The long awaited docudrama “Tulpa” tells the true story behind the now legendary Highgate ‘vampire’ case, which gripped north London with fear in the early 1970s.
The premier of the film was shown in Central London, at the King and Queen pub and attracted a dedicated audience. It was screened by ‘Spooky London’, a meet up group convened by David Saunderson of ‘Spooky Isles’ fame, and as you can see from the comments on their website Tulpa had a very good reception. Talented photographer and paranormal enthusiast Lorcan Maguire was also on hand to take some fantastic stills, as the film’s producers introduced their work and took questions and feedback from the audience.
Made and produced over a five-year period by Max and Bart Sycamore, it traces the life of David Farrant, the man synonymous with the case, “Tulpa” explores the man who, in his own words, ‘became a kind of story which people could read in bed on a Sunday morning’.
“Tulpa” is the culmination of several years of painstaking research, multiple interviews (including ones with authors who have written extensively on the Highgate case, Patsy Langley and Gareth J. Medway) and those that have witnesses the entity, and not to mention a few setbacks, including a chilling encounter with Jean Pateman, then Chairman of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery. Now, for the first time, the eight part series has been brought together, capturing the zeitgeist of 1960s and 1970s London, and reveals the man behind the myth.
Fans of Highgate will be aware of Audrey Niffenegger’s 2009 novel “Her Fearful Symmetry”, which tells the supernatural experiences and revelations of two identical female twins, who inherit a flat overlooking north London’s Highgate Cemetery. By a strange twist of fate, in 2009 identical twins Bart and Max Sycamore came across the story of the Highgate Vampire.
The Sycamore brothers are made up of two very individual halves. One, with many years experience in community-based filmmaking, has the skills needed to deliver personal stories to the mainstream. The other, a writer of screenplays and novels, has a mind for the weird and wonderful. Together, they are the ideal whole to take on the subject of the life of David Farrant and his feared and famed foe – the ‘Highgate Vampire’.
I was not able to attend the premier of the film myself on the night, but Gareth J. Medway – one of the stars of the film – was present and managed to participate in a Question and Answer session from the audience. The interest from the audience was intense, but I will pass you over to Gareth for the moment as he was present and so better able to convey the atmosphere of the occasion . . .
The first question asked was: “Why did it take five years?” There were various reasons, including their Nan dying soon after the original filming was completed, and a hard drive crashing at a crucial moment. It was pointed out that the sound track varied in volume, and Max admitted that in future he would try to employ a skilled sound engineer. As to how they first learnt of the affair, they read about it in a community magazine, whose editors warned them not to approach David Farrant, which they thought might somehow be dangerous. They went to interview him anyway, and found him to be a friendly, helpful person. Later, they showed a magazine of their own to Jean Pateman, who was, shall we say, not so helpful. For that reason, they have never actually been around the cemetery! Mrs. Pateman now resides permanently there herself. There is now a more broad-minded management. They concluded that they hoped to be able to do a longer version.
Max and Bart had to leave to go elsewhere, but there followed an informal discussion. One man asked if there had been any other paranormal activity reported in the Highgate area following David’s imprisonment, and I told them that there have been intermittent sightings of an entity ever since. There was a question regarding what the entity actually was, and I said that there are various possibilities: the spirit of a dead person, a psychic memory of a once living person, or a ‘tulpa’, which they had taken as the title of the film: this is not, as one man thought, an Egyptian word, but Tibetan, meaning a thought-form created by people’s minds.
So, on February 15th 2014, after several years of research, “Tulpa” in its completed form, was finally presented to an anticipating audience. Its next scheduled stop is for a Film Festival later this year.
We can only eagerly watch its progress!
For anyone who was not able to attend the screening of the full length film, you can watch an earlier edit in 8 serialised parts here:
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