Ahead of a cast and crew screening of GHOSTED at Nottingham's Broadway Cinema later this month, Film Hub Midlands sat down for a chat with writer/producer Katie Redford and director Duncan Roe.

Duncan is a screenwriter and director from Somerset. In 2017 he won Best International Film at Kerry Film Festival, and Best SciFi at Phoenix Film Festival for his short NORO. His neo-gothic thriller LEVELS, is being developed by Clerkenwell Films as a TV series and he’s currently developing other television projects with several other production companies.

Katie is an actress and writer from Nottingham. She was on the BBC Writers' Room (comedy) and has since been writing for stage and screen. After winning the BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship, she's worked extensively in Radio Drama and now voices characters for Radio 4 programmes such as HomeFront and The Archers. Her TV work includes Mount Pleasant, Young Hyacinth, Still Open All Hours, and has recently finished filming drama/thriller COLD CALL. GHOSTED is her debut as a writer/producer. Katie has also recently won BAFTA Rocliffe - a scheme that BAFTA run for emerging TV writers and she is now developing a sitcom.

Can you tell us in a single line what GHOSTED is about?
Duncan: Our official strapline is... When a woman in her 70's loses her husband, she turns to the world of the paranormal.

Where the idea for the film come from?
Katie: I think myself. Duncan thinks himself. But basically, without giving too much away, we both put our heads together with two different ideas we had floating around that were to do with the world of the paranormal. After I attended a paranormal evening for ‘research’ we were sold and went on to write the script.

How long have you been working on the film?
Katie: We’ve been working on GHOSTED since January 2018 when we wrote the first draft. We had made the decision to self-fund the project so that we weren’t waiting around for someone else to give us the green light, with a plan to run a crowdfunding campaign during post-production. Everything fell into place quite quickly once we decided that we would produce the film ourselves. A couple of months later Alison Steadman had agreed to be part of the project, at this point we worked out the schedule around her, bringing on the rest of the cast and crew within the month. We filmed in the Spring, the shoot was a success and we cut together a short trailer along with a video pitch to crowd fund the costs that we’d already spent, plus extra for the post-production and beyond. During the summer crowdfunding campaign we had secured BFI Network backing, which enabled us do a lot more in post-production and meant we could retrospectively pay the cast and crew; who up until this point had worked on it out of the kindness of their hearts! We finished post-production end of Autumn and set the screening for early December which was a job organising within itself! All in all GHOSTED took us nearly exactly a year from conception to our premiere screening.

Is this your first film working together?
Katie: Yes. We wrote and filmed a few comedy sketches together and would always use one another to pitch ideas to but we never actually made anything together until one day, (after a morning of rejection emails!) we chatted through an idea and decided we were just going to make it. We were aware of how many hoops we'd had to jump through to even get a script read, let alone made so we just decided to get on and do it ourselves.

How did you meet?
Katie: We met one another at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009. I was performing in a play there (Miller by Paul Ferguson) and Duncan was friends with one of the cast members so came to stay with them and the rest is history!

How did you go about casting the film?
Katie: We were incredibly lucky with our cast. Some were friends of ours; others we'd never met before but we approached the people we wanted by sending them the script and were very happy that they all said yes! Our co-producer Anna Wilson Jones, who also stars in the film, put us in contact with Alison Steadman as they'd worked together before. Alison read the script and came on board. We were beyond excited about having her as our lead. She's a screen legend.

Had you worked with an actor of similar profile to Alison before? Can you tell me a bit more about how it was working with her
Duncan: I’ve worked with various television actors over the past few years but none with Alison’s profile. The biggest challenge working with actors as a director is communicating your ideas about the character in a way that doesn’t stifle the actors own interpretation. With each actor it’s different and particularly challenging when you’re meeting them for the first time on the day of the shoot, which would have been the case with Alison but fortunately we had met up a few days before to take some set dressing photos with her and Alistair Green who was playing her son. I remember feeling quite nervous because Alison has that rare ability to make you feel like you know her from watching her on screen, which of course I had in many different films and TV shows, but which of course I didn’t. When we met, Alison was constantly breaking the ice for everyone by getting in role as her character and improvising little ideas – it was a huge relief and suddenly we could see the character come to life and I knew immediately that Alison and I were on the same page. We developed a short hand on set pretty quickly which meant we were able to try a few different things and the biggest challenge became not laughing behind camera during a take!

Katie, tell us about being a filmmaker based in Nottingham
Nottingham is a city that I'm very proud of being from. It breeds tons of creative talent and I've always found that it consists of the most interesting people who have the most interesting stories to tell. It's real, it's inspiring and it will always be home.

And how does it feel to be screening the film for cast and crew at Broadway?
I can't think of anywhere else I'd want to see it on the big screen! When I was a child, I used to go to a ballet class across the road from Broadway so it's always been a nostalgic part of Nottingham for me, so to be able to show my first ever short film there feels really special.

What festivals will GHOSTED screen at?
Duncan: Earlier this year, we began submitting the film to festivals (most of which we won't know about until Autumn). We had our festival premiere at Portland Comedy Festival in Oregon and most recently we screened at New York Shorts Fest.

What are you aiming for next?
Katie: To continue collaborating and being involved in exciting projects, whether that's writing them, acting in them or even better, both.
Duncan: To be as talented as Katie.