Interview: Johannes Roberts on ‘Storage 24,’ ‘F’ and Working in Genre

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Ben

Interview conducted by Keri O’Shea

British director Johannes Roberts has been making movies for over ten years now: these have ranged from the Tom Savini-dispatching Forest of the Damned (2005) to the first made-for-mobile series When Evil Calls (2006) – but to date, Johannes is probably best-known for the urban nightmare ‘F’ (2010), a film I loved. This year is promising to be a busy one: Storage 24, Johannes’ newest film, is due for its UK release on June 29th. Brutal as Hell were lucky enough to catch up with Johannes for a quick chat about S24, as well as his career to date…

BAH: Your new movie, Storage 24, is just about to get released. Firstly – what attracted you to this project? And are you happy with the result?

Johannes Roberts: I got the script while I was filming Roadkill over in Ireland. I’m really attracted to sterile locations – schools, hospitals, airports and so on – so it felt like an extension of ‘F’, really. On top of that, it meant I got to do my own alien movie. Working with Noel Clarke and Universal were obviously big factors, too.

I love the finished movie: it’s worked out really well. I remember seeing Noel after he’d watched the completed film for the first time and he was beaming. That’s a great thing to see.

BAH: Before you started on S24 – with one exception – you’ve written as well as directed your films. How different is directing a film you haven’t also written?

JR: I think, as a director, you have to take total ownership over the material. I treated it as if it were my script, lived and breathed it as if they were my characters. I think that’s really important – otherwise you’re just the guy organising where the camera should go.

BAH: You’re taking S24 to the Sitges Film Festival in Spain this year, where it’ll be entered into competition – considering the calibre of the festival, this is a big thing indeed. As well as this, Sitges will be showing a retrospective screening of ‘F’: now that it’s a couple of years since you made ‘F’ and the dust has settled a bit, how do you feel about the film and how it was received?

JR: I am still in love with that film. It was such a big thing for me to get a theatrical release on such a tiny film, and to get such a major response from the major critics was just incredible. It’s funny though – a lot of people hated ‘F’, and it died at the cinema. It just totally missed its audience, and I hope one day it will find it. Whether it will is a maybe, maybe not. But for me? That movie changed my career. Since then, I haven’t stopped working. And I still love the ending. I wouldn’t change a thing about that movie.

BAH: You’ve touched on this a little already in terms of how some people received ‘F’: how important are your reviews to you?

JR: Hmm. That’s tricky. Less than they used to be, maybe, but you always ignore the good ones and feel the bad ones. I still take it all quite personally, but I don’t hunt out reviews like I used to. When it comes to Storage 24, I’d love it to find an audience much more than I’m worried about how many stars it gets in a magazine.

BAH: As a director who has stuck with genre cinema throughout his career to date, specifically horror & sci-fi, what do you think of the horror movie scene these days? What, if anything, would you change?

JR: I really like this ‘found footage’ thing that’s happening: I don’t think I’ve yet seen the definitive version of that, and I think it’s a really interesting new route for films. I think sci-fi will become a bigger and bigger thing too, because you can do so much more for less money now. That said, I think there is still a lot of shit out there. I’d just love to be scared again. I think the genre is such a great opportunity to explore really interesting, dark themes that you just can’t explore anywhere else.

BAH: And finally – what has been your proudest achievement so far in your career? 

JR: Ha, that I’m still working. Don’t think many people ever saw that one coming! Also, I think by the time you put this interview out, the billboards and phone-box posters will be up for Storage 24. Now that’s pretty fucking cool.

Universal will release Storage 24 to British cinemas from 29th June – watch out for our review. Meanwhile, you can read Ben’s review of F from FrightFest 2010 HERE.