It all begins when Nick (Sam Troughton), a kind and sensitive graphic design student, having just moved in with four other students removes an old journal from a spirit clock – a bridge between our world and the next. Jenny (Billie Piper), a good-natured girl hiding from the psychic powers inherited from her recently deceased mother, explains to her housemates an array of paranormal effects which they discover in the old mansion: the spirit clock, the spirit catcher and the planchette. When Tom (Luke Mably) a smart and cocky drug dealer, Adele (Emma Catherwood), his feisty and sexual girlfriend, and Nick decide to play with the planchette, which works like a ouija board, strange and personal messages are relayed. Tina (Alsou), a beautiful, exotic and mysterious girl, hovers on the sidelines quietly apart from the rest of the group.

Mobile phones stop working. Mysterious noises are heard. When Tom’s stash disappears and a frantic house search ensues, Jenny begins to see things in the house - shadows of torches on the walls and an angry mob in Edwardian clothes who appear to torture a man. The spirits pit the students against each other as we discover the dark secrets of their pasts.

Nick and Jenny return to where it all began and explore the secrets which the old journal holds. There they discover the love affair between a young foreign widow and her African servant. As Jenny has a vision of the affair’s tragic end, Nick discovers that the last entry in the journal was exactly one hundred years ago.

The mysterious message which Jenny receives from her dead mother “someone must die” suddenly makes sense “a killer for a killer”. The living nightmare deepens as Jenny, Nick and Tina try to escape the house only to find the exit leads straight back inside. The boundaries between the real world and the afterlife are no longer clear and as time runs out, they must find a way to escape the Spirit Trap.


1. Why were you driven to direct a teen British thriller?  Have you always been a fan of thrillers?

Yes, I wanted to make a suspenseful ghost story, and for my first movie I felt I needed to aim at a specific audience-  I have very bright teenage kids who appreciate story’s with some depth, I did not want to simply make a film centred on killings.


2. Was it difficult to switch from commercial and TV documentary to feature films?

It was not too difficult although it was a complete different discipline.  I loved making ‘Spirit Trap’, I did not want filming to finish.  The studio floor is my natural habitat, it is unbelievably stimulating collaborating with so many talented people- actors and technicians.


3. How did the idea of Spirit Trap come about?

The producer was looking for a suitable project and when we read the ‘Spirit Trap’ and met the writer Phil O’Shea, I was pretty sure we had something.  A story of eternal love; something which has always interested me, damaged but strong characters with investing back stories and definite character arc’s.


4. Did you work closely with the writer and did you both have Billie Piper in mind for the role of Jenny when you were writing the script?

No, Billie was introduced to me through Carrie Hilton, the casting agent, late in the casting process.  I was looking for a strong actor with a youthful exuberance.  Billie simply blew me away when she read for me.  However Phil had met Emma at an earlier casting, and when I told him I was going to cast her as Adele, he admitted he had written it with her in mind.


5. Why did you decide to cast two music stars?

It did not work like that; I found Alsou first, a severe beauty whose classic look suited the parts of Tina and Irene.  She makes a believable modern day student, somewhat awkward and unstylish, somehow doesn’t get it right as Tina, but as Irene she looks a young woman of that period. I recognised Billie for her acting ability and had seen her in Canterbury Tales which was very good.  


6. Tell us about your collaboration with the writer and the producer.  Have you worked with them before?

I had worked with the Producer before.  She had produced a documentary for the BBC I directed and I also directed the Second Unit on her previous movie.  Phil is a nice, talented guy and he was very receptive to my ideas, however various people had input in the script.


7. What was it like to work with young and up and coming actors and two music stars?

It was great - they are a seriously talented group, however there is such a wealth of talent in England.  I was ‘spoilt for choice’; our drama schools and universities are so good and produce talented young actors.  The success our actors achieve is well deserved. 


8. Was it difficult to shoot the sexier violent scene with Emma and Sam? Was it difficult for them?

We discussed this at great length; I wanted to explore an abusive relationship without Adele being seen as a victim- I wanted to make her character strong.

Tom is a dangerous character, but great fun to be around.  Adele knows she should not be there but she mistakenly feels like she can control Tom and the situation.


9. What are the five most important things you would do before you die?

There is so much, but perhaps five good important and commercially successful films.


10. Have you ever played with a ouija board when you were a student?

Certainly have, but I was always the guy pushing, too scared at what might be the reality – I guess.


11. Do you believe in spirits and spirit traps?



12. What are you working on at the moment and what is your next project?

I have been asked to direct an adaptation of the Riders, a story by the Australian novelist, Tim Winton.  The screenplay is being written by Michael Hirst and is to be produced by Susie Brooks Smith and Robert Fox.  It is a fantastic story about one mans journey across Europe trying to reunite his family.  It has an overwhelming atmosphere of mystery, anguish, loss and hope. 


13. Was their any romance on set?

I could not possibly say but isn’t the screen chemistry between Tom and Adele electrifying. But of course that’s just acting isn’t it.


14. Any arguments?

Although there are differences between the English and the Romanian film cultures it was actually a very well tempered shoot.


15.If you looked back at the whole project, is there any one time, a snap shot from your internal camera you can describe to us of how you remember the film?

My favourite scene is the one where Tom and Nick go to the cellar in search for something to break open the attic door lock.  It is a turning point in the film, where Nick responds verbally to Tom who has until that point made Nick feel like a geek.  Tom’s brooding menacing behaviour is challenged by Nick who is in reality a much stronger character.


16. How was Billie to work with?

She was wonderful to work with.  There was a particular series of days that I had arranged for Billie to be up early and into make up by 8.30am.  On the fifth day of getting her on stage before noon, I was feeling so guilty.  I went to find her chatting to a runner.  I apologised and explained about the scheduling problems surrounding issues with the staging.  She simply looked at me and smiled ‘that smile’ and said…’David, don’t worry, you have your job to do and I love the way you are doing it, go do your job and I will be here when you need me’.  Please let her stay like that forever.


17. How did you persuade a young cast to shoot those quite sexual scenes?

As I said before we wanted to explore the abusive nature of a love affair but without Adele being perceived as a victim.  I had been given seven days rehearsal time, where we discussed each others characters endlessly and their relationships with one another.  Filming was just a matter of getting it done, however there was some serious chemistry between Tom and Adele.


18. Did anything supernatural happen when you were filming / any weird incidents?

A film crew works on a healthy diet of humour, in order to get through the gruelling schedule.  However, I hated the cellar location which was situated in a derelict but grand country house, an hour from Budapest.  The cellar had a sinister feel and the unusual, I do not know what had gone on in that cellar but it was weird.


19. How was it filming in Romania - don’t they just eat meat there? Were you all craving vegetables?

Filming in Romania was in many ways difficult, for example with the language barrier. Attention given to detail was not as precise as it could have been and the place is un- resourced.  We only had one door handle so for each shoot, the handle had to be changed.  However apart from the food at the studio, we all lived well in Budapest.  It boasts some fine restaurants and bars.


20. What was the standard of living there - Billie said there were a lot of stray dogs?

The stray dog thing was odd.  The owner of the studio loved dogs and tended to take them into his care.  It was amazing to see the old Hollywood producer tearing his hair out as he realised the barking was not being tolerated on set.  The dogs definitely took priority- quite charmingly and very funny really.


21. What was the hardest scene to shoot - emotionally?  Did any of the scenes upset the cast? Some of the scenes are quite dark.

Definitely, the scene at the end of the film when Tom is impaled to the attic floor with Adele standing over him was very emotional.  It was the only time that Emma got confused with her lines and Luke got so worked up in order to get his part right.


22. Will there be a sequel?

It has certainly been successful as a franchise; however I leave it for the public to decide…



Spirit Trap is released on DVD on November the 21st, 2005.

With thanks to Revolver Entertainment.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.


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