“The third feature from British filmmaker Ruth Platt, and the feature adaptation of her short by the same name, MARTYRS LANE is a captivating ghost story fairy tale centered on young Leah, the daughter of a vicar, and the mysterious visitor that comes to her room every night with gifts and riddles. A rare film where the children actors not only shine but also bring a complex and nuanced performance to their challenging, leading roles.”
Director/Actress Ruth Platt’s film, MARTYRS LANE is playing at Fantasia Film Festival 2021. Ruth spoke with Horrornews.net via a zoom meeting.
Hi Ruth, how are you?
Ruth- Hi Janel, how are you?
I’m doing good. Thank you. Martyrs Lane was so beautiful. I think it was mysterious and such an intense ghost story. It speaks to you in many ways especially with the family aspect. How did this idea manifest for you?
Ruth- Thank you, I’m glad it meant those things to you. It was a long process of development. I developed with the BFI for several years. I guess it was a weird brewing of memories from my own childhood and nostalgia. It was influences from the Gothic tradition in literature and from cinema as well. It was a lot of different ingredients that came together to create this film. It was a slow-burn process so, hopefully it’s been filtered through so many layers of sand, maybe it’s got some different layers to it.
I know you have acted and directed before. What was it like for you preparing and directing this cast?
Ruth- I was lucky with my cast. I love to work closely with actors. Some actors are interested in the process and then some actors are very private. You have to sort of sense who needs what. I was focusing on working with the children because they were the critical elements of the film. I was trying to create these natural and spontaneous performances. I wanted to get to the truth of each moment.
I felt very close to this film also because I grew up watching horror films and they were my escape. I found some comfort in this. Was there some pain or comfort for you in writing this film?
Ruth- Potentially yes, it was painful and comforting. It is not autobiographical but there are elements of my own family and childhood in there. It was interesting creating the house because it did remind me of the house, I grew up in. I love being a writer/director, you cans shape these stories. That’s why I love horror as well, people will say, oh I don’t like horror. I don’t know about you but I’ve always had terrible nightmares and I find horror a way of exercising things that are hidden and suppressed, and putting them out there, putting them under a spotlight. I’d rather explore them and have them out there than hidden inside. I find that very therapeutic.
I agree with that. I’ve had a lot of horrible nightmares in life. I do love the house. I think when you watch movies, a house or a location often becomes a character within the film.
Ruth- I’m so glad you did. I had a memory of being a child alone in the dark and I had a relationship with that house that was positive and negative. It was a big house, and the house you grew up in your childhood, it’s still kind of the house I always think about when I think of home. That had a powerful presence in the film. It was a little bit like the mother’s brain. The downstairs was her daytime conscious self where there is lots of people, and then upstairs it’s silent and dark, and quiet. It’s her subconscious, her dream-state where the nightmares seep in so I’m so glad you thought the house was a character, that’s definitely what I tried to create. The walls being dark and Leah is melting into them, she’s almost like a little ghost herself. That house had to take on quite a strong presence.
I’m glad you said that. I think about that sometimes when I’m downstairs and I think about I have to go upstairs and deal with my own thoughts. It’s so strange.
Ruth- Yes, it is really strange, that darkness upstairs, it’s almost like entering your own subconscious. I live in a small house and I like that because big houses freak me out.
Yes, oh my gosh. I do have to ask you how do you feel about being part of Fantasia Fest 2021?
Ruth- I’m so happy about it. It’s wonderful. They have been so supportive and passionate about the film. It was a long haul. I’m really excited about it.
What are you working on next?
Ruth- I’m writing a lot. Cinema is my first love. I feel quite inside the genre now. I’m really keen to make another movie now.
The writing you do is so incredible. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom?
Ruth- It’s taken me a long time to get anywhere. I think I would say, just keep writing. Between jobs, at night if you can’t sleep. Visualize, collaborate, and don’t give up. Life gets in the way but keep your imagination alive. I kind of have to write. I don’t know about you?
Yes, I have to write. It is therapy.
Ruth- It gets stuck in your head and you have to get it out. If you get to a point where other people enjoy your work, that’s the great thing, I think.
Yes, I love your work. I love writing. It is meaningful. I write at the weirdest times too. I write in my car, I write notes.
Ruth- Yes, exactly. I do that too.
I thank you so much. It was such an honor to talk to you. You are amazing.
Ruth- Thank you, Janel.