Scroll below for a Q&A with Richard Kinsella
1) Please tell us a bit about your background and kindly describe the creative journey you are currently on?
Richard: Aside from my day job as a Property Developer, I'm an independent screenwriter and filmmaker from Manchester, UK. I mainly work in the darker genres like thrillers and horrors, but that's not absolute. I've picked up a few awards over the years, particularly for a short I made called End of the Tour, and my last short Captive. At the moment I'm concentrating on writing feature length screenplays, with the intention of shooting my first feature film next year.
2) What was the spark behind your screenplay for, Beneath the Surface? Are there any themes from films or books, for example, that help inspired you to pen a story like this?
Richard: The main influence was the figure of Leviathan. There are certain archetypes who follow us across time through different religions and ages, that seem to speak to us on a deeper level, and Leviathan is one of those. This idea of this great adversary, hiding beneath the surface, ready to awaken at any time and unleash chaos. So that was my starting point, I just had to find a story to fit him into and thought it would be interesting to put this huge, mythological Behemoth into a small, rural setting where the less epic evils of abuse, poverty and alcohol exist as a gateway to his more Absolute evil.
3) What I particularly like about your tale is that readers will need to ponder for themselves the true outcome of the events. So I'd like to go to the source here and find out - what is the definitive conclusion on that last page? Or is this one you'd like to keep open for interpretation?
Richard: It was deliberately ambiguous. Was there a real monster, a spirit form influencing his actions? Or was it a metaphor for the trauma the character had suffered that manifests in a disassociative, psychotic break? Both are possibilities. I also wanted a subtle ambiguity about his Mother's motivations. Was the Mother a vindictive alcoholic taking out her bitter frustration on her son, or is something else going on? Who, or what, was Andy's father? I always like stories where there are other interpretations, or other things happening in the background that you might not catch on a first reading.
If I was absolutely forced into one reading it would be that the entity is real, but it is Andy that performs the actions and there is more to Andy and his background than we are told in this short tale...
4) Are you a comic book reader in general, and what are your thoughts about the genre's influence within the film industry? Have we reached a tipping point, for example, given the volume of superhero films that are released so regularly?
Richard: I grew up with comic books. 2000AD, Marvel and DC, Grant Morrisson, Alan Moore, Frank Miller etc and I continue to read Graphic Novels to this day. I was going to start mentioning more names, but there are so many I don't wish to leave anyone out. It's a very fertile field. There is a certain "atmosphere" in graphic novels and something very special about the medium and it can deal with different stories and genres in ways perhaps not everyone is aware of. From quirky, personal matters, to major topics like war. There's a strange way in which the unreality of the images makes the subject matter more real, more impacting.
I think it's natural there would be an influence flowing both ways between film and comics due to the overlap in visual nature. Obviously, the Film Industry likes proven source material so something that works well in a visual format like a comic book is bound to be attractive to investors.
In terms of the current saturation of superhero movies, you would imagine that the bubble would burst at some point, but Disney have managed to release so many Marvel films and haven't hit a bum note yet. As an audience member, a large part of me is tired of the monopoly such films hold over "Cinema" as an art form, yet another part of me still finds them incredibly well made and enjoyable....and there's always a new generation being born and coming of age who have yet to experience them so who knows how long the bandwagon can run on for?
There are definitely times as a cinema goer, though, that you feel as though you are stuck in Groundhog Day: The same franchises you were watching as a kid decades ago are still the same franchises around today and what is considered cinematic has become less diverse than it was in the past. It's Steven Spielberg's fault, of course, he made the 'B' movie the 'A' movie with the success of Jaws. There's no going back.
5) In my opinion, audiences have been conditioned by studios to expect formulaic films as their means of entertainment in this current era. As a screenwriter, does this expectation factor into your own writing? Or do you feel a truly unique, well presented vision can forge its own path?
Richard: With this question it's always a Chicken and Egg situation: Are they providing what people want, or telling people what they want?
Could they use their marketing clout to push more diverse forms? You'd have to say yes. Would they make the same return on their investment? I doubt it.
I understand the desire for formula. It's a safe path. Take Spiderman, give him an interesting villain, have him deal with teenage, high school issues. It works. Replace Spiderman with the Black Panther, give him an interesting villain to face and have him deal with racial and cultural issues. It works. Rinse and repeat.
We live in very consumerist times and a lot of our entertainment is formulaic precisely because it allows people to know what they're going to get up front. It's the equivalent of eating at McDonalds. You go to have your expectations met, not confounded.
As a writer, you have to be aware of the expectations of genre and markets and cut your cloth accordingly. Formula is OK, I think, formulaic is not. You can take a formula and populate it with interesting characters, events, twists and emotions and make it great. The problem is when you take a formula and populate it with stahdard tropes and characters and it then becomes formulaic.
I believe a truly unique vision can always forge its own path. The world is full of very original stories in all mediums. However, you are competing for time against not only giant multinationals but the millions of other people doing the same thing so it's not easy. People need to be both expert in their craft and become expert at finding and marketing to their respective audiences. It's not easy, but that's part of the fun.
5) Please tell us where our readers may be able to follow more of your work?
Richard: You can check out the last film I made on Vimeo, if you so desire.