, The Andromeda strain, Body Snatchers, Rosemary’s baby, Alien and too many more to mention. I was drawing comics before I was 10 and I’ve been telling stories ever since.
Q: You have a background in advertising, how has that helped with Writing and Directing ‘Scopia’ and what’s the strangest project you worked so far?
Christopher Butler: Being an advertising creative was a good training ground for executing your ideas. What’s also good is you work across every discipline from photography, illustration, design, music, animation and film. Working for a well known condom brand was an experience; I could never keep a straight face in the meetings. Shooting bleach commercials in Capetown was surreal. I remember shooting virals in Ibiza, plying the head bouncer of Manumission with booze and trying to film him running into a glass door. That got messy.
Q: Which directors have inspired you and what films and genres have influenced you most?
Christopher Butler: That’s a big question! William Friedkin, Werner Herzog, Roman Polanski, Stanley Kubrick, Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, Harmony Korrine. I could go on.
As a genre I’m drawn toward anything high in concept. The more original, the better. 2001 Space Odyssey. A film about the history of mankind! That still blows me away. Characters I believe in, situations that feel real, that’s powerful stuff.
Q: Where did the idea for ‘Scopia’ come from? What can people expect when they watch it, is it similar to anything out at the moment?
Christopher Butler: I’ve always been fascinated with the physics of the universe, but mainly the things we can’t explain about it. The universe doesn’t know the difference between good and bad so if a glitch occurs that disrupts your existence, you’re screwed. Matter cannot be created or destroyed, it merely changes form. That’s where the reincarnation idea comes from. Everything goes somewhere, a great premise for a movie. Scopia’s going to feel like a whistle stop tour through time and space. Think Donnie Darko meets The Butterfly Effect seasoned with classic horror like The Shining.
Q: Have you ever been hypnotised? And if you could have been anyone in your past life, who would you have been?
Christopher Butler: I’m actually signed up to do a hypnotic regression session soon. So who knows what’ll happen there. I’d like to have been someone like Yuri Gagarin. Being the first person to ride a rocket into space must’ve been the most terrifying and exhilarating experience ever. Into the proper unknown, like good writing.
Q: There’s a wide range of characters in ‘Scopia’ from lots of different backgrounds, has the film been easy to cast?
Christopher Butler: It’s been a real challenge as casting for multiple time periods and countries is like casting for multiple films. You have to get your head into each different character and era, then finding just the right talent to play them takes time. We’re currently trying to cast a giant!
Q: Has there been any funny moments during filming? What’s been the biggest challenge of the film so far?
Christopher Butler: Filming Scopia’s been a white knuckle ride so far. There was a scene in the house when I said to Joanna (who plays Basia) ‘Just lose control, stay scared, don’t worry about the camera, lights or anything’ She ended up running through the streets screaming, running in front of cars and everything, being chased by the crew. Great scene though. The main challenge has been time. We work at such a rate to stay on schedule. Time on set equals money, so you have to think around corners to achieve what you need with limited time and resources. ‘Scopia’ isn’t the “two characters in one location” set up. The scale of the story is huge for independent film, but that’s why it’s becoming something great and unique. So it’s all more than worth it to me.
Q: Even though there’s been a lot of interest already, Scopia‘s in the very final stages of production, have you left the most ambitious scenes until last? How important has it been to the creative direction of the film to keep the project independent? And how can people get involved in this last stage of the film?
Christopher Butler: Some of the most exciting scenes are yet to be shot. This is when the final ingredients that make up ‘Scopia’ will start coming together so it’s a seriously exciting time for me and the crew. ‘Scopia’ is a big idea so creative control and strong visual, iconic ideas are essential. Keeping the film independent has kept the vision true. I’m not out to make my first film, I’m out to make a great movie. We’ve just started a campaign to raise funds for the very final stage of filming. If you want to support ‘Scopia’ by making a pledge in return for DVD’s, Blu-ray’s, premier tickets and more, you can visit the project’s IndieGoGo campaign“.
IndieGoGo Campaign – Official Website – Official Facebook