…it’s a story that’s fascinated me since discovering it in the Usborne book of ghosts as a young boy (something I later found I shared with Reece, though he went so far as to build his own cardboard replica!). It’s a story that’s never been properly committed to film; a story of mystery, duplicity and why we need to see ghosts as much as why we need to prove their existence.
I spent 2 months boarding it and from the outset I never considered Borley Rectory to be anything other than a black and white film and evocative of a very particular era of cinema. It was to be the lost Elstree film circa ‘Dead of Night’.
I’ve never been wholly satisfied with modern attempts at replicating the look of vintage cinema. It’s far too easy to just rely upon Adobe / Avid plugins and a few scratch loops. I spent months gathering and studying the textural qualities of film and photographs from this era; contrast, frame rate, damage, grain but particularly focal lengths. Hollywood portraits from this era have a beautiful shallow depth of field and are often diffused to the point of appearing painterly. As spirit photographs too are often beautiful images, regardless of their authenticity, I wanted Borley Rectory to be redolent of both bygone age of filmmaking and a document to the dead.
We shot on a Red at 100 frames a second to facilitate grabbing the frames individually without motion blur to rotoscope and as I had to shoot a relatively deep focus to achieve a crisp matte line I achieved the varied soft focal effect by duplicating the footage in After Effects and then masking different areas on each layer at a different blur percentage, thus attempting to replicate that ‘gated’ focal drop-off.
We raised enough on our first Indiegogo in 2013 to get started and this sequence wherein journalist V.C Wall (played adroitly and enthusiastically by Reece Shearsmith) writes the report for the Mirror that will help make the Rectory notorious (the VO is verbatim from the 1929 Mirror article incidentally) was a no brainer to shoot first as apart from showcasing one of our key cast it’s a perfect introduction to both narrative and style; a collision of gothic archetypes and M.R. Jamesian manners and menace.
This extended Borley Rectory trailer is very much a mission statement and a promise of what the finished venture will look and more importantly feel like. It’s my obsessional love letter to a bygone age of British horror.
I hope it will edify you…It may shock you…perhaps it may even horrify you…but we hope you’ll follow our progress with interest and perhaps even help us raise a few ghosts!
For more on Borley Rectory please visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/borley-rectory-returns-production
Help us make Borley Rectory – Support our INDIEGOGO NOW! Runs until Dec 15th!