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Fantasia ’14 exclusive: Comments and Dan Schaffer art for Simon (“RED WHITE & BLUE”) Rumley’s “THE GODLESS”

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One of the most intriguing features being pitched at the Frontières International Co-Production Market during Montreal’s Fantasia festival was THE GODLESS, the latest from British filmmaker and fest regular Simon Rumley (pictured above). FANGORIA spoke with Rumley and his producer Bob Portal there, and they provided an exclusive look at some character concept art by scripter/comics artist Dan Schaffer.

Rumley’s previous films include THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, RED WHITE & BLUE and segments of the anthologies LITTLE DEATHS and THE ABCs OF DEATH, all of which charted the unsettling psychological journeys of uniquely unbalanced characters. From the sound of Rumley’s synopsis, THE GODLESS spotlights some of his most unusual subjects yet. “It’s about conjoined twins who, at the very beginning of the film, have a fight and hack themselves apart from each other,” he tells us. “One of them runs off with the other’s boyfriend’s money; he’s a drug dealer, and gets an OCD contract killer to track that twin down. It’s a very crazy and amazingly exciting, interesting, unusual story.”

Unlike Rumley’s aforementioned movies, THE GODLESS sprang from the mind of another writer: Schaffer, the UK comics scribe/illustrator behind DOGWITCH and THE SCRIBBLER (the latter of which he adapted for the upcoming film version) and the screenplay for Jake West’s DOGHOUSE. The director found a few common threads between his work and Schaffer’s GODLESS script: “One of the main themes is about separation and loneliness, existence and togetherness. I suppose it’s a more subtextual thing, but it is very much about relationships. Obviously, with the conjoined twins, their relationship is a unique one of love and hate. The character Clementine is a married lesbian, with a lot of love there, but that relationship goes awry. My stories have tended to be, I suppose, dark love stories, and while this one is about more than that, there is a definitely an element of love and lost love.”

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“Simon is also very interested in structure when it comes to the stories he tells,” Portal adds. “RED WHITE & BLUE has a very interesting narrative framework; this has a different, but equally intricate structure, told as a series of self-developing, overlapping flashbacks. It’s a very tight, 90-minute script, but it has the sense of a multifaceted piece with multiple characters who are gradually revealed as it goes along.”

THE GODLESS’ complexity, Rumley adds, is such that it can’t be pigeonholed as any one type of film. “There are the conjoined twins, there’s the OCD contract killer, there’s a woman walking around at points with wings on her shoulders, there’s a nun who goes shopping and comes out in red shoes and a short miniskirt and stockings, so it’s a genre story, but it’s way more than what that sometimes suggests. It’s actually a very philosophical piece as well—which is not necessarily how we’ll sell it. We’ve been saying that the storyline is somewhere between CITY OF GOD and PULP FICTION. Those are the two most obvious benchmarks—CITY OF GOD because of the structure and PULP FICTION in that it has very identifiable characters we feel we’ve seen before, but who are presented in a different and unique way.”

One familiar element we’re likely to see when THE GODLESS hits the screen is the locations, as Rumley hopes to return to RED WHITE & BLUE’s territory to shoot it. “We’d like to go back to Texas,” he says, “somewhere in the southern part of the state, where there are long, open landscapes, and your nearest neighbor is five miles away. You drive down those long roads, and there will be a camper half a mile off the main road with no one else around, and it’s like, who the f**k lives there? It’s that kind of community we’re looking for.”

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About the author
Michael Gingold

Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.

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