Axelle Carolyn, director of the new ghostly flick, Soulmate, took the time to chat about the film. Starring Tom Wisdom and Anna Walton, Soulmate is a twist on the horror genre, mixing a supernatural love story into the haunting film. If you haven't seen it yet, which was previously released in the UK, it is now available for preorder on Amazon with a US release on October 28, 2014.
What inspired the story of Soulmate? It was so original, unlike anything I had seen before.
Thanks! I've grown up with a deep love of ghost stories, and a few years ago when I was living in England, I thought I'd try and bring back the style of Gothic stories I'd always loved. The basic idea - a woman in a house, a ghost - was pretty simple to come up with, and once the characters were in place, the story felt very natural: it goes through ups and downs and tonal shifts, but it's all logical once you know those two people and the situation they find themselves into. I don't think it could have ended any other way.
You're obviously a film buff, what films put you in a creative mood?
I love ghost stories, obviously, like The Haunting, The Devil's Backbone, The Innkeepers, The Ghost and Mrs Muir, but also films which are character-based and a bit atypical: The Fly, Donnie Darko, Melancholia...
You had worked with the lovely Anna Walton on The Halloween Kid, so what was it about Tom Wisdom that made you cast him?
The actor originally cast as the ghost dropped out at the last second (funnily because he'd been cast as the lead in a new US series, like Tom would a few months later!), so we had to have auditions for the part. Anna Walton, an assistant and I all spent a long afternoon auditioning actors, and Tom was the last one to show up. So far no one had really clicked, but when Tom walked in the room, smiling and charming and soft-spoken, we all perked up! My first thought was, he looks like such a nice guy, with such lively eyes, there's no way he'll be able to play a scary dead man. But one of the scenes he read was a scene where the ghost gets angry, and he knocked it out of the park. So much energy - he turned into a different person. We kept our cool and didn't let him know until the next day, but he was cast on the spot.
I love that you used your own dog, Anubis in the film and appropriately kept her name! Did you train her yourself?
Thank you, Anubis is my little star! She's a fully trained actress and I did 'coach' her myself. She's a Basenji, known as one of the top three toughest breeds to train, but she's really smart. She knows lots of awesome tricks, understands she's not supposed to look at the camera, and now she's picked up agility as well!
You clearly are into the horror genre - can you recall the first horror film that you saw and loved?
I remember seeing the Disney Silly Symphony The Skeleton Dance when I was little and that was my first taste of the macabre. I loved it. Later on I saw A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Fly, and Re-Animator, but that was all much later, because I wasn't allowed to watch horror. So in the meantime, I read lots of horror fiction - Stephen King, Clive Barker, and the classics...
The chemistry between everyone in the film seemed so easy. What was it like on set?
The shoot was great fun. Long hours, cold and wet, very isolated, but because of that we all really bonded. The crew shared accommodations so we all got to know each other well and hang out. I like to play little pranks every once in a while to keep people happy, and Tom would always be ready to help. There's a scene in the film where Audrey and the ghost look at her photo album together. The audience never sees the photos, but Douglas comments on them so we can imagine what they're looking at. The first time we rehearsed the scene, I asked the art department to insert a few pictures of weird old farmers for the page when Douglas points at pictures of Audrey's parents. Tom played the scene very naturally, pointing at these completely absurd pictures while asking seriously, 'Your mum and dad?', and when Anna saw them, she couldn't stop laughing. I wish the scene had been filmed, it would have been a great B-roll!
The house that was used in the film had a character of its own. How did you choose it? Did you already have it in mind or did you have to do some scoping?
We found the house a few months before the shoot, looking at holiday rentals online. It's a cottage you can actually rent if you're out in Wales!
And last, any new projects in the works that we can watch for?
Nothing yet I'm afraid. I'm writing and developing a few things, but there's no way of knowing what will get financed first...
Any stories about Tom Wisdom you'd like to share with his fans?
First of all, I'd like to thank Tom's fan for their support for the movie! It's been wonderful! I'm so happy he's getting the recognition he so rightly deserves. Tom is, as you know, incredibly talented; he's also a joy to work with because he takes direction so well, which means he's able to deliver a line - or a simple look - in lots of different, subtly nuanced ways. His character is kind of unhinged, sometimes excited and happy as a child, sometimes completely depressed, and he was able to make every mood swing work seamlessly. He's also super nice and caring; he wrapped four or five days before the end of the shoot, but stayed with us in Wales until the end so he could be at the wrap party!
Thanks again to Axelle for speaking with us and for bringing us such a beautifully written film!