Friday, 12 December 2014

interview: xian vassie

The following e-mail was received in August 2003 from xian (Christian) vassie, director of uncompleted British indie horror Talisman. My thanks to xian for taking the time to reply to my out-of-the-blue enquiry.

Hi Mike

I have just found the letter you sent me in July. I have also nosey-parkered your article on Talisman. Good detective work!

I suppose you are principally interested in knowing more about Talisman. To be honest I think you have more or less covered all the bases already. It is the tale of another underfunded British film failing to find completion funding. As we did the cap-in-hand rounds, the most frustrating refusal we received was from one of the main funding bodies (I forget which) who turned us down on the basis that the project was too commercial! At that point I confess I became a little confused as to what the British film industry was all about.

I think your analysis, based on what you saw, is probably accurate - the film would have made an entertaining low budget horror romp. We shall never know. Two fifths of it was in the can when shooting stopped.

You have already found out that my principal work is as a composer. I have just finished a major series about the Medici that will be shown in about 30 countries early next year. Justin Hardy (director of Gentleman Thief) and I have worked on seven or eight productions including The Great Plague, which won Best History at the Royal Television Society Awards last year, and Invitation to a Hanging, which was shown last May and got rave reviews in all the papers. On Invitation to a Hanging I not only composed the score (a jazz/blues/reggae score for an eighteenth century film) I also did most of the sound design.

It is a shame we did not get to finish Talisman. From a creative point of view I was looking forward to using my background in sound to create an original movie. I am mindful of the way in which Blair Witch turned the rules of film making upside down, whereby the soundtrack is the narrative and the picture is an impressionistic collage. It had been planned to use sound to tell the story as well as to support it.

You have obviously found out a great deal about many of the cast/crew. Roger Eaton is indeed making a success with several good projects on TV in the last year.

Do I have any other directing projects on the go? Yes. Justin Hardy and I are planning a short film based on a story by Chekhov which we will co-direct. Justin is also well on the way with plans to shoot a horror film, for which I will in all likelihood be acting as composer. He is a great director to work with because he gives everyone involved in a production the freedom to break rules and to do their best work.

I hope the above is of some interest.


xian vassie

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