Written by Karel Aubun – Student Writer
Student Pages caught up with Gary Sinyor, Director of the new psychological thriller The Unseen for an exclusive on his new film!
You both wrote and directed the film, what inspired you to come up with the concept of The Unseen?
The original idea came about because I wanted to do something that was a bit like sixth sense but not like sixth sense. I wanted to do something that was cinematically unusual.
I literally sat in my office trying to come up with an idea for something that had never been done before, and what struck me after a couple of hours was the idea of doing a film in which the woman who had panic attacks that made her go terribly blind.
When she lost her vision, the audiences vision would also be affected. That was where I had the idea of the defining bit of the film.
The obvious thing that occurred to me, as I am a father, was to ensure that what created the panic attacks was, the belief that some however she had been accidentally responsible for the death of her child. So those two things came together quite early.
How did you know that the script you wrote was ready to be made into a movie?
There are two things, creatively I think the script was ready to be made into a movie quite soon after I had written an early draft. When I had written my draft I had thought this.
However it was set partly in a lighthouse That provided budgetary constraints. That ensured for a basically along time the film didn’t happen because ultimately the Lake District had the light house and we were looking in Tenerife, Portico and all sorts of places.
There was a very sorta particle thing. So although the characters and story was the same, it was only when I switched it to a Georgian House in the Lake District. That it became viable as a script.
Although it didn’t really change at the time, However when you find the location, things change because you realise what you can do in each room. You visualise that as characters walk out of one room you could have them do certain things. So I made the film specific to those locations. That we found and so the movie changed in that aspect, but never massively. The actors also changed things because when you go through things they may at times say that they are not sure about certain lines.
The movie is being market as a horror, do you feel like there is a gap in the market for horror films that focus on point of view like The Unseen did?
Yes, I do think that there is that gap in the market. I don’t know whether it is a thriller or a horror. It seems like we don’t have many thrillers. All thrillers seem to have to be about drugs and money. As apposed to this being a sort of psychological thriller.
I hope that there is a gap in the market for films which are not…and I think the phrase that became quite common for this is ‘torture porn’ kindly films; which I am not a huge fan of. I hope that the gap in the market can be more to do with the phycology of what goes on and that is what fascinates me in film generally. Wether it is a thriller, comedy, horror or a drama; it is the psychology of the characters and the emotional journey of the characters that are both interesting.
Watching Gemma’s POV’s I actually felt quite scared and worried for her, what kind of emotions were you trying to make the audience feel when they saw her POV (Point of view)?
Generally when she has a panic attack it’s because something has triggered her to think about the death of her son, in which she thinks she is responsible for. So thats if you like the insight that gets her into the panic attacks.
Then when she is driving obviously she has to respond to the things around her so there are those responses; and then when she is in the bath and hers Joels voice there are different responses. So in each situation or if Pauls there in the room with her there is a different response.
But in each situation it is the driving the point that gets her into the panic attack. She is thinking that she has been responsible for the death of her child.
There is one scene of sexual harassment in the film, how was you able to direct a scene that is both effective and comfortable enough for the actors?
The scene where he is putting his hands down Gammas pants was discussed with Jasmine at some length early on in the process. I am not particularly comfortable, it doesn’t come easily for me to go ‘oh lets just do a sex scene kind of thing’.
It was something that I new that I wanted to do and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I knew exactly how I wanted to film it in one wide shot, without cutting in which I thought would be manipulative because I wanted to feel and see what was going on painfully; and for you to identify this with the actors and with the characters. By doing this in one shot and not cutting, deliberately letting it play overlong, the idea was to make it torturous for us to identify with what Gemma was going through.
My starting point with the audience was always to identify with her character with Gemma.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers who may perhaps want to make films that too manipulate vision or hearing?
Any advice for anything filmmakers starts off with coming up with a good story and a good idea. Quite often I have either scene films or probably on one or two occasions made films or tried to make films where the story itself wasn’t strong enough before It started in writing.
The crucial thing and what enables you do be able to write,I mean a standard script is lets say between 100-110 pages. What enables you to write much more than that is if you know that you write more than you cut back. But if you know that you have got a good story you can write scenes and scenes and scenes and then sort out what you don’t need.
If you haven’t got a good story from the start, you will find yourself trying to write content to try and make it up to 110 pages. If the story is good then it should be relatively easier to write and longer that way you can cut it back.
Overall it is about coming up with the initial story, characters and what is going to happen in the film in advance and making sure that you are comfortable with it and that it will work.
The Unseen will be in UK Cinemas from 15th December – Book your tickets here: https://www.ourscreen.com/film/The-Unseen