Premiering at the 56th annual London Film Festival, Kelly + Victor is a compelling and dark study of two lonely individuals relationship, and The Fan Carpet's Stefan Pape caught up with director Kieran Evans during the week in which he presents his debut feature film to the public for the very first time.
Starring Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Kelly) and Julian Morris (Victor), we follow the pair as they delve in a dark, sadomasochistic world of fantasies lived out, and affections fulfilled, in a film based on the novel from Niall Griffiths.
Evans speaks of his relationship with the original author Griffiths, while also telling us of his delight in getting both Campbell-Hughes and Morris on board. Meanwhile, Evans discusses his future plans in film and how he may stay clear of submissive sex, for the time being at least.
Kelly + Victor is your debut feature film – and although you have done TV work and documentaries in the past has it always been your intention to get into cinema?
Yeah absolutely, it's been a long project, working on it on and off for about eight years to get it to the screen so we started this journey in 2004. But you know I've always been into film and it's been a steady progression really, trying to find the right project – I didn't want to choose a typical British film, like a crime caper or zombie films – so I was looking for something more that I was about. Although I don't know what that says about me, worryingly. But I've always been interested in films along with my mum who was a massive film addict and she used to keep me up at night watching Hitchcock, and things like that – so it's been there for a long time.
The film does deal with quite a taboo subject – do you have any concerns people may pre-judge your film given it covers quite violent sex?
It's not necessarily about violent sex, it's more about people walking around, thinking about why they're here, about people being fired up, that's the story – Victor being unlocked, it's not really about violent sex as such. It's two characters who collide, a bit like atoms and something sparks off their romance, and those moments happen all the time. It's much more about that, the sex is just the thing that unlocks them, but it's more about people trying to find themselves, needing some kind of answer as to why they are what they are. That's the subject matter that struck me when I read the book really, the sex is graphic but it's also about people who are struggling in life, trying to find who and where they are.
So tell us of the dynamic between Kelly and Victor's relationship? Would you agree they are two lost souls who need each other as opposed to wanting each other?
Yes I think that's exactly it, they're almost like ghosts really, lost souls searching for something. The book crashes in at that moment when they meet and then crashes out at that moment at the end, and that's what I wanted to maintain in this film – this idea that two people meet and they are lost souls trying to find something in life, with Liverpool being a great backdrop to the pain and suffering, it's people looking for some answers really. So that's what Kelly and Victor do – to try and find these answers with each other, they're struggling with life, and their many different flaws, shall we say. Thing is they can forget these flaws with this other person for the first time in their lives.
When you first read the book did you instantly start thinking about adapting it?
I read the book when away on holiday – although it's not a very brilliantly holiday read! Niall is a very visual writer, he conjures up images very quickly and when reading the book I was seeing things and sometimes you read books with the idea of making it a film and nothing really springs off the page but with Kelly + Victor it was a really strange reaction because things were flying off the page into my head and I read it, and then read it again because there were certain things going on in my head. I came back from holiday and went straight to my producer and said “I think I've found the book we've all been looking for”. You know sometimes when you read a book and you get so into it you miss your stop on the train, well my girlfriend at the time remembers speaking to me at dinner and me not hearing anything because I was so lost in the book, so that was a good indication that we were on our way.
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