Talking all things horror / An interview with Russell Geoffrey Banks from Who’s Watching Oliver

One of the biggest achievements in the genre is to combine a cruel picture with emotional elements. Not many horror films have been able to pull it off but, as I explained in my review, Who’s Watching Oliver is one of those cases.

One of the key elements in successfully conveying such a combination of emotions, tones and themes, was Oliver’s character: I had the pleasure to speak with Russell Geoffrey Banks –  who plays Oliver in the film – about the movie and his up-and-coming acting career:

1)     While skimming through your filmography I noticed that you have worked in a variety of genres. Is there one that presents more challenges or is that something that depends on the specific movie?

I am a huge film fan of all genres from old foreign classics to cheesy 80s to romantics to thrillers. I think I’ve been drawn to darker roles in horror and thrillers because that’s the part I can connivingly show of myself on screen. I’m not sure why I would like to mix it up as I get older. Take some nicer roles to give myself a mental break in between the more emotionally taxing roles.

2)     Working mostly on independent productions, would you say indie cinema allows more freedom for filmmakers and actors in comparison to studio productions?

I would say in one yes you have more freedom with the tone of your movie. You also have less people you are needing to please. But on the other hand, you have a lot less budget so your certainly limited to what you can achieve. If your using an expensive camera with 500 extras… Amazing props… and most importantly crew that’s being paid enough to make them happy… Will that also takes a lot of stress away and let’s you get to just being a story teller.

3)     Who’s Watching Oliver is one of the biggest sensations in 2018 horror. In my review, I described the movie as a nasty and disturbing serial killer film with surprising romantic elements in it. For someone who hasn’t seen it yet, how would you summarise the movie in a few words?

Firstly, thank you for all your support we have been blown away by how many people have helped us spread the word. It’s really meant the world to me. How would I summarise the film? I’d say it’s a personal look into a lost souls’ world. It’s a film that asks questions on whether you can feel sympathy for someone who is doing the worst things a human can do. We look into the effects of mental physical and sexual abuse that’s still ongoing. All the time mixed in with a modern day romantic story. It’s a film that I acted in and I’m not sure if it’s a horror a thriller a comedy or a romance… Or if it’s just a messed up film I was a part of.

4)     Tell us a bit about how you became involved in Who’s Watching Oliver? Was there a convincing factor to play such a damaged and complicated individual?

Yeah, I knew I wanted to play a serial killer at that point. I don’t know why I’d had a bad year and needed to unload alot of emotional baggage. I approached long-time friend and director Richie Moore and we decided to invite Raimund Huber on board. The three of us at down wrote the movie. In retrospect I think you can really see each of our inputs the beauty of the images coming from Richie Moore… The emotional arch from myself… Then with the extremeness of the momma character from Raimund Huber.

5)     Where did you take inspiration from for Oliver’s character? Was the director, Richie Moore, giving you guidelines or did you look up to other serial killers in movies? If so, who?

Well the inspiration came from multiple places. I’d say his look came from Raimund who had said about him looking like Marty McFly. Then I brought a lot of real emotions on board with Richie’s help at bringing them out.

6)     Would you say Oliver is a character to fear and be disgusted by or one to sympathise with?

I’d say both: how can you not fear and be disgusted with a human who can kill and torture and rape? It’s against every human moral code. But then how can you not sympathise with someone who’s also had to deal with abuse and is trying to escape that world.

7)     What were some pros and cons of working with an international cast and crew?

We had a great cast, I couldn’t be happier to have shared those experiences with Sara Malakul Lane, Margaret Roche, Kelly Woodcock they all came in and bared their souls for this film. Also, the crew: we were so small everyone worked so hard from Alex Boyeson, our sound guy, to Jesse Maddox, our editor, to Chariywan Tavoranon, our producer.

8)     Without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, the ending of Who’s Watching Oliver can be seen as quite ambiguous. In your mind, how does Oliver’s life continue and develop?

Well that’s the big question throughout the film. Can Oliver escape his life of killing and does he really want to? Or is this going to be an ongoing circle where Oliver needs to be the victim himself and needs to have that abuse that his mother pours onto him, so he can keep killing? I think the very end scene is the true answer to what will happen next for Oliver?

9)     Since everybody loved Oliver so much, the question on the tip of our tongues is:  what’s next in your career? What movies are you working on right now? What kind of role is on your wish list?

I have a few projects lined up. I’ve actually just agreed to a movie next year I’m excited about called Omeebo directed by the talented Stephan Zlotescu. I’ll get to work with Michael New again who I shared the screen with in Ghosthouse so that’s exciting. As well as a film in the UK called Magic Is Murder written by Simon O’Neill. Then other than that who knows I’d like to get on the road and travel, shoot some independent films all over this planet. On my wish list not sure just well written stories. When I read Michael and Stephen’s script for Omeebo, it blew me away and I was like yep I need to be a part of this movie.

10)  Hopefully, this interview makes people seek out Who’s Watching Oliver. Where can they find the movie?

Thank you very much for your time again I really appreciate your support. We are available on Amazon Prime free to members in the U.S and UK, as well as Hulu in the U.S. Then in Europe in certain countries we are on HBO. Then the Blu-Ray and DVD is available on Amazon.

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