Hauntings and Hilarity: Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds on ‘The Parapod Movie’

It must come as some relief to Ian Boldsworth and Barry Dodds that The Parapod Movie is finally heading to streaming services this month on the 27th. It’s a project that has taken them almost half a decade to complete, taking their award-winning podcast on a road trip around these (possibly) haunted isles, funded by generous donations from their audience. The end result is a romp that is by turns hilarious and heartwarming.

Tom and Jo of Vampire Squid caught up with Barry and Ian to ask them about their experiences making the movie.

Tom: Barry, have you managed to do any more ghost-hunting during the pandemic?

Barry: I have! I’ve been doing bits and bobs. Some of them I could go to on my own and be fairly isolated and go and do it that way.

Tom: That’s great! In the movie, we get a lot of clips of different ghost hunts, and obviously you can’t include everything. Is there anything that you wish you could have included in the final cut?

Ian: I think there’s actually about two movie’s worth of deleted scenes, so there were lots of choices to be made along the way. There are some quite nice shots that didn’t get used. There’s one of me running across a huge expanse of green – I’m running into the darkness, way, way away, and it’s a really nice shot. But we didn’t use it because I felt like it signposted too much within the film and showed the direction I went in, so I decided to pull that out so that you don’t actually know where I’ve gone at that point in the movie. The difficulty is that we filmed so much in so many places, so unless you focus on just one of them, they’re all going to suffer in some way. For example, the ancient Ram Inn is in there, and that got really cut down. There was also a haunted school, which got pretty chopped down. There are huge swathes of material that didn’t get used, but I don’t think that I feel any regret with that. I don’t ever really think “Aw, I wish I could have put that in” – because I could have put it in, I’m allowed! But it was all sort of artistic choices and making the best possible end product. And deleted scenes pop up on Patreon and other places, anyway.

Barry: I do agree with Ian there. For example, a couple of days ago, I saw on Ian’s Patreon a little bit of footage that wasn’t as fresh in my memory as the rest of the film. I watched it and it really gave me chills, and it was amazing to watch. I thought it was really funny, but then if you put in everything that you found funny then the movie would be… too long!

Ian: Yeah, the whimsy has been chopped down, but there’s still plenty left in the film.

Jo: It’s great that you still have those clips that you can look back on. It looked like it was a lot of fun to film.

Ian: I think it probably looks more fun than it actually was!

Barry: I agree. I’d never made a film before, so it was a steep and fast learning curve. Obviously there were negatives to it, things that were stressful, but I try not to remember them, because the positives of doing it gave me opportunities that I would never have otherwise. Things like going into the Edinburgh vaults and not being part of a tour like anyone can go on, but having it to yourself.

Ian: Because you’re barred from there in real life!

[All laugh]

Ian: Because you snuck in with a film crew, you were fine, but in real life Barry’s barred from most of these places!

Barry: Normally you’d be with a group of people, but we had private access, and I was like “I’ve always wanted to do this”. I try to remember those moments, which were really special to me. I’m big on nostalgia.

Ian: Can I just add to that – whilst that’s lovely for Barry, in the Edinburgh vaults, a great deal of the day, the night and the wee hours of the morning was spent with me saying “Where’s Barry now?” The vaults are quite vast, and Barry was just off. Just wondering about the place everywhere.

Barry: I never went that far, because it was terrifying!

Ian: Again, you forget that we were filming all this. So I’ve got a lot of footage of you holding a video camera, exploring the vaults, just utterly terrified. You, on your own, walking around going [makes scared, breathy noises], for ages!

Tom: When we come to write this up, that’s just gonna be “brackets, scared Barry noises”.

Ian: Just put “Barry’s sex noises”.

[All laugh]

Tom: Barry, if there was a Parapod Movie sequel and you went international, where would you take Ian in an attempt to finally convince him?

Barry: It’s hard to say, to try and convince Ian, because he’s such a hard-wired sceptic. The way he’s looking at me now, like “Come on, boy, where would you take me?”

[Ian pulls a face]

Barry: I’ve got a couple on my list. One of them is probably Poveglia island, the island just off Italy, which has so many stories. It’s almost like the perfect recipe for a haunting – an old asylum, a mad doctor, a big plague, burials, and things like that… So yeah, I reckon that’s probably at the top of my list.

Tom: Ian, you’re not looking too convinced!

Ian: I’m pretty wary of going to Poveglia island – I think it’s an environmental hazard!

Tom: Fair enough! In the film, Ian, you pull a couple of pranks on Barry. Looking back on it now, is there anything you feel in any way guilty about or do you think it was all totally deserved?

Ian: Not really! The alternative was to film nothing for two hours.

Tom: In terms of the crew that went with you, were they believers or were they sceptics?

Jo: Yeah, did any of them get freaked out as well, having to film out there in the dark?

Ian: The ancient Ram Inn was a good case in point – do you remember, Barry?

Barry: Yeah, they actually got scared where we didn’t. I say “we”, but obviously Ian doesn’t get scared because he doesn’t believe in it.

Ian: [Pointing to himself, grinning and waving] Psychopath! Psychopath, hello!

Barry: But you can still feel that somewhere is creepy and makes you feel a little bit on edge though. The place where that happened to the crew is the place that it happened least to me and Ian. But there were reasons behind that, to do with the location. It was weird, though, that we were off wandering through the vaults, and I was absolutely terrified, and I didn’t find out until afterwards that everyone else was just totally nonplussed by it! But, you know, I think it’s what you bring to it.

Ian: There was an odd thing that has been all but cut from the film, as much as possible, anyway – I think there’s maybe one example of this still left in the film – where, for whatever reason, but let’s presume it was because of distractedness in terms of the location, the crew would talk or would answer back to things. There was one bit where a marble moved, and Barry was like “Where’s that come from?”. And the person on the camera goes “I don’t know”. And you watch that footage back and you go “Um, shush?”

[All laugh]

Ian: There were examples of that where you could assume that people were just not thinking and were getting quite caught up in the fear of where they were.

Jo: Yeah, it’s probably not a normal place to go for a camera gig!

Ian: Yeah, there were quite a few times where people kept piping up when they shouldn’t, and you don’t know why that actually is or why that’s happening.

Barry: I think you just get sort of swept along with it, you know. You get sort of, as Ian would say, “carried along with the fairy tour”, whereas I would say that everybody’s getting into the ghost-hunting side of it.

Ian: Counter to that, one of our camera people was called Carl, and he’s also a camera operator on sports events, like for the rugby, and for Sky and for the BBC. And in the 25 years that he’s been a camera operator – and I’ve seen some dramatic games on TV, with some dramatic finishes – I have never seen his camera suddenly start jumping up and down! Your job is to point a camera!

But I’m willing to accept that in that environment it’s very claustrophobic oftentimes! And often there’s also a lot of waiting and it can be very boring. When you see things in the movie, that’s chopped down to the “best bits”. You just want to show as much fun as you can. When you say it looks fun, those bits were fun, but that was surrounded by acres of stress. It’s a very unlikely project, this one. It’s very, very unlikely that this ever got finished, or even started, to be honest!

Tom: Yeah, it was a huge time-frame as well, wasn’t it? Didn’t it take about three years to put it together?

Barry: Yeah.

Ian: Yeah! It’s a stupid amount of time. And it was constant, as well. It doesn’t really have a production company. I had Simon, the editor – who’s an ace – but that was pretty much my one phone call I was allowed! I couldn’t exactly go “Oh, I’ll phone myself” if there was a real issue. I didn’t have departments, where you could go “Can you do that please, and can you do that please?” It was me, and then for the ultra-tech stuff, Simon. So yeah, it’s definitely taken years off my life! But they’ll just be the rubbish ones at the end.

Tom: We were speaking earlier about, whether or not you’re a believer or a sceptic or whatever, a lot of these environments play tricks on your brain and stuff. In the film, you express this idea that maybe something will follow you home. Since you’ve had a long time since production ended, have you had any experiences where you thought “Oh shit, this is a ghost that’s come for me”?

Jo: Yeah, did you feel haunted by it still?

Ian: I presume that’s a question for Barry!

Jo: Maybe!

Barry: I felt it once. And, thankfully, it stayed in the car. It was when I was driving back from somewhere, and I had somebody in the car with me, and I went “Do you feel that?” and they said yes. And it just felt like, I don’t know, maybe we weren’t alone. But generally I don’t want to bring anything home – I love it, but I don’t want to live with it!

Tom: Fair play!

Barry: …Like Ian.

[Ian laughs]

Tom: Yeah, it sounds like Ian’s very happy to leave everything behind him!

Ian: Well done, Barry, that was an exceptional sound bite. Excellent press – “I love it, but I don’t want to live with it. See you fuckers later”.

Jo: Have you got any future plans for The Parapod at all?

Ian: I’m personally not thinking beyond this film at the moment. It’s been a lot of time and a lot of energy. I feel pretty ghosted out, really! I’ve been writing a book in conjunction with it, and even with that, I think I’m going to have to get rid of quite a few chapters because I’m just angry!

[Ian laughs]

Ian: It’s not a closing of it as a complete idea or whatever. This word “sequel” keeps popping up, but I’d personally have to retire on it. Barry’ll do it for 10p though!

Tom: Fair enough, you could get another Kickstarter going! Thanks so much for catching up with us, and congratulations on the film.

We’d like to thank Barry Dodds and Ian Boldsworth for taking the time to talk to us! The Parapod Movie will be coming to VOD on the September 27th 2021. Tickets for live screenings are available here.


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