(updated 9/17/07)
 Official Site


On general release in the UK Sept 17, 2004

Multimedia: Four new clips and an onset interview clip with Colin at MyMovies.net

London press conference transcript


Colin Firth

Mena Suvari

Naomie Harris

Tommy Flanagan

Brenda Fricker
..... Petra
Martin Hancock
..... Emery
Ken Cranham
..... PC Jackson
Kananu Kirimi
..... Carrie
Bill Maloney
..... Memorabilia Stall Holder
Alison David
..... Lauren Parris
Nina Hossein
..... Reporter

Frightened and disoriented, Ben (Colin Firth) awakes from a coma in hospital to discover that he has been in a car crash. When he learns that his wife Elisa (Naomie Harris) was killed in the accident, his world might as well have ended. To make things worse the outside world is obsessed with the very public death of pop star Lauren Parris. When this death turns out to be murder, media saturation ensues, leaving Ben to deal with his grief alone. Out of hospital and attempting to start a new life, Ben moves home and starts visiting Dr. Manor, a shrink, whom it transpires, saw him as a child after the death of his parents. He also picks up with an old friend Tommy (Tommy Flanagan), who takes pity on his grieving friend, particularly since Elisa's family want nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, Ben is befriended by his beautiful young neighbor, Charlotte (Mena Suvari). One evening, she invites him to a public séance with a well-regarded medium, Petra (Brenda Fricker). Ben, who has begun to be haunted by eerie visions of Elisa, takes up the invitation with chilling results. “Is he sad or is he mad?”  Trauma is a gripping psychological thriller with Hitchcockian twists.

Q&A: Richard Smith
(Scriptwriting and Script Reading in the UK, July 18, 2007)

What was the inspiration behind Trauma, and was it your first spec script?

I’ve actually never written a spec script. TRAUMA was commissioned from a five-page treatment
which was enormously brave (or foolish?) of Little Bird (ed: through their horror label, Ministry of Fear), considering that I’d never written feature-length before. It was the clashing together of two ideas, neither of which quite worked on their own. I’d become interested in people who start hearing voices in their heads after experiencing exceptional trauma, and I was interested in putting an audience through the disorientation that follows. I still needed a compelling hook (that all-conquering ‘what if’ question) and realised that I’d already found it in a different idea. Marrying them together was an explosion of the bleeding obviousand could have saved me months of anguish and self-doubt...

Can you tell us a bit about the experience, e.g. was it quickly sold, or did it do the rounds, or did it languish in development hell for a while, etc?

It was probably as close to development heaven as I’ll ever experience. It was rocket-fast. It took just eighteen months from a five-page treatment to first day of shoot. There was a lot of faith in the project, and a serious burn to get it made; it was proof to me that there has to be a serious
and powerfuldriving force behind a film. You can’t expect money to appear from nowhere, and you have to go out with total belief. On my second draft, we got Marc Evans (director) on boardwhich quickly led to Colin Firth, Mena Suvari and full finance (around £6m). We were in prep before I knew it.

What did you learn, good and bad, from the whole process?

Well, it gave me a false impression of the efficiency of development; it made me wonder why everyone was moaning about the time it takes to get things done! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way
it’s given me belief. I learned a lot about collaboration and re-writing, and the realities (and constraints) of the job. It gave me the opportunity to work with incredible people with real integrity. It taught me to enjoy prepwhen everyone’s raving about the scriptbecause you’ll quickly go from King to tourist. I join the ranks of the many in bemusement about the writer’s involvement/status when it comes to production, post and release. The writer’s input should be paramount, not avoided.

Region 2 DVD Release on Feb 21, 2005

Warner has officially announced Trauma, which stars Colin Firth and Mena Suvari, will be will be available to own from the 21 February 2005. The retail price will be set at around £15.99. As well as a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the disc will include an audio commentary with director Mark Evans and Colin Firth, a making of featurette and the films theatrical trailer.  The DVD can be preordered from amazon.co.uk here.

(Click on image for larger version)

Altered Images
(The Guardian, Oct 12, 2004, by Mark Salisbury)

As spooky locations go, St Pancras Chambers is among the spookiest. With its vaulted ceilings, peeling wallpaper, long, dim corridors and dank basement, the Victorian Gothic buildingonce the Midland Grand hotel, now Grade I-listedreeks of must and menace. A perfect place, in other words, to film a psychological horror chiller such as Trauma.

 Which is why, on a cold morning last June, Colin Firth is skulking the building's corridors looking more like a tramp than the heartthrob that Pride and Prejudice made him. Dressed in scruffy jeans and jacket, he looks dishevelled and downbeat....

"It is much more about mind games and paranoia and what might be frightening and what might be menacing," says Firth, during a break in filming. "There will be a bit of boo as well. It's unashamedly trying to mess with your mind a bit."

So how does Firth go about playing a man who is not in control of his senses? "If you're playing a character who can't distinguish reality from fantasy, you have to use your judgment," he explains. "If something seems real to you, you have to play it as if it's real. So in some ways it's perfectly simple. He thinks his wife's dead and then he sees her; thinks maybe she's alive, but he's not sure. You have to think yourself into that situation; it can be a fairly freaky thing. You certainly can't play a thing called madness, because nobody thinks they're mad."

According to Firth, the building is more than simply a visual metaphor for his character's descent into madness: its unsettling ambience has even seeped into his performance. "It's doing all the work today as far as I'm concerned," he says. "It looks paranoiac, if you light it right. So in many ways these are my days off. It's very rare that as an actor, you get any of the stimuli that your character would get, but they've managed to make the atmosphere so creepy at times."

The building was always been one of his favourites, Firth admits. "I'd been dying to get inside. It kind of surpasses expectations because it is just as kind of gloomy and ghostly as I'd hoped it would be, but is also more magnificent than I imagined. You can see squares where nasty paint has been taken off and underneath there's a piece of extraordinary Edwardian wallpaper." Of plans to renovate the building as a luxury hotel, he says: "In a way it's almost a pity to do anything with it. It feels like what it must be like if you could go down on the Titanic."

[Read full article here]

Marc Evans: Director's Diary 7

Not a good start to the week. Jonathan Ross on Film 2004 called Trauma the worst film he'd seen all year. Stephen Daldry called to say that he'd said that about The Hours too, which made me feel better. There is some solidarity amongst British directors after all, bound together at least in the knowledge of how difficult it is to make a film. Whereas the British press seem united only in one thing: to slag off British directors. If you don't believe me, see the reviews afforded myself, Michael Winterbottom and Ken Loach this week.


I don't know whether it's a good thing to be out here at the Toronto Festival screening Trauma while it opens in cinemas in the UK. I feel strangely dislocated, even though I know that there is little I can do for the film on the week of its release. Except obssess about the reviews and worry about attendances. OK, there is something potentially exciting about paying to go and see your film at your local cinema on the night that it opens but that excitement can soon turn to depression if there is hardly anybody else in the auditorium. And if the reviews are bad, it can all get pretty demoralising. Whatever anybody tells you: criticism hurts. The whole process can throw flattery and insult at you in equal measure; force you to question your vanity and challenge your self-belief.

The Toronto Festival experience certainly errs on the side of flattery. Visiting film-makers are welcomed here with open arms and the films are shown in huge theatres which are invariably sold out. Best of all, the crowds are made up almost totally of Torontonians, ordinary people with a massive hunger and enthusiasm for the films. So there is an element of schizophrenia induced on Friday - the day of the Toronto screening as well as the UK release - as I try to absorb the bad reviews Trauma receives back home (oh yes, there are some stinkers!) while simultaneously facing enthusiastic journalists and TV interviewers here in Canada. I tell myself that I must adopt an outwardly positive attitude, however vulnerable I am feeling, and talking to these people who have come from as far as Russia and Australia to interview me has a certain theraputic effect. I imagine a Trauma poster hanging beneath a chandelier in a Moscow underground station, with the title in Russian script. This cheers me up and almost makes me forget about the Siberia that I have been sent to by most of the British press earlier in the day.

As the interviews proceed however, I become aware that my family and friends back home are dutifully going out to see Trauma at their local cinemas. I imagine them sitting there watching it. Then I make a few calls to discover that the screenings have not been very well attended. Then I decide not to punish myself any further. My technique for this is a simple one. I remind myself that it is far more heroic to be unpopular than popular. I mean, who would I rather be: Johnny Rotten or Barry Manilow? Well neither actually (especially after I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!). But surely it's more exciting to be alternative than mainstream? I remind myself that Luis Buñuel spent years in exile in Mexico, that Michael Powell's Peeping Tom was condemned to the gutter on its release and that Terence Malick's Badlands had the worst test results ever. Then I have a drink and propose a toast to Jonathan Ross. It seems to work.


Going to dinner with a bunch of friends and survivors from the British film industry only makes things better. The most important thing, above all others probably, is never to loose your sense of humour and luckily for me Colin Firth has arrived in town with his intact (I thought actors were meant to be the neurotic ones, not directors!?). His presence at the screening, yet again, makes a difference. If you can produce a star or two from your movie, the audiences are really on your side and the red carpet treatment we receive on arrival at The Ryerson Theatre is overwhelming. Flash bulbs and TV cameras, screaming fans. "I want to have your baby!" shouts one during one of Colin's interviews. It's great fun. And after all the introductions and applause, the lights go down and there's silence. Showing your film to an attentive full house of over a thousand people is really quite thrilling. You can feel the collective heat of the crowd in the darkness. It transforms the cinema experience, which on a rainy afternoon in an empty auditorium can seem like a very solitary and internal one, into something more communal and theatrical. It's probably how cinema felt in earlier, less critical times. I am swept up in the moment and I'm glad that I came.

So, with the screening over I find myself basking in reflected glory rather than wallowing in self-pity. And there's a party too! See what I mean about schizophrenia? It's certainly been a week of mood swings. And of course there's plenty left to worry about; the weekend press for a start and the opening weekend's figures... but luckily, by Saturday morning, I have other things on my mind. Like my hangover. And my next film...

Marc Evans: Director's Diary 4

Questions, questions, it's been a week of questions. First there was the premiere at Edinburgh and then screenings at the NFT and Manchester Cornerhouse, all followed by a Q&A session. Then came the press junket in London. A thoroughgoing investigation into the world of Trauma! A cathartic process in some respects and occasionally fun. But you do get tired of "talking a good game", and bored with the sound of your own voice. Shouldn't a film speak for itself?


I have to remind myself that I, like the journalists, am only doing my job and that the paying audiences actually want to be here. This is not school assembly! And of course a good answer relies, to a certain extent, on a good question. Inevitably, a lot of the questions have been about Colin's involvement in the film and the sessions have been easier and livelier when he has been present. Though he is even more suspicious of this kind of attention than me (and gets plenty more of it), he has been a lucid and enthusiastic speaker; funny, open and honest.

Colin's biggest fear is having "to sit on a couch in a TV studio and be witty". He avoids television chatshows like the plague. I think this is a wise policy for someone whose natural mode of communication is honest engagement.

These shows can seem trivial and silly, and part of Colin's attraction to many of his fans is a Darcy-like mystique that comes from keeping a certain distance. There are some other 'celebs' out there who might do well to understand the value of UNDER-EXPOSURE. But I suppose it's a question of outlook, on whether they see themselves as actors who have achieved celebrity or as celebrities who act. The reality is that every decision a celebrity makes contributes towards their image, good or bad; it's a velvet trap.

The questions fired at Colin by audiences over the last week have been sometimes banal ("Were those ants real?"), but have more often revealed a detailed (obsessive?) knowledge of his career - for example, his role in Martin Donovan's 1988 film Apartment Zero has come up a few times, and on one occasion even his appearance in the TV drama Master Of The Moor - which I directed over ten years ago. In other words, they have been well-meaning and well-informed.

Better informed than some of the journalists, who have expressed surprise at his choice of the role of Ben. A career departure, surely, and very different from what he has done before? Well, NO ACTUALLY! Look at some of his work before and after Darcy and you will see he has played a whole range of disenchanted, alienated outsiders: in Another Country (1984) and A Month In The Country (1987), for example, and in the TV dramas Tumbledown and Conspiracy. For every Bridget Jones's Diary there has been darker stuff. (His next project, Where The Truth Lies, to be directed by Canada's Atom Egoyan, sounds very much in this vein.)


It is surprising, then, that so many journalists have suggested that Ben must be "a bit of a stretch" for Colin. As if playing an alienated art school dropout living in today's London is so much harder than playing an 18th century aristocrat who owned half of England and rode around on a horse! He is actually closer to Ben than the roles that have made him famous. Ben lives in Hackney, as Colin did before he became successful. He is an art school dropout, as Colin Firth might have become had he not found himself a career. OK, you'd need to swap that for drama school dropout, but you get my drift. In his own words, "there by the grace of God go I!" (check out his interview with Simon Mayo on FIVE LIVE).

Which brings me on to the thorny subject of celebrity and casting. In an ideal world, all actors should be unknown because this allows the audience an open mind in terms of the characters they present on screen. Being unknown allows an actor to present the character ambiguously and, if necessary, appear inconspicuous in a way that a star never can. But stars get movies made and bring people into the cinema. The fact that they have agreed to be in your film is also an endorsement of it, commanding respect from the crew and attracting other good actors to the project. And when they turn out to be likeable, hard-working, cooperative human beings like Colin Firth and Mena Suvari, then I have no complaints!

I am hoping with Trauma, that the public's perception of Colin will actually add to their enjoyment of the film. People trust him because of the other parts he has played and audiences, especially in Britain, feel that they own him, seeing him as an actor of integrity. They will therefore expect him to be honest and true, and want his character to be good. Or at least not want him to be bad.

Hitchcock was the master of this kind of audience manipulation often using "good men" in his lead roles, challenging the audience to trust them despite evidence to the contrary. James Stewart comes to mind in Vertigo. You follow his progress through the film, trusting him to be a "decent chap", and it is therefore more shocking when things are not quite as they seem, when his world becomes disturbingly off-kilter. In fact, his character in Vertigo is quite odd if you analyse it. As is Colin's in Trauma. And so the audience must decide: is he sad, mad or positively dangerous?

On the Radio

Press from the Edinburgh Fest

British actor Colin Firth was greeted by a hoard of female fans when he appeared at the premier of his latest film, Trauma.

Scotland Today's film critic Grant Lauchlan asked him if he though it was anything to do with the parts he has played, like Mr Darcy, who he played in a recent adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

He said: "I remember what life was like before that, it wasn't happening so it's entirely to do with that. It's all a bit phony really. I did look in front of the mirror a couple of times to figure it out but it was all too depressing."

Watch the video here:  [Quicktime]  [RealPlayer]  [Windows Media]

*   *   *   *   *

On the film, Firth said: “Often when you’re doing dark stuff like this you just have a laugh most of the time.

“One is almost embarrassed to admit that when you are doing all this angst you are having the time of your life.

“It is comedy that makes you go home depressed.”

And on his tag as a sex symbol, he added: “When I’m doing a job I become almost psychotically involved in the job to the exclusion of everything else.

“I just don’t think about what happened before.

“I am aware that when I work now I am bringing baggage with me as far as other people are concerned, but it is not really in my mind when I work.

“In some ways I feel it is a return to what I used to do.”

(Scottish Press Association by Hilary Duncanson)

Dark Stuff (by Alan Jones for The List's Edinburgh Festival Guide)

While he may be best known for playing 19th-century gentlemen and respectable love interests, Firth doesn’t see this grimy role as an absolute departure. “Marc and I go back a long way,” he explains. “We worked together on the Ruth Rendell TV movie Master of the Moor and I thought he was brilliant. While Trauma may seem a departure from what I’m now known for, it isn’t really. I was appearing in quirky features like Tumbledown about the horrors of war, and Apartment Zero about the human psyche’s dark side, way before I took on Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. So I feel I’m going back to my roots that were my territory in the early days.”

It hasn’t always been plain sailing. “I’ve had to constantly be reminded by Marc where I am in the story at any given time. Because Trauma is being done from the perspective of looking out from inside Ben’s head, in order for me to understand how I relate, I’ve got to know what he’s going to show the audience as I don’t see much with the naked eye. I also have to know if the scene is being over-cranked or under-cranked so I know how to modulate my performance because I don’t want to end up doing something totally inconsistent with the way I’m being photographed. All the visual trickery is being done in-camera, which is a relief as I’m not one of those actors who could tolerate dangling from wires in front of a green screen having to react to nothing.”

Both Firth and Evans are keen to locate the movie in a tradition of psychological horror films. “Marc is not shy of the generic aspects of Trauma and his love of Repulsion gives you a rough idea of the psychological zone we’re in,” says Firth. “The moment I read ‘cracks suddenly appear in the wall,’ I thought of the Roman Polanski film, which also deals with a lonely person in a big city apartment. Ben’s place is a converted hospital ward, which adds further resonance to the plot. And I haven’t even mentioned being covered in ants for some scenes— another significant symbol in the overall scheme of things.”

What he may say about his past roles, mainstream audiences will no doubt be perturbed by Firth’s move into the dark. Evans thinks he’s up to the job. “Colin is Britain’s best serious actor,” he explains. “I needed him to make the film appeal to the broadest audience. My Little Eye was a tough ride and it alienated many people. It satisfied hardcore horror fans but didn’t cross-over into the mainstream. I want Trauma to do that and hope Colin shifting around the tapestry of psychological moods created in-camera will work. All I can wish for is that the audience understands Ben’s tenuous instability. If they like Ben, and fear for him, but aren’t sure if they can trust him, I’ve achieved my aim. For therein lies the trick of the entire film.  (Read full article here.)

Online interviews with Marc Evans

There are several interviews with Marc Evans, which talk about Trauma, plus a multi-part Director's Diary on the BBC's film site that make for interesting reading. They are:

More to come

A modern Vertigo, with a twist of Lynch
(The Telegraph, Aug 14, 2004, by Mike Monahan)

Evans is now back with a fresh box of strange thrills, Trauma. Entirely British-funded, it stars Colin Firth as Ben, who awakes from a coma in a London hospital to find that he has been in a car crash and that his wife, Elisa (Naomie Harris) is dead. It turns out that, while he is grieving in private, the rest of the world is lamenting the recent murder of pop star Lauren Parris. The plot thickens further when it emerges that Ben may in some way be linked to Parris's death, his wife very much alive, and his grasp on reality fragile at best
and, when new neighbour Charlotte (a luminous Mena Suvari) appears, we soon wonder if she is even real.
Although similar in intensity to My Little Eye, Trauma is nevertheless a very different animal. "My Little Eye was about looking very brutally through an objective camera, at these five people," says Evans, when we meet in London, "almost as if they were lab rats.

"But the stylistically interesting thing about Trauma was that we're looking at it all from the point of view of this poor main character, who's in every scene. So it seemed a chance to make a subjective film
what was it like to be this man, this sort of troubled character?"

In some ways, Trauma comes across as a very modern Vertigo. Ben is in a grim state, but this is after all Colin Firth
Mr Darcy! Much like James Stewart in Hitchcock's masterpiece, we are at once reluctant to believe that he has anything other than sanity and rectitude at his core, while also harbouring the faint worry that he might be about to plunge headlong into the abyss. Is this what Evans had in mind?

"Absolutely," says the garrulous, charming 45-year-old, his accent betraying his south-Wales origins. "I'd long thought, whatever happened to those man-in-a-suit films? Trauma's not quite that
it's a man-in-a-hooded-top film, reallybut it's a basically Hitchcockian film of the man that you rely upon, on whose side you 'know' you're going to be.

"I thought that Colin post-Darcy could bring all that with him, in a Henry Fonda kind of way. But you start to question him as you do with Fonda in Vertigo: is he a reliable narrator?"

As his fleeting muddle over Fonda/Stewart suggests, Evans has an engaging conversational knack for getting names wrong. As a director, however, he could not be more meticulous. Like My Little Eye, Trauma has an evenness of tone and an absolute refusal to let the audience relax that will not be to everyone's taste, but which are expertly achieved.

The film is an extraordinary collage of bleak London cityscapes and neurotic, intimate close-ups
brilliantly shot by John Mathieson, Ridley Scott's cinematographer of choice, and beautifully scored by Touching the Void's Alex Heffes. It feels the work of a man who admires not just Hitchcock, but David Lynch too.
"Well," says Evans, "that's the biggest compliment you can pay me! When I think of David Lynch, I also think of his lineage, and part of that is Surrealism. And whenever I start making a film, there are pictures I stick on the wall, and the one I chose for this was by [Italian Surrealist] De Chirico.

"He does something with these railway bridges and colonnades that scares the shit out of you, and I was trying to think, how does he do that? And what is scary about the guy in Lynch's Eraserhead walking under the concrete bridge?

"There's something about bridges, and lone objects in gutters
it comes out of, if you like, the Surrealist handbook, of which Lynch is the greatest living exponent. It's just the stuff I like, the stuff of nightmares, and I aspired to work that into the film."

Marc Evans interview for BBC (by Stella Papamichael)

Trauma is very uncomfortable to watch. Are you worried about the way audiences will receive it?

Well, that's the danger with this kind of film. You want to make it intriguing and odd and all that stuff, but you don't want to alienate the audience. I suppose, basically, you have to make sure that it doesn't put people off too much. But I think people will accept a weird film if they know it's going to be a weird film.

You've developed a reputation for dark films, even earning the nickname Dark Marc...

Yeah, that's Tommy Flanagan [actor and friend] who called me that! I suppose what it isweird though it may soundyou don't choose your films in a strategic or career-minded way. You just find stories that interest you and some get made and some don't. So there is this haphazard element to it. The other thing is, I'm not really interested in making naturalistic films. And if you're not doing slice-of-life type movies, you've got to look at areas where you can play around a bit. The thing about a horror film or a psychological thriller is that it's expected to be original and odd in the way that you deal with the storytelling. Like with My Little Eye, the idea of telling a story with webcams was as interesting to me as the story itself.

What was it about this story that got your creative juices flowing?

I was very interested in the fact that it's actually about Colin Firth's character. He is in every scene so it's about his world and what's underlying his world, it's a very subjective type of film. It's not true to say it's totally from his point of view, but the world we're presenting is the world as he sees it. I had just done a film where it was all about an objective point of viewMy Little Eye was about being a voyeurand this was a chance to do something very different, seeing the world through the eyes of someone who's falling apart mentally.

As far as the story is concerned, I was interested in the kind of character that you might sit opposite on the Tube in Londonwhere you see something in his eyes that disturbs you but you can always get off at the next stop. It seems to me that London is such a big, dirty city in that respectfull of these people who live in bedsits or flats, who would probably be OK if they lived in a more caring environment.

Do you have to be an outsider to pick up on that London vibe?

I don't know, maybe. But coming from the outside also made London a very exciting place to be, so it's not that I'm down on London particularly. I think it's just about getting older, when you're not only seeing that optimistic side of the citywhere it's all about the thrill of the hurly burlybut also that downside where someone like Ben (Colin Firth) can slip through the cracks. I know it's a very melancholic sort of theme but it's an interesting thing for me to elevate that character and make him the heroor anti-heroof his world.

This is a very different role from the suave characters that we've come to associate with Colin Firth. Why did you cast him?

The thing with Colin was that I did a television job with him about ten years ago now, one of those bog- standard Ruth Rendell things, and they call her stuff "why dunnit" rather than "whodunit" because it's very psychological and full of dark characters. I remembered how good he was in that and, because he's in every scene, I needed someone who's sympathetic enough that the audience wouldn't mind spending so much time with himand Colin is that actor. He's got an integrity but also a mystery about him.

Actually we had a conversation and Colin said, "Isn't it interesting how people never make films about a man in a suit anymore?", like the Hitchcock films with someone in his 40s or 50s thrown into a deadly situation. In a way that slightly older Everyman, as opposed to the 20-year-old hero, is something we don't do much in Britain anymore. So in a way, although Ben isn't really that ordinary man, we thought it would be a chance to do that film.

Wasn't the part originally written for someone younger?

Yes, but only because the writer [Richard Smith] is only about 24 so he's inclined to write about someone who's his own age. That would have worked in one way, but there's something more melancholy about someone who's a bit older, I think, because he's had bit of rough and tumble in his life, you know? That litany of wrong turns is the tragedy of the common man.

You've also cast Mena Suvari in a role that's very different to everything else she's done...

Yeah, it is an interesting choice. But I think Charlotte had to be angelic and have a lightness about her for us to be able to fall into Ben's idea that possibly she might be an entity. And she's just incandescent, she's one of those actors who does very little but brings a lot. It's like she has this ethereal otherness. She's got that down.

What do you hope that people ultimately take away from watching this film?

I'm hoping that they enjoy its ambiguities rather than get frustrated by them. I think this is the type of film that will lead to a really interesting and heated conversation in the pub afterwards. Genre films are really good when they can do thatif you can have an argument with your mate about it afterwards, that's getting value for money!

Sundance Updates: Jan 23, 2004

In the Telegraph, David Gritten noted the "fragmented style demanding close attention..." and concluded that "Evans's film is bracing and original, though some in the Sundance audience found it hard to fathom." 

Dave Calhoun of The Times wrote:

The only British film with a world premiere at Sundance is Trauma, the Welsh director Marc Evans’s first film since his claustrophobic horror debut My Little Eye. It’s also the scriptwriting debut of a 25-year-old Scot, Richard Smith. Colin Firth sheds his usual safe cocoon to play Ben, a man wrestling with mental illness in a distinctly unfriendly vision of London.

Trauma is a mind game of a movie. It’s troubling, intense and puzzling, all of which are bolstered by the visual sense of Evans and his cinematographer John Mathieson, who allow Ben’s fragility to seep into the very core of the film through oppressive camerawork.

While Kevin Williamson of the Calgary Sun interviewed Mena Suvari, who said “I couldn’t have lucked out any better working with Colin. He was so passionate about the project and so eager to give his insight into what he wanted. But in the same breath, he’d ask me what I wanted and if I was OK with things. I really appreciated it. It’s something I’ve never really had before.”

From the BBC reporter's meeting with Menu Suvari and director Mark Evans, not much new. Mainly described the meeting and asked for confirmation of information in article ("Dark Mark") below. A few excerpts:

She was predictably effusive about working with Firth, and approving of the laidback mode of British filmmaking—"very calm, very relaxed," she told me—apparently a big departure from Hollywood and its time-is-money ethos. But when I asked whether Trauma had appealed to some previously unseen "darker side", she turned coy, shrugging her shoulders and giving me the cutesy flim-flam: "Who me? Really? I dunno..."

With the London-based Trauma, he says he wanted to explore the psyche of those people who "sit on the tube" and "live in bedsits". It was also moulded by a long conversation he had with Colin Firth about revisiting the "man in the suit" genre, the kind of Hitchcock thriller that got "beneath the skin and scratched around" (see Vertigo).... "It's definitely not a summer movie," Marc told me with a wry smile.

Read Stella Papamichael's full account here. Also an AICN contributor gave Traume 2-1/2 stars; read the account here.

Dark Mark

If Marc Evans was told that he had to make a film in Wales every year on a small-to-medium budget, he would be perfectly happy. No dreams of Hollywood or working in America, just an idealised view of an old socialist-style working film system....

Braving the torrential rain of a miserable Cardiff Sunday, the tall, 44-year-old director patiently has his photographs taken before we settle down for a coffee. He is a bit delicate after drinking lots of grappa with his family the night before. So with last night's stubble, slight greying at the temples and a thick parka coat bulking him up, Evans looks a little imposing.

His nickname is Dark Marc, due to his propensity to make frightening films, but once he opens his mouth he is friendly and amenable. Once you start him on topics such as his work, or his other love—music—he is off. And he can talk and talk.

He is getting ready to take his new film, Trauma to the Sundance Festival, hosted by Robert Redford. The last time he was there, in 1997, he took his first film, House of America, and, while he might just want to watch instead of promote Trauma, if the trade press falls in love with it, it will surely spell success....

Trauma, starring Colin Firth and Mena Suvari, tells the tale of a man waking from a coma to find he has lost his wife in a car crash. Plunging into grief, he experiences a kind of mental illness and struggles to cope while the rest of the world is coming to terms with its own loss—a young, adulated pop star who people never knew personally.

In the programme for the Sundance Festival, a note has been added about Trauma which lumps the film into a category called "post 9/11 films". Evans hadn't thought about his film in that way. "Really, the film is about an ordinary man in extraordinary situations. "The rest of the world is dealing with the grief of this person they do not know and he is trying to cope with this personal death."

Firth was easy to get on board and a pleasure for Evans to work with. "Colin was quite anxious to shed the Darcy role, and shirt, so he was up for it. What actor does not want to be in every scene of a film?"

But Firth was never meant to be in the film—it was written for a younger man. However, Evans immediately thought of him when he read the script. "I worked with Colin on Ruth Rendell's Master of the Moor and I have always known he has a dark side. We sort of became friends and he was bemoaning the fact that people do not do the 'man in a suit' film anymore. So when I read the script I thought of him, as he was looking for the darker material. He said yes straight away."

With Firth on board the film instantly had more selling power but American actress Mena Suvari was brought in initially to get more funding. Evans is candid about what is needed to get a movie shot and out in the cinemas and does not gloss over the film process. "We needed Mena for the money and originally I did not know that much about her. She looks like an angel. She is the American Beauty. But she is dark as hell. She was reading a book on the Yorkshire Ripper and she had been to visit a pathology museum. That interested me, she looks like an angel but was darker." Evans screened My Little Eye for Suvari and her husband, cinematographer Robert Brinkmann, to give them an insight into his work, before the 24-year old actress signed up. The L'Oreal model is quite picky with her roles, so it was another coup for Evans to have her on board. "That made me respect her, she did this because she wanted to. She was delightful to work with."

Moving from a group of unknown actors in My Little Eye to the famous faces in Trauma was easy for Evans, because the cast were down to earth. "I was never nervous with the people I worked with. Colin was a dream. In his view some of the romantic comedies he felt miserable on, but in this film he was covered in ants and he had a laugh."

The film was also a joy to work on for Evans because he got to work with Oscar-winning Gladiator cameraman, John Mathieson. Here he goes off into great detail about lenses and the different technical shots, before apologising for being "geeky".

Amicable and eager to tell stories about Firth, Evans recalls what the Bridget Jones actor told him about filming Conspiracy, the drama about how senior Nazis met to decide on the Final Solution, the murder of up to six million Jews. Firth and the rest of the cast apparently spent their spare time camping it up in Nazi uniforms as the only way they could cope with the heavy subject matter.

Evans is a passionate film director, not in it for the fame or money. Although he can play the game to get a film made. "Directing is like being given a train set and the chance to play with it.

"As I have got older I have realised that it is quite hard to get films made, so it is a precious opportunity."

Ever since he decided to be a director he has striven to make the kind of films which he would like to see in the cinema. Whether this means it is a niche market for those people who enjoy an uneasy cinematic ride, he does not seem to care. The Cardiff-born director has clear ideas about what cinema is, and what it should do.

"I go to have an outer body experience, for it to take me somewhere I have never been before—I don't want a film to be normal or see something I already know—those are the films I aspire to make." Wanting a film to make him feel uncomfortable, it is unsurprising that he loves Hitchcock and has a soft spot for David Lynch....

"When I was younger, I liked films that made me empathise with something horrible. But as you get older cinema pushes you less and less, but there is a certain point in that film where you go, 'Oh my god'....

But, either by default or his own doing, it seems that A Marc Evans Film will always be dark. "Someone said my films always end with a death or someone walking away—that's true."

Firth on Evans

Bridget Jones star Colin Firth relished the chance to appear in a darker film, but it was working with the Welsh director that made the process worthwhile.

Firth said, "Marc and I worked together on the Ruth Rendell TV movie Master of the Moor and I thought he was brilliant. So I wanted to join him again but our numerous attempts never quite panned out.

"Then Trauma came out of leftfield and intrigued me enough to sign on to what was clearly going to be an interesting journey. My main motivation for doing anything these days is to work with people I have always wanted to collaborate with and this seemed the perfect opportunity for us." (Western Mail, 1/17/04, by Claire Hill)

Pre-Sundance Q&A with Marc Evans

Q. When you were shooting the film, did you have Sundance in mind?
Since Sundance took my first feature I have always felt warmly towards it and it certainly has a certain indie credibility, which I like. To be honest though I didn't really think about festivals while shooting.

Q. How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
The script came to me from Lizzie Francke's new horror outfit "Ministry Of Fear"—a new initiative to make genre films, set up by Little Bird in London. I had just made "My Little Eye", a digital horror film so I guess the timing was fortuitous. The script, the first by young Scottish writer Richard Smith, was in pretty good shape. Then we worked on it together some more and the film came together pretty quickly after that. It seemed to be a good time for genre in the UK, though this is not really a horror. More psychological.

Q. What¹s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
The importance of casting.

Q. When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
"Don't look now"/ "Dark Water"/"Three Colours Blue"—three great films about grief.

Q. Two parter—which actor would you cut off an arm to work with, and which relatively unknown actor on your own film do you want the world to start recognizing sooner rather than later?
Well, really, Colin Firth (in Trauma) is up there. He is seriously good. As for unknowns, Trauma does not apply being a fairly small, distinguished cast. However Alison David who sings in the film (taking on the persona of murdered pop star Lauren Parris) deserves wider recognition.  (efilmcritic, 1/9/04, by Chris Parry)

On Location: London

What if you woke up from a coma following a car accident that killed your wife and found the country mourning for a celebrity, like, say, Princess Diana, or a pop star? How would your grief measure up to the grief of a nation? Thus begins Trauma, a psychological thriller in which a widower (Colin Firth) starts seeing his dead wife around his creepy new apartment; meanwhile, his ethereal neighbor (Mena Suvari) begins introducing him to the spirit world.

"You don't know if she's real or not." Suvari says of her character.

"It's about someone whose grief leads him to a kind of madness," says director Marc Evans (My Little Eye) , on location at London's run-down St. Pancras Chambers, perhaps best known as the point of departure for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

"It reminded me a little bit of paranoia films I liked in the '70s, some of the Polanski films and Don't Look Now" Firth says. "It's unashamedly trying to mess with your mind." (Premiere, Nov 2003)

Firth returns to his roots

Firth revealed, "Trauma may seem a departure from what I'm now known for but I was appearing in quirky features like Tumbledown about the horrors of war, and Apartment Zero about the human psyche's dark side way before I took on Darcy. Ben is the sort of role that was my territory in the early days. Marc and I worked together on the Ruth Rendell TV movie Master of the Moor and I thought he was brilliant. So I wanted to join him again but our numerous attempts never quite panned out. Then Trauma came out of leftfield and intrigued me enough to sign on to what was clearly going to be an interesting journey. My main motivation for doing anything these days is to work with people I have always wanted to collaborate with and this seemed the perfect opportunity for us. It's a hard film to discuss because not only is the entire film told from a subjective point of view, meaning I'm in every scene except for the final shock revelation, we must also strike a balance between being overly obtuse and cryptic to being boringly prosaic and explanatory. We don't want to frustrate the audience by being too baffling about what's really going on but we still have to retain the necessary air of mystery.

Marc is not s shy of the generic aspects of Trauma and his main inspirations come from Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red, White and Blue, Nic Roeg's Don't Look Now and Roman Polanski's Repulsion and The Tenant. That gives you a rough idea of the twisted psychological zone we're in. Trauma's horror is organic and even scarier than usual because it's based around the door to the subconscious mind that should be shut but has suddenly become slightly ajar with terrifying ramifications."

(read full article by Alan Jones for Film Review here)

Mr Darcy lets us see his dark side 

Colin Firth leads me through the basement room. ‘The blood on there looks real, doesn’t it?’ he says, pointing to the doors of what appears to be a body freezer in a morgue. ‘We’re in a morgue?’ I ask. ‘It’s a morgue…but it’s not really’. In fact it’s a carefully cobwebbed, bloodsplattered set for his new film—a very different affair from his romantic lead role as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

He stars with Mena Suvari (American Beauty and American Pie 2) in Trauma, a psychological chiller, which Marc Evans is directing for the aptly named Ministry of Fear film company. On this day, however, they’re shooting in the bowels of the old Midland Hotel by St Pancras station, London. Some of the cast and crew believe it’s haunted.

The wife of Colin’s character, Ben, has been killed in a car crash: ‘My apartment is an old ward in an old hospital and this is supposed to be the morgue.’ Although I know it’s only a movie, the place gives me the creeps. Colin tells me I should have been around the previous day when he had to handle a live tarantula—‘not something you do every day at the office’.

As Colin puts it, his character ‘is deeply traumatised and he has a problem recalling what his reality was before the car accident, so we see the world through his very confused eyes. ‘He lives alone in this flat and his world is very unsettling.’ Colin thinks a little bit of fear is good for us. ‘If you spend your life wanting to keep everything light, you might end of a little bit twisted. I’d be suspicious of someone who is only ever laughing.’ Mena plays a neighbour, who tries to help him. After all this darkness, Colin gets a bit of light relief with Renee Zellweger on the Bridget Jones sequel. Later in the year his films Girl With a Pearl Earring and Love Actually go on release. (Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail, 6/27/03)

Casting Call

Tommy Flanagan ("Gladiator") has joined the cast of the U.K. production "Trauma" for director Marc Evans. Flanagan will play the owner of a painting business that Colin Firth's character comes to work for. (THR, 6/19/03)

Colin Firth filming in Lower Marsh

Colin Firth has been filming in Lower Marsh with market traders  hired as extras. The star has been making Trauma, a Warner film due for release late next year, which tells the story of a man who struggles to overcome the death of his partner.

The Waterloo market was transformed for the three days of filming with extra stalls on both sides of the street and shops restocked for filming. The film company has paid £4000 to the traders to fund promoting the market which has recently suffered a loss in customer numbers following further office closures. Lower Marsh has also been promised a mention in the credits. (london-se1.co.uk, 5/230/03)

[On location gallery here]

Filming of Trauma ends (on Isle of Man)

Its the last day of shooting for the film "Trauma" on the Island which means heart-throb Colin Firth will be packing his bags and leaving. His role is a testing one, that of a man whose wife has been killed in a car accident, trying to come to terms with the emotional backlash. Director, Marc Evans, says Colin has the stamina as well as the ability to carry it off. (Manx Radio news 5/22/03)

The Scot Who Makes Stars' Skin Crawl

Meet the man who has a licence to hurl creepy crawlies at Colin Firth and Mena Suvari. Andrew Stephenson is an animal wrangler, who hunts down exotic and often grisly creatures for film crews. His latest project is in the Isle of Man on the set of Trauma, where he has the unique job of spraying the former Mr D'Arcy and the American Beauty actress with ants.

Andrew...said: "Colin Firth had to have about 50 ants on his arms, chest and legs for around two hours while they filmed. He was amazingly stoical about it, especially as the ants kept running off him, so we had to keep rounding them up and putting them back."

Andrew used special sprays to make sure they didn't run up her nose or into her ears, and she remained remarkably calm. "I explained to all the actors beforehand that the ants would not harm them and that I could round them up at any time," said Andrew....

But for now, Andrew has to head back to the Isle of Man to solve Colin Firth's problem of ants in his pants. (Daily Record 5/20/03 by Cath Bennett)

(2 May 2003)

Little Bird is delighted to announce that psychological chiller “TRAUMA” has started shooting this week.  Directed by Marc Evans, from an original script by talented newcomer Richard Smith, “TRAUMA” stars Colin Firth and Mena Suvari. 

“TRAUMA” also stars Tommy Flanagan (“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”, “Gladiator”, “Braveheart”) and Naomie Harris (“28 Days Later”). 

“TRAUMA” is a Little Bird production from its new “Ministry of Fear” label for First Choice Films.  The producers are Nicky Kentish Barnes (“About A Boy”) and Jonathan Cavendish (“Bridget Jones’s Diary”).  The director of photography is Academy-Award® nominee John Mathieson (“Gladiator”), the production designer is Crispian Sallis (“My Little Eye”), the costume designer is Ffion Elinor (“Lucky Break”), the make-up and hair designer is Pamela Haddock (“The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby”).  The executive producers are James Mitchell and Lizzie Francke.

“TRAUMA”, co-financed by BBC Films, Warner Bros Pictures, and Isle of Man Film Commission, will shoot for eight weeks in the Isle of Man and on location in London.  Warner Bros Pictures will distribute in the UK and Myriad Pictures will handle international sales.

Top Hollywood star comes to Island

One of Hollywood's hottest young actresses is teaming up with one of Britain's favourite actors for a film to be shot in the Island at the end of the month. Mena Suvari, star of the Oscar-winning American Beauty, will be here filming the psychological drama, Trauma, alongside Colin Firth, [who] is hot off Bridget Jones' Diary and it will be his second visit to the Island after he appeared in Relative Values opposite Julie Andrews....

Trauma reaches Manx shores six days later [April 28]...making it an important month for the Isle of Man Film Commission....the 48th project shot in the Island since the Brylcreem Boys started the ball rolling in 1995. It's being made by Little Bird, one of the production companies behind both Bridget Jones and Churchill [and] will shoot at the new film studio in Lezayre... (Isle of Man Examiner 4/16/03)

Scot Strikes Gold with Movie Deal

A Scots writer's first screenplay is to be made into a movie blockbuster starring Pride and Prejudice hunk Colin Firth.

Richard Smith hit gold with Trauma, a psychological chiller about a man who awakes from a coma to find his wife dead and his life in ruins. The 25-year-old's writing career started at university when he co-wrote and starred in a comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1999. He has also written for TV and won a Scottish Bafta for his short film Leonard.

Richard, of Dumbarton, said: "It's a bit like a dream."

Filming starts at the end of this month. American Pie star Mena Suvari will star alongside Firth. (Daily Record, 4/10/03)

Fear grips Firth, Suvari for 'Trauma'

Colin Firth and Mena Suvari have signed to star in "Trauma," a psychological chiller directed by Marc Evans, which will be the first pic made under the Ministry of Fear banner at Little Bird Films. The pic starts shooting at the end of April in London and the Isle of Man.

Myriad Pictures is handling worldwide sales, with Warner Bros. taking U.K. theatrical and video rights. Pic is being co-financed by BBC Films, the Isle of Man Film Commission and First Choice, the new tax fund from Grosvenor Park.

The original screenplay by first-time Scottish writer Richard Smith is about a man who wakes from a coma after a car crash to find that his wife apparently died in the same accident. As he tries to rebuild his life, he is haunted by images of his dead wife and his grip on reality starts to loosen.

Firth plays the bereaved man, with Suvari as his new-age neighbor who encourages him to contact his wife through a medium, with shocking consequences.

Director Evans previously had a modest hit with another horror movie, "My Little Eye."

"Trauma" is being produced by Nicky Kentish-Barnes, whose credits include "About a Boy" and "An Ideal Husband," and Little Bird's Jonathan Cavendish.

Anglo-Irish production outfit Little Bird set up its Ministry of Fear label 18 months ago, under former Edinburgh Film Festival director Lizzie Franke, to develop horror movies with a psychological twist. The label has development funding from the Film Council. (Variety, 4/9/03, by Adam Dawtrey)


Please do not upload any images to your
own website, club, group or community's photo album. Thank you.

Custom graphics by Emma


Click on boots to contact me