Despite a feature in the making, Ashley Thorpe is embarking on a new short film, this time about famed haunted house Borley Rectory.
Hot on the heels of his high-profile radio play The Demon Huntsman, Ashley is reinvigorating his Penny Dreadful series with a new short called Borley Rectory, based on a true story.
But with the Spring Heel Jack feature in pre-production, why commit to another project?
“The feature is in good hands and is developing nicely but it’s a long-term project and I don’t think that anyone at Carrion Film wants to sit around and just twiddle their thumbs waiting for the machinations to start,” says Ashley.
“Getting a feature off the ground is as much about business as filmmaking. The shorts were genuinely devoid of much of that.
“Besides, the shorts were always an opportunity to experiment with ideas and approaches that later -hopefully -would be assimilated into future projects, so with such a major project looming, the production of something like Borley Rectory is absolutely essential.
“It’s definitely time to make a film for the love of the form again.’
Ashley says the idea for the film comes from some film fragments purportedly actual footage shot at Borley Rectory before it burned down.
He says: “Now the interesting thing is that -perhaps due to the degradation of the stock -you can in places see something strange at work on the film.
“So it got me thinking about ghost photography, EVP and all that, and what if we added to these genuine fragments and created a longer sequence exploring the effect of the form itself on the audience and explore their expectations.”
And in terms of film style?
“The fragments of telecined footage given to me were definitely the impetus to get this one rolling,” says Ashley.
“They’ve also given the project its visual identity, so in many respects the film will be something of a formal experiment as we try to match genuine footage with newly created sequences.
“The biggest departure from the previous films -apart from the stylistic differences -is that there’s no funding body attached, which means that this one can be as ‘far out’ and experimental as we wish.
“All the usual crew will be attached, specifically Mick Grierson who will creating the sound for the piece -which for this project will be absolutely crucial.
“We actually spoke a little while ago about how interesting it would be to do something that explicitly explored the relationship between sound and image -specifically regarding the absense of either sound or image and how the remaining form compensates or transforms the experience and expectations of the audience, so Mick as a formal innovator is very excited about it.
“We’re also going to stage a seance based upon the actual documented notes from Borley and this will involve a few actors, including someone to play Harry Price, so a casting call will probably go out soon.”
â€¢ Ashley’s history of the British Horror and the Penny Dreadful is in Fangoria Issue 305 -on sale now!