Johannes Roberts Interview
Johannes Roberts, hailing from Cambridge, is quickly becoming one of the horror directors of the decade and his new film STORAGE 24, written by and starring Noel Clarke (KIDULTHOOD, DOGHOUSE), is set to become one of the most notable films of the summer. Following his first hit feature F a lot is to be expected from Johannes in STORAGE 24. Johannes’ future is looking bright, and I took the opportunity to catch up with him recently.
Jack McCurdy: You directed Sanitarium at the age of 23. Was it always an ambition to start directing your first feature from such a young age?
Johannes Roberts: I am a control freak and can’t work for anyone else. I left university and just wanted to do my own thing.
JMc: What films or directors would you say have influenced your style most in making films around the horror genre?
JR: Oh, I’m just obsessed with John Carpenter as a writer-director and composer, and Stephen King as a story teller – I’m a big fan of a lot of the adaptations.
JMc: The use of sound is one of the key components to a good thriller or horror film, which is noticeable in F. How highly do you regard the use of sound in your films?
JR: Sound and music is key in horror. I grew up watching Carpenter movies and he uses such simple music to such good effect. Argento is the same.
JMc: In F would you say the aim was to highlight the “hooligans” and their behaviour, or more how the adults handle themselves under the circumstances?
JR: Definitely the latter – I was very interested in watching how these so-called pillars of society would react under this situation.
It was so fucking fast. It was crazy. We had to shoot four or five times the speed.
JMc: You gave your students the opportunity to help with F, was there any specific reason for this?
JR: Honestly, I had no money. I made the film on peanuts. I needed them. They were amazing though. It was one of the best shoots I have ever done.
JMc: ROADKILL was made for TV. How does TV film differentiate from feature film, and did this present any challenges to you?
JR: It was so fucking fast. It was crazy. We had to shoot four or five times the speed. It was also weird in that it had a budget of 1.6 million compared to F which had a budget of 100k yet I had less actual money on screen with ROADKILL – it all went on union wages et cetera. I actually couldn’t afford some of the people and effects that I had on F for ROADKILL. It was madness!
JMc: STORAGE 24 was written by Noel Clarke. What was it like to work with Noel after his stamp had been made with the teen classic KIDULTHOOD and featuring as Mickey in Dr Who?
JR: Noel’s great. Very professional. He was a dream to work with. Once he had decided in his head that I was going to be okay as a director he just switched off and let me do my thing. It was a really good relationship. He allowed himself to be put out there as an actor as well. We played him as a dull wimp – that’s a real risk for an actor but it paid off.
JMc: What can we expect from STORAGE 24 in comparison to your previous projects?
JR: It certainly has similarities with F in terms of the one location but it has a much bigger budget and a lot of humour. To me it feels a bit like GREMLINS in its tone. I went quite retro. The alien is incredible. You’ll not have seen a movie quite like this before.
STORAGE 24 is set to be released on the 29th June.
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