FrightFest Glasgow interview with Tiago Teixeira writer and director of Custom

A chat with the creator of this superbly surreal piece of cinema

James Whittington
March 10, 2024

NYX: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

TT: I have been interested in storytelling from an early age and was always very visual. Filmmaking felt like a natural path. It took me a long time to have the means to try my hand at it because it’s an expensive form of art. I had to wait until the emergence of affordable digital film equipment to start working with it because I never had much of a network of friends with spare money to bank me up.

NYX: Where did the idea for Custom come from?

TT: Custom was originally a short film idea that got stuck in my head. It started with a story about a couple that turned to sex work during the lockdowns and things got weirder from there. After the short film project won a pitch award at the Dark Arts Film Festival in 2022, I decided it had the potential to be something else. So, it evolved into a feature film. The main theme changed a bit, but the premise is still the same.

NYX: Did it take long to get the script exactly how you wanted it?

TT: A couple of months. I must thank all the poor souls who helped me with notes, including producer Andy Edwards and cinematographer Philipp Morozov. Once we had our cast, it began mutating again after I started discussing the characters with its actors. They all had fantastic feedback and some excellent ideas about their characters. This all adds up to the final script.

NYX: How did you go about casting the movie?

TT: It took us a while to find the right actors but in the end, we were fortunate with our choices. Abigail Hardingham heard about the project and wanted to learn more about it, and when we started chatting, we immediately found out we were on the same wavelength and they brought a lot of great ideas to the film. They ended up becoming an associate producer as well. They and Rowan are such gifted, fearless actors. Brad and Samantha, as well. Everyone was a joy to work with and brought so much to the table.

NYX: This is your first feature as director, were you nervous the first day on set and what lessons in directing did you learn?

TT: I had full confidence in my cast and crew, which helped me not worry too much. My worries were focused on independent film issues like scheduling and budget and stressing out about anything that might go wrong and impact the shoot. The shoot reinforced a lesson that I already knew: Choose your cast and crew as you choose your friends. Find people you like, and remember you'll have to have each other's back.

NYX: Did Abigail Hardingham and Rowan Polonski, who play the lead characters, have much time to rehearse as they have quite a few intimate scenes?

TT: Not as much as we would like because, with independent films, you have to work with what you get. We rehearsed every scene with Eden, our fantastic intimacy coordinator, and everyone was very prepared for the shoot. Every scene was planned carefully in advance. The budget and scheduling limitations were very stressful at times, but Abigail and Rowan are such amazing, committed actors, and the team was so prepared that it worked out great.

NYX: It feels like the result of a one-night stand with Clive Barker and David Cronenberg, would you agree?

TT: Definitely! Their influences are pretty clear in the film.

NYX: Will you be nervous when the movie has its world premiere at FrightFest Glasgow?

TT: I have no idea what people will think of this, so, yes, I’ll be very nervous.

NYX: So, what are you up to at the moment?

TT: I’m focusing on getting the next feature off the ground. Should be a fun one, and hopefully stranger than this one.

NYX: Tiago Teixeira, thank you very much.

TT: Thank you for the great interview!