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