Skip to main content

See also:

Tribeca Film Festival director Ivan Kavanagh and how to make a horror film

Exclusive interview with director of Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'
Exclusive interview with director of Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'
Dorri Olds

Writer director Ivan Kavanagh is an award-winning Irish filmmaker. With "The Canal" he has created a masterful psychological horror thriller. It premiered at Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) and stars Rupert Evans as David Williams.

David lives with his wife Alice (Antonia Cambell Hughes) and their 5-year-old son, Billy (Calum Heath). All seems well until David begins to suspect his wife of cheating on him and accidentally discovers film footage from 1902 about a brutal murder that took place in their home.

Examiner Dorri Olds sat down with the director and actor in Chelsea on April 19, 2014, one day after the world premiere.

Dorri Olds: What do you hope people left the theater thinking about?

Ivan Kavanagh: We left it ambiguous. I’ve heard all sorts of interpretations about what it’s about.

Can you say more without spoilers?

Sure, some people think it’s purely supernatural, others think it’s supernatural plus psychological and others think it’s just psychological. I love movies that don’t give you easy answers and leave you haunted. That’s the type of film I wanted to make.

How did you created the look of the old film reels?

I was researching old films stocks and read about this guy who had recreated the film stock that Auguste Lumière used in 1895. Lumière made all his own film stock. I tried to contact the archiver but unfortunately he had died. The next name I found was this guy who had all these old hand-crank cameras. He flew to Ireland with this particular camera. It had all the same exact working parts as it had in 1915 when it was used in the trenches in the First World War. It had been put in storage for decades and never used. When we got the stock back it looked perfect.

Did you become comfortable working with such an old camera?

The frightening thing about it was that there was no viewfinder. So you had to measure all the distances between the camera and the actor. You never knew what you were getting. So, we had an idea of the frame but we didn’t know whether the focus was right or what the exact frame was. It was a lot of chance and a lot of fear. We couldn’t afford a reshoot, so it either had to come out or we wouldn’t have any footage.

Was your stomach in knots during that time?

Well, you kind of put these things aside. I don’t worry about stuff like that.

You’re able to relax?

Oh yeah, I just get on with it. That’s for someone else to worry about. When, we got it back it was all perfect.

Exclusive interview with director of Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'
Exclusive interview with director of Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal' Dorri Olds

Exclusive interview with director of Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'

Writer director Ivan Kavanagh sat with actor Rupert Evans and Examiner Dorri Olds to talk about the haunting thriller, 'The Canal,' which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2014. The response has been phenomenal. Kavanagh talked about the details of how to make a horror film.

Actor Rupert Evans with Antonia Cambell Hughes
Actor Rupert Evans with Antonia Cambell Hughes Park Films

Actor Rupert Evans with Antonia Cambell Hughes

David (Rupert Evans) plays a man going insane. Here he is with his wife Alice (Antonia Cambell Hughes) before things go terribly awry in this masterful horror film. Writer director Ivan Kavanagh is passionate about writing and directing and making sure every detail was right.

Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller 'The Canal'
Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller 'The Canal' Park Films

Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller 'The Canal'

David (Rupert Evans) keeps trying to hold things together for his son Billy (Calum Heath) but his life is beginning to unravel. David hears voices in the walls. He is seeing things. Horrible things with his wife keep happening. He can barely keep it together.

'The Canal' starring Rupert Evans is a psychological thriller about a man losing his mind in a haunted house
'The Canal' starring Rupert Evans is a psychological thriller about a man losing his mind in a haunted house Park Films

'The Canal' starring Rupert Evans is a psychological thriller about a man losing his mind in a haunted house

Writer director Ivan Kavanagh paid close attention to every detail — casting, storyline, special effects, music. Directors are notoriously obsessive and this film is terrifying so it's clear that paid off. The haunted house is the perfect setting for a nail-biting film of terror and madness.

Irish actor Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller, 'The Canal'
Irish actor Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller, 'The Canal' Park Films

Irish actor Rupert Evans plays David in the psychological horror thriller, 'The Canal'

When asked how he chose Rupert Evans to play the lead, Ivan Kavanagh said, "I watched the film, 'Agora' that Rupert was in. There was one scene that really struck me. It was very unusual and a brilliant piece of acting. The guy needed to be handsome. But he also needed to have a vulnerability and instant likability. Rupert had that."

Irish actor Rupert Evans plays a man going insane in 'The Canal'
Irish actor Rupert Evans plays a man going insane in 'The Canal' Park Films

Irish actor Rupert Evans plays a man going insane in 'The Canal'

Ivan Kavanagh said, "some people think it’s purely supernatural, others think it’s supernatural plus psychological and others think it’s just psychological." He hopes the intense images stay with you long after you've left the theater. 'The Canal' was a highlight at Tribeca Film Festival (TFF).

Director Ivan Kavanagh and actor Rupert Evans talk about Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'
Director Ivan Kavanagh and actor Rupert Evans talk about Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal' Dorri Olds

Director Ivan Kavanagh and actor Rupert Evans talk about Tribeca Film Festival's 'The Canal'

Actor Rupert Evans said, "I think movies are attached to events in your life, like when you were a child. For me, 'Jaws' is a huge memory. And 'Don’t Look Now' really stands out." When asked if women throw themselves at him, the handsome actor said, "No, throwing of women. I’ve had a few odd letters, I cannot lie. But I suppose if I make people feel something, then that’s good."