Interview with Mark Tonderai, Director of the Spellbinding Thriller ‘Spell’

Director Mark Tonderai has made quite the career for himself. His new spellbinding thriller, Spell (check out my review – HERE), released today from Paramount Pictures and is the perfect film to check out this Halloween. Learn about Mark’s career, what this film is about, the great actors involved, and more!

Synopsis for Spell

A man crash lands in rural Appalachia and awakens in the attic of a traditional Hoodoo practitioner. He desperately tries to break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.


PopHorror – Hi Mark. I’m a fan of your work! Thanks for speaking with me. How did you get involved in filmmaking?

Mark Tonderai – I got lucky I joined the BBC and I went into radio then graduated from there into TV and then into films. I’m mainly a writer – I’ve been writing since I was about 8. I’ve been doing it a long time!

PopHorror – That’s awesome. You’ve dabbled in both TV and Movies. Do you prefer one over the other?

Mark Tonderai – I love them both but film nudges slightly ahead, as it’s something that I have more creative control over.

PopHorror – You’ve done a decent amount projects that involve the horror/thriller genre. Do you enjoy this genre?

Mark Tonderai – I just love stories it just so happens these sorts of movies, because of their cost, are easier to get made. I love thrillers. Hitchcock. And I love the tension of suspense…

PopHorror – What was it like to work on Netflix’s Locke & Key and Hulu’s Castlerock?

Mark Tonderai – They’re great shows run by lovely people. Castle Rock was pretty interesting as I filmed a scene with Tim Robbins going back to Shawshank but not as Andy but Pop. Surreal for me!!!

PopHorror – That’s so cool! What inspired you to work on your new film the SPELL?

Mark Tonderai – Frankly, it’s very hard to book a film, especially one that has distribution. Now saying that, I had to reconcile that the film was written by a white person. So it was very important to myself, Omari and Loretta that we colonized the work, and made it ours. So we injected and extrapolated themes such as rural verses house, and the circular nature of violence. In particular one of the issues we wanted to explore is how, as black people we live in fight or flight mode, and how in order to survive we have to sometimes dip into rage. That is what the film is about.

PopHorror – Thanks for going into detail about what the film is about. SPELL has a great cast with phenomenal performances. How did the casting process come about?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Mark Tonderai – I always wanted to work with Omari, he is beyond amazing. Committed. Passionate. Focused. Everything you want in a leading man. As for Loretta, she is a national treasure! Just the most moving actress I’ve ever worked with! I love them both dearly!

PopHorror – That’s wonderful to hear! Any favorite scenes or scenes that you found challenging?

Mark Tonderai – I love the scene where Omari breaks down after he hears that his son has died. The crumble he shows is amazing.

PopHorror – I completely agree. It was heartbreaking. What was your favorite part about working on this film?

Mark Tonderai – Working with the actors and the post team led by Stephanie ITO, Jordan Ballard, Ashley Brucks and of course my boss WYCK Godfrey. My editing team of Sarah Reeves and TOMMY Bernard and lastly my wonderful composer Ben Onono. All wonderful people who helped me so much.

PopHorror – Any upcoming projects that you’d like to talk about?

Mark Tonderai – I wish I could mention them but I can’t but they are awesome!

PopHorror – Thanks again, Mark, for talking with me. SPELL is now available to watch on Digital platforms. Check it out!

About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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