After months of amazing word of mouth and a few awards, Sundance 2017 darling A Ghost Story finally makes its way to UK shores this weekend and we couldn’t recommend the film more – check out our glowing 5* review here – so we felt privileged and excited to sit down with its writer/director David Lowery to chat about his unforgettable film.
For those of you who don’t know much about the film, which stars Academy Award Winner Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Academy Award Nominee Rooney Mara (Song to Song), you should very much keep it that way for the less you know the better. As you may have guessed from the poster’s and trailers this is indeed about a ghost-in-a-sheet story but it is so much more than that but Lowery says the idea was, on paper at least, first mentioned as a little bit of a joke, saying:
“It’s funny, it started off as a joke! I had this idea of “What if we made a haunted house movie or a horror film like The Conjuring but where the ghost is just a guy in a sheet and you see him all the time?” And the idea just hung around in my head but I’ve always loved ghosts and also the imagery of a ghost in a sheet.”
The film itself exploded onto the scene earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival but prior to its debut not many, if anyone, knew of the film’s existence – shot over the summer last year before Lowery went on the press tour for his Disney film Pete’s Dragon and with both Affleck and Mara keeping the secret, the director thought the film would be something of a holiday for him before the onslaught of world travels but in fact it was much more work than he had anticipated, saying:
“I intended it to be easy – we had just finished Pete’s Dragon when I wrote and the script was a 30-page script and there’s not much dialogue in it and so I thought it would be really easy to make and I knew we’d finish Pete’s at a certain date and it was gonna open in two months time and wondered if I could make a film in that time period and I thought it would be my vacation but it was actually much harder but also incredibly liberating as well.”
Aside from the image of the ghost in a sheet, the most interesting aspect of the film is its aspect ratio choice – 1.33:1 – which sees the film appear in a square image rather than widescreen, a size that Lowery had always wanted to try and with his desire to shoot the film with little cuts and long shots, as well as its personal story, it fit the bill this time:
“The aspect ratio was always something I’ve wanted to do, I love that aspect ratio and I wanted to see if I could shoot a movie in it. I knew that Disney would not have wanted to make Pete’s Dragon in 1.33:1 so this may have been my only chance to do it and so we went for it and it was way more challenging than I thought it would be because our brains are now trained to see in widescreen so thinking about how to compose an image in a square was pretty tough but I wanted it to be simple, to make something that was simple with as few shots as possible with as few cuts as possible and had an austerity that would allow me to make it personal.”
A Ghost Story opens in UK cinemas on August 11th.