With Mindscape out in the UK on DVD, TheHorrorShow.TV’s David Hughes turned “mind detective” as he asked screenwriter Guy Holmes some probing questions about the film, which stars Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox and Noah Taylor.
David Hughes: I recall reading about the script sale back in 2011, but I assume this was not your first screenplay. Could you tell me a bit about your background?
Guy Holmes: It was my first script sale. I was a novelist first; I had a thriller called P.E.A.C.E. published and am working on my next novel as well as a new script.
How did the idea for Mindscape come about?
My sister, Martha Holmes, and I were pitching ideas to one another and it just bubbled to the surface. From the original concept of someone who could go to another person’s memories the story started to take shape. The film “The Bad Seed” has always stuck in my head and I wanted to explore that idea further.
Was the intention always to make a kind of dark thriller, or did you envisage a horror film at the outset?
I saw it as a dark psychological thriller. I don’t really write horror, per se, but having said that, I have a great idea for a script about possession!
How did the script evolve along the way?
My sister and I mapped it out and then I wrote the script. It did well in a screenwriting contest and that’s how I got my manager, Tom Drumm. Tom and I revised it until he brought another client of his, Jorge Dorado, who directed the film, into the project. Then Jorge and I worked on the script until Jaume Collet-Serra, the producer of the film, also weighed in with notes.
Was the finished film substantially the same as your original vision? If not, in what ways did it change either during development or once the director and cast came aboard?
The finished film has the same bones as my original vision and many of the scenes and lines are exactly as I wrote them. So the overall structure is there… but the original ending was very different. I don’t want to give anything away about the film but let’s just say the original script had a darker ending than the current film. Some of what I wrote in the final act was, I guess, too complex.
What did you think about the casting of the film?
Loved it. Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga and everyone in the cast just did such an outstanding job!!
Where was the film originally set, and how did you feel the Spanish/Canadian locations changed the basis of the film?
It was originally set in California. Locations always change the tone of the film but I thought the team did an amazing job with the locations.
Tell me about some of the ideas that were lost along the way?
The main thing that was lost was that good people don’t always win. Sometimes bad people win. I think the intricacy of the connection between memory and the actual past is now portrayed differently in the film.
How did you feel about the US title change (the film was released asAnna in the US), and why did that come about?
I like the title change. Both titles work, for different reasons. The title change was the idea of the U.S. distributor, Vertical Entertainment.
Is there such a thing as a “memory detective”, and if not, what is the nearest equivalent? Regression therapist?
Well, if there is I would like to go to one because I can’t remember anything. I was basing the whole idea of a memory detective on a kind of advanced version of what are called remote viewers.
What do you hope British audiences will take away from the film?
Things are not always what they seem, even among those you think you know well.
What else are you working on, and what might we be seeing from you in the future?
I’m working on a script that is set in London! A really cool thriller. Also working on the first novel in a trilogy set in the slight future.
Finally, what would you say are your Top 5 horror films?
I can’t do just 5.
2.28 Days Later
4.The Silence of the Lambs (is this horror?)
You cheated! But that’s an awesome selection (and yes, The Silence of the Lambs is most definitely horror!) so we’ll forgive you.
MINDSCAPE is released on UK DVD and available in the US (as ANNA) now.