The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill director Kevin Gates tells how childhood adventures lead him to make a film about his hometown’s haunted church ruins
Thanks for talking to us today. First off, great film. I like to think of it as an entertaining “Most Haunted” with nice, interesting people and some genuine shocks. Did you take any inspiration from reality spook shows?
I’m thrilled you enjoyed the film. The inspiration for The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill was mainly from the BBC’s Ghostwatch from 1992 that I’d seen as a teenager and the idea of doing something that seemed like a genuine documentary.
But it had to be something unique and therefore 90% of what you see is completely real and that was the hook – real location, real witnesses and a real investigation.
I remember when Most Haunted first came out and I loved the concept, but was quite disappointed with the execution.
I totally understand that something has to happen in the show, but the lengths some of the participants go to in some episodes takes the viewer out of the atmosphere of the setting.
I want to be creeped out when I watch these shows like I was when I saw Ghost Watch.
Do you have any favourite ghost reality shows? What do you like about them?
The first few series of Ghost Hunters are absolutely superb. I love the fact that these two ordinary plumbers go out to disprove hauntings and often end up uncovering things they can’t understand.
It reminds me a bit of what happened to our security team up at Clophill Church.
Clophill church is quite legendary but not many people know about it. How did you come across the church and its stories of evil spirits and satanic rituals?
I’ve lived local to Clophill for many years and grew up hearing stories about supernatural goings-on up at the church in years gone by.
This was pre-internet so it was difficult to find material on the site and find out what really happened up there.
Like most teenagers in the county, we drove up to Clophill on a cold night in 1990 not knowing much about the place and I remember the silhouette of the ruin in the rain and the overgrown graveyard.
It was very eerie and I didn’t go back again for many years until I took some photographs in the daytime and had a proper wander round the site.
I thought it was such a fantastic setting and how no-one had done a film on Clophill.
It took a while for me to find the right approach and the most important thing was to try to capture something of Clophill’s unique atmosphere.
Thanks for talking to us and I look forward to seeing Mothman – it sounds great!