Powis Square Pictures are a group of independent film makers based in London who are just about to shoot their debut feature film The World We Knew. It’s a hybrid neo-noir horror film in which gangsters come face to face with ghosts and guilt. Powis Square Pictures have previously worked on a number of award winning shorts with the able assistance of people like Mick Jones (The Clash) who sound tracked their film Over & Over, Alice Lowe (recently seen in the excellent Prevenge), ultra cool French lounge-noir band The Liminanas (who’ll soundtrack The World We Knew) and Jimmy Page (yes, the Led Zep one) who funded their last short, Mirror #1.
We asked PSP to tell us about the new film.
PSP: “It’s a kind of existential noir with supernatural elements. Imagine Pinter meets Poltergeist or Samuel Beckett meets The Evil Dead. There’s a streak of pitch black humour running through the heart of it.”
OL: You’re making this totally independently?
PSP: “Yes. More or less. We had no trouble attracting an amazing cast to the project. We’ve got a mix of new faces and experienced actors. An incredible ensemble cast. And we have a great crew and technical back-up. But the film is quite different to the usual low budget crime or horror film. Which means that from the creative side of things we had lots of people wanting to get involved but the fact that we were trying something different, and that added to the fact that we always budgeted it to be tight and lean, made it difficult to get on board with mainstream producers who wanted something more traditional and safe.”
OL: So it’s experimental?
PSP: “Not at all. We think it’s a really accessible, commercial film. That’s the aim. It’s just that we are trying to be bold in the way that film makers used to be… We’re talking Godard or Cassavetes or Nic Roeg. Inventive film making but not wilfully obscure. If you like horror films or film noir then this is a film for you.”
OL: Is it a blessing then working without a production company looking over your shoulder?
PSP: “In a way. But of course at a real micro-budget we’re walking a tightrope at all times. We’ve got people doubling up jobs. We’re there painting the set and building props. We’re negotiating clearance for songs. We’re doing it all. That’s one of the reasons we started up the Indiegogo. Just to try and build some kind of safety net.”
OL: I looked at that. You’re offering all kinds of weird stuff. Gangster’s Blood. A ghost trapped in a bottle…
PSP: “As much as it’d be great to get some money in the pot that we can draw on as we move the film into post-production, the idea was to offer perks that were cool and unusual. It’s as much about getting people into the aesthetics of the film. Getting them interested in the kinds of things we’re interested in. To join in and be part of it and follow the journey.”
OL: I got you to do the Outside Left A to Z… I like your style… as Bukowski might have said. I thought you’d just list films.
PSP: “Yeah well the problem with a lot of new film makers is that they only seem to take their influences and inspirations from other films. There’s a whole world of creativity out there so why wouldn’t you cast your net wide. We’re as likely to talk to our set designer about the colours of a Francis Bacon painting as we are about the colours in a scene from a Tarantino film. That’s not being pretentious it’s just about walking around with your eyes open.”
A-Z of PSP
A - Ace In The Hole
A ruthless, misanthropic noir played out in bright sunshine. Kirk Douglas and Billy Wilder give both barrels to the American media and its insatiable public.
B - Charles Bukowski
"Style is the difference, a way of doing, a way of being done."
C - Gustave Courbet
The greatest of the French realist artists and painter of L'Origine du monde. As in-your-face as art ever got.
D - Les Diaboliques
Directed by the man who gave Hitchcock sleepless nights, Henri Georges Clouzot, this is psychological horror of the highest order.
E - James Ellroy
The demon dog of American fiction and author of the masterpiece that is the Underworld USA Trilogy. I still get weepy when I think of big Pete Bondurant.
F - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
For 40 films in 15 years and generally for just being mental and great.
G - Jean-Luc Godard
The father of transformative cinema narrative and grammar
H - Hieronymus Bosch
If I made art it would be The Garden of Earthly Delights. And I don’t care that this should be a B not an H.
I - Ice Cold in Alex
For not only fighting the scorching elements in North Africa but battling the Nazis all the way with just a dream of an ice cold beer. Classic.
J - Jim Jarmusch
Indie genius. That is all.
K - Aki Kaurismaki
Aki makes cool deadpan comedy films about small time drunks with big time dreams,often featuring the late great Matti Pellonpää. Calamari Union is one of the best films ever made. The characters always have a cigarette on the go - and so does Aki.
L - Ted Lewis
Cops ruin everything. Read any dull Scandi procedural crime fiction in the last decade and you'll see what I mean. Lewis wrote hard noir about criminals, betrayal and violence. Jack's Return Home was brilliantly adapted into Get Carter. Here's how you start a noir book: "The rain rained."
M - Jean-Pierre Melville
Master of existential crime noir cinema. Alain Delon pops up in a lot of his films - which is never a bad thing, especially when they are as astounding as Le Samourai.
N - Niagara
Punk rock goddess who fronted the avant-garde noise outfit Destroy All Monsters. When Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw went off to become superstar artists she recruited Ron Asheton of The Stooges... She's like a walking venus fly trap.
O - Yasujiro Ozu
Directed Late Spring and Tokyo Story. I'd be pretty happy with that. Remained single his whole life and died on his birthday. Loved a drink so much that he used mark the progression of his script writing not by page count but by bottles of Sake he had consumed in the margins.
P - Sam Peckinpah
Sam Peckinpah made a film called Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. It’s one of the top five best films of all time. Warren Oates is perfect. He starts off playing piano, which is a theme of the next letter and also the letter T. Here’s Warren. Fuck me, I wish I was Warren Oates.
Q - Q the Winged Serpent
I love Q the winged serpent, mostly because it features an almost certainly coked up Michael Moriarty playing the piano.
R is for Rowland S Howard. What else did you think R could be for?
S - Martin Scorsese
It might seem a bit obvious, but he’s fucking amazing.
T - Francois Truffaut
Francois Truffaut made the greatest film of all time. It’s called Shoot the Piano Player. It stars one of the coolest men who ever drew breath, Charles Aznavour
U - The Uncanny
After Freud, the notion of something being familiar yet strange, attractive yet simultaneously repulsive. The artist Mike Kelley once curated an amazing exhibition with this title and the idea of the uncanny hovers around the edges of most of the best ghost films and fiction
V - Velvet Underground
The cliché runs that everybody that heard them formed a band. That might not be strictly true but I’d bet that almost everybody that’s made great music, art, literature and film has heard them. Transcendent, terrifying and beautiful and often at the same time
W - Charles Willeford
He wrote for paperback houses that sometimes couldn’t even spell his name right on the cover but he elevated pulp noir to high art.
X - X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes
… a formative influence being one of the first late night horror movies I saw on TV (aged about 11)… a cheap Corman movie but Ray Milland is superb and the final scene - "If thine eye offends thee... pluck it out!" - is still disturbing.
Y - Your Arsenal
A cheat to get Morrissey on this list somewhere...
Z - Tapper Zukie
His 1973 album Man Ah Warrior is one of the greatest reggae albums of all time.
You can read more about the film at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-world-we-knew-film-horror/#/ and follow the film’s progress on twitter @TWWKfilm
I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.