Having previewed as part of this year’s FilmFear, Kaleidoscope from Director Rupert Jones officially hits our screens on Friday November 10. Learn more about the film’s production in our Q&A with Rupert and his brother Toby after the jump.
The tense British psychological chiller Kaleidoscope brings together the talents of first-time feature director Rupert Jones and his brother, the ever-dependable actor Toby Jones. Their close collaboration has resulted in a Hitchcockian thriller that’s rich in atmosphere, narratively cunning and driven by a detailed and deeply-felt lead performance (with brilliant support from Anne Reid and Sinead Matthews). We spoke to the pair about family ties, genre confusion and making a mystery…
Is Kaleidoscope a film that you’ve been thinking about and developing for a long time?
Rupert: I’d written several scripts before Kaleidoscope but they were all a bit ambitious for a first film. I’d had an idea for a story that opens with someone finding a dead body in their flat and not knowing how it got there, but that was all. So when I tried to conceive of something more contained and affordable that idea seemed like a good place to start. Ideas tend to ferment on their own for a long time before they demand to be written down. After circling this one for a while, I had the notion that the killer’s mother would be the quasi-detective of the piece. That’s when I got excited enough to knuckle down to the script.
By the time it came to shoot the film, did you have a very clear idea of how it should look and feel?
R: When Matt, the producer, asked me if I wanted to build the flat, that’s when I knew how it would look. I love building and shooting on sets because the illusion is so total, everything has to be conjured out of nothing. I wanted to be bold with the contrast and the colours, and for the piece to have a certain timeless quality to it. Certainly, it had to feel claustrophobic.
Was the character of Carl written for your brother Toby?
R: Carl’s vulnerability was not always evident on the page. I think he was hard to like in the script but Toby has a quality of presence which is innately sympathetic. So I knew he could bring something of Carl’s innocence to the part.
Are you particularly drawn to dark mysteries or to psychological horror, two narrative types that Kaleidoscope has a relationship with, or do you find yourself not really conscious of genre when creating?
R: I’ve never been drawn to any one particular genre as such. I tend to be interested in characters who are somehow at odds with themselves or their own minds. I guess that would include psychological horrors such as The Shining, Vertigo, The Tenant, all of them films I love. To be honest, I’ve been rather taken by surprise by the kind of film I’ve made, which I count as a good sign.
Making a narrative feature must feel like a big step and a major achievement. Do you immediately find yourself thinking about your next feature or do you need time to let this experience settle and consider what you’ve learned from it?
R: It’s very exciting to have made a feature, especially when one watches it on a big screen with an audience that seems engrossed by it. Of course, the moment you get off the ride – and it’s a long ride – you want to get straight back on! I think it’s important to have a number of projects on the go, at whatever stage of development. That’s my strategy anyway.
Having already been involved in a project with your father Freddie (Andrew Kötting’s By Our Selves), can you tell us what it was like working with your brother Rupert on Kaleidoscope and how it contributes to the filmmaking process?
Toby: I get on with my brother and indeed my father but I suppose there’s an anxiety that working together might complicate things. In reality film making is an immensely practical business and familial ties become pretty irrelevant as the clock begins to tick on set. I’ve made short films with my brother before, comic shorts, so I feel pretty confident that I understand his taste. That said, it’s an unusual insight that one gets working with members of your family. You get to see them reveal another aspect of their identity…
You worked with Matteo Garrone on Tale of Tales, Peter Strickland on Berberian Sound Studio and Frank Darabont on The Mist – not to mention The Hunger Games and Harry Potter – all of which have horror/fantasy elements. Is this a genre to which you find yourself drawn?
T: Not especially. I’m drawn to scripts, directors, parts and sometimes locations. These were all good narratives. I’m often drawn to films which stretch, confound or combine genre. It’s hard for me to group these films together as they all feel fairly distinct.
Do you enjoy the ambiguity and mystery that comes with the parts you play in Kaleidoscope and Berberian Sound Studio? There’s a sense that not only are aspects of the characters hidden from the audience, but also from the characters themselves…
T: Well that’s good. In both films I’m the central character so the story is in a sense revealed through my responses. Both characters are in the dark and in a sense inadequate so they are not heroes in the traditional sense.
This seems to be an interesting time for esoteric British horror films. Have you sought out any of the recent titles that could be seen to have come from a similar place to Kaleidoscope? Director Ben Wheatley’s films or films such as The Ghoul or Prevenge perhaps?
T: Boringly I tend to be at the mercy of spontaneous and unscheduled trips to the cinema. Often the films I’ve wanted to see have already left town! This makes it hard to keep tabs on the current temperature. Ben Wheatley is good news for everyone though.
Your filmography is interesting in that it balances more personal or passion projects, some of which are UK based, with roles in more high-profile productions. Is that a balance that you actively strive to maintain?
T: People often ask me this question but I don’t really have a very complex policy or strategy. What makes my job enjoyable to me is the contrasts it affords. Not just the scale of the films but the fact that I get to shift time, place, medium and character all the time.
Kaleidoscope shows at HOME from Fri Nov 10. Find out more and book tickets here.
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