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Martin Gooch - Director

Martin Gooch



Interviewee: Martin Gooch
Job Title: Director
Credits Include: Death (aka After Death), Spooks Interactive, Doctors, Hollyoaks, Arthur's Amazing Things
Interview Date: March 2014

Q. Hi Martin, give us a run down of the highlights of your film career thus far?
A. I am the only person in the world to have been a winner with BBC talent 'Best New Director' two years running. I am a BBC-trained director and directed the 2008 BAFTA-winning, and Emmy-nominated, Spooks Interactive. I have Directed Doctors (BBC1) Hollyoaks (C4), as well as more than 20 short films, pop promos and also commercials and virals. My debut feature Death (aka After Death) won eight awards, including Best of the Fest at Raindance, Best Director and The Audience award at the Bram Stoker Film Festival in 2012. My follow-up movie, The Search for Simon won The Independent Spirit Award at the Monte Carlo film Festival, and Best Movie at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival. I have a Masters degree in screenwriting, and I have worked on many feature films during almost two decades in the camera department from Harry Potter to Judge Dredd, even The Muppets.

Q. How did you come up with the concept for your latest feature Death (aka After Death)?
A. The concept for the film was really - what story can I afford to film! So the concept came together as a whole load of elements I knew I could get so the film would have high production values, excellent actors and a really interesting story. The main element was the house - I knew I could get the location we filmed the film in, so I wrote the story to fit the location. I wanted to have one main place where we would film for a week, and the cast and crew could all stay there and have a place to eat! The story came from my own experiences, I really wanted to make a ghost story - as I felt it was a bit of a lost genre - so many zombie, slasher and gangster films that I wanted to do something that wasn't being over explored - so mysterious ghost story it was!

Death - A Martin Gooch Film

Q. You're a director and producer of all your features - how does this impact your work, does it make it easier or harder? And would you recommend it for struggling directors?
A. It certainly doesn't make it easier! But when you are working independently it does mean you know exactly whether something has been done or not! It takes some of the worry out knowing that you checked the thing and it was booked. On a larger budget project there would be specific people who are working on the whole project from beginning to end, rather than just there for Production - so you can 'relax' a little and rely on the production team to take the heat off. But if your production team is only there for the shoot, then you have to keep you eye on the production ball, and especially the post production supervision. Which on a big film would be a single persons job! I would reccommend it and I wouldn't reccomend it. It has to be done - the producing, and if you can find someone who wants to do it and do it well then that is a wonderful thing - but if you want to make a movie and can't find a producer then if you really want to be the director you will become the producer as well! And if you don't you won't and it won't happen.

Q. What do you look for in a film?
A. Almost always story. An interesting film is interesting! I do prefer a genre pic to a drama, and I am totally over east end gangster movies. I'll watch any fantasy film that comes out - and anything about ghosts. Also very much like a good sci-fi film. Not interested in slasher movies - or any film that is full of unpleasant characters doing dreadful things. I want to walk out of the cinema fulfilled, happy and or amazed at what I just saw. I don't want to leave depressed. I can do that at home.

The Search for Simon

Q. What do all your films have in common?
A. They are all unique - that's what they have in common! Whether people like my movies or not - they are individuals and no-one is making movies like the movie I make. For good or bad.

Q. You're a real creative person, who not only writes, directs, and produces but also comes up with the concept art. Tell us about your artistic background and how these skills help you in your work or influence your work?
A. I was always good at art at school, and had an excellent art teacher (Mr. Beard!). I've always found drawing incredibly relaxing, but it takes a lot of time, so I never get to do it anymore. I did my degree in Fine Art with Film, and spent a huge amount of time painting. I'll go back to it one day. Communicating what is in your head as a director to the rest of the cast and crew and particularly the Director of Photography is a real skill and being able to draw (a bit) can really help. Photoshop has been a gift in being able to create interesting images quickly and (semi) professionally.

Q. What is the most important job of the director? What do you feel makes a great director?
A. A director has many jobs but the main one is converting the script on paper to noises and images that make sense and tell the best story in the most interesting way. That's what I think. There are many other jobs - captain of the ship, morale booster of the crew, motivator of actors, understander of technology, schedules, budget and time. All of these things are important (especially if you want to work in TV) but telling the story in the best way and actually having a 'vision' is vitally important. A good director always has a vision, and a good director is never on set doing nothing. there is always something to do.

Q. What are your top ten films?
A. This changes all the time - the films that influenced me hugely as a child I might think were rubbish if I saw them now… I can't just do ten... but My top ten of films that had a profound effect on me would be (in no particular order):

  • Time Bandits
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  • Excaliber
  • The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
  • Das Boot
  • Alien
  • Dragonslayer
  • Lord of the Rings (Part 1)
  • Monty Python meaning of Life
  • Brazil


  • Bladerunner
  • The Fisher King
  • Kelly's Heroes
  • Star Wars
  • Troll Hunter
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Q. Whats the wackiest idea you've ever had?
A. Wackiest idea I've ever had? Hmmm. Maybe Leslie Phillips ghostly floating head in the bell jar in Death. That's probably the wackiest that has actually been filmed.

Q. If you could direct something totally crazy, what would it be?
A. I'd like to direct Halo Jones the Movie. A really good sci-fi - or Deathtrap Dungeon - the fighting fantasy book as a movie… The world neaads more fantasy and escapeism and I've been put on this planet for that exact reason.

Thank you Martin, we look forward to seeing more of your excellent work on the big screen very soon :)

Death DVD Cover
Death is available to buy on Amazon and to rent on Love Film


Martin's Contact Details:
Contact: Martin Gooch






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