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18 June 2014
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Switching formats

Conjuring live TV as drama.

BBCi: Were there any ideas that you had to omit due to writing a ‘live’ 90 minute film, as opposed to a six part drama for example?

Stephen Volk: Lots, but I diligently tried to incorporate the good ones in the new form! For instance I always wanted a bluff skeptical character to act as a contrast to the Cassandra-like scientist doing the investigation.

When I came up with the idea of talking to Emilio Sylvestri by satellite it seemed perfect! I was always trying to maximize all the devices we know and trust from factual TV: the phone-ins, the jokey presenter, the earnest interview, the clips, the vox pop of the crowds.

It forced me to convey a ghost story in this way, but of course the hard part was that I couldn’t construct the drama in three neat acts with climaxes like a normal drama. It would give the game away.

I was adamant that nothing really scary could happen till about halfway through. You’d never believe a stake out on Halloween where we see a ghost in ten minutes! So the first 45 minutes is more or less all build up and set-up for things to pay off in the second half. You can virtually do a tick-list and see everything that is planted pop up and be paid off!

Read our review of Ghostwatch >>

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