Exclusive Interview with “Monochrome” Filmmaker Thomas Lawes

Thomas Lawes’ Monochrome premieres on VOD and DVD this June from Gravitas Ventures.

Featuring BAFTA winner James Cosmo (TV’s Game of Thrones, Braveheart), the killer-thriller focuses on a disillusioned young woman who becomes a serial killer targeting wealthy land-owners, forcing a brilliant detective to use his unusual neurological condition to track her down.

Jo Woodcock (Dorian Gray), Singer songwriter Cosmo Jarvis, Patrice Naiambana (Highlander: The Source), Lee Boardman (Jack & The Giant Slayer), Steve Jackson (TV’s Coronation Street) and Liz May Brice (Alien vs. Predator) make up the ensemble cast.

Genre specialist Devilworks was the sales agent on the title, releasing June 6 2018 on VOD and DVD.

-PH: When did your film career kick off, Thomas?

-Thomas: When I was 19, video cameras were expensive and as a teenage living on social security, way out of my reach. However, one summer vacation, I visited some friends of mine that I knew from local bar. One of them had a VHS camera his teacher Mom had brought home from a nearby college. When I arrived they were literally filming each other’s bottoms and I was like, “You have a camera? Let’s make a movie!”. I then spent the next week bossing everyone about and probably getting on their nerves but at the end of it, we had a 20-minute no-budget horror film, all edited in camera because, you know, VHS. The film was predictably terrible, but it was also a lot of fun. Eventually a cult movie magazine picked up and gave it a glowing review. Sam Rami’s Evil Dead was our biggest inspiration at the time. My elder sister made me watch it when I was 13 and I didn’t sleep for a week. Film making back then was clearly cathartic!

-PH: When did the journey on “Monochrome” begin?

-Thomas: We’d made a short film about a female serial killer called “Three Sides of the Coin”. I thought it would be interesting to extend that into a feature by bringing in a detective that was similarly isolated from society but for very different reasons. You see murder being justified for one reason or another every day on screen, I was interested to see where the audience would draw the line between self-defence, revenge or simply psychopathic violence.

-PH: It’s a film that’s hard to label as a straight-up horror- and that might be because it’s so intelligent. Was it important to you that the film be grounded?

-Thomas: Although I grew up watching the Evil Dead and Poltergeist, I’m not particularly interested in the supernatural. I guess I’m too much of an atheist to get involved in those stories. The famous Douglas Adams quote sums it up for me “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”. In 2018, there’s more real-life horror in Trump’s Whitehouse than Amityville.

-PH: And I suppose it takes good performers to also evoke that sense of realism?

-Thomas: Yes, and other than the script that’s the hardest thing to get right. From the earliest part of your childhood, you’re taught to spot a faker. Whether a stranger in the park or a bully at school, your survival literally depends on it. That’s why when we watch films we’re so hyper-critical of actors and why the good ones are in such demand.

Unfortunately, many of the big name actors just aren’t interested in working on a low budget film by someone they’ve never heard of. They love to mention in interviews about how they just loved the script and how it spoke to them personally, but when you look at some of the terrible film choices made by highly respected actors, it’s clear there are other motives to take questionable roles.

-PH: Was there anyone in the cast that truly surprised you?

-Thomas: Patrice Naiambana (Randall) just charmed everyone on camera and off. There was one scene where he was supposed to engage in dialogue after being stopped by a traffic cop but he just threw his mobile phone at him and drove off. A perfect illustration of when less is more.

-PH: Tell us about working with James Cosmo?

-Thomas: Due to his status, we didn’t interview James so the first time I heard him read my dialogue was on set. He delivered it with such authority he made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

-PH: What’s next for you?

-Thomas: We’ve already completed a silent film, an urban fairy tale called Amaryllis. At the moment I’m working on the live electronic score with the view to us performing it towards the end of 2018.

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