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Interview with Deathcell creator, Steph Ricketts

We got in touch with Deathcell’s creator to learn more about the upcoming event!

When we saw the Kickstarter for Deathcell, we were instantly sold. The pitch of this show is exactly what we want to see from an event so we got in contact with the creator, Steph Ricketts, to glean some further details about what we can expect later in the year.

And they’re still seeking funding so if you like what you hear, you can donate here:

Deathcell Steph Ricketts

Steph Ricketts, R Space Founder and Deathcell creator

Without giving anything away, what is Deathcell?

There’s a lot of division in our country at the moment – Brexit being one of the biggest factors. It sometimes feels like we’re at war with each other and I wanted to capture this in an experience, where each other’s fate is down to a vote. So imagine if you could get revenge on anyone by simply nominating them via an online system. Whether that’s someone you know, or a stranger for something they did to you is up to you. For example, I’m currently sat in a coffee shop and I could nominate the person opposite me if I found out their name and I didn’t like something they did or said. The more times you get nominated, the higher the chance of being selected. So if you’re a royal jerk, then you’re more likely to find yourself in Deathcell; an underground prison where fellow inmates known as ‘players’ who battle each other to survive and earn credits. These credits can then be used to purchase more weapons, random objects or food to keep your survival. 

How did the idea come about?

I’ve always wanted to create my own prison-themed scare attraction. It’s a homage to the first ever scare acting job which was at Madame Tussauds London named Scream! One Way Out – I worked there for 5 years, so it has been a massive part of my life. From there, I let a few ideas run around my head late last year, and I began writing a story from the point of view of someone who gets sent to Deathcell. I had a few scenes in mind, and from there just pieced together a story. I find creating a strong backstory can help you make decisions in the production process – I can pretty much answer most questions people have about the story and why certain decisions and characters are there because I’ve covered those corners in my head. The team we have working on this are incredibly passionate, skilled and really imaginative too, so some ideas you’ll see in the production have come from them, not necessarily my original story. That’s why I love devising. There’s only so much you can cover alone before you feel stale. Everyone has a different perception of the world around them and can bring new things and experiences to the table to make this the best it can be. 

Have there been any shows/events (horror or otherwise) that’ve been influences on Deathcell?

I’m glad you asked that – I like to take influences from anything I see, sometimes you wouldn’t even link the two together. One of my favourite films is Fight Club. I love the way it’s shot, the content, the characters and how clever it is. I totally buy into it. There’s a whole backstory to Deathcell that was partly influenced by this film. I’ve worked in scare attractions for the past 8 years, so there’s always going to be elements that I take from some of them, if not the experience then from the production process for sure. The film REPO: The genetic opera is another influence, as well Punchdrunk Theatre and the Generation of Z which was a live immersive experience about a zombie apocalypse a few years back. I also listen to a lot of music so when I was writing the story and concept, I listened to a lot of film scores to get me in the mood. Some of these were Transformers, Mad Max, anything by Junkie XL and The Watchmen. I wanted to immersive myself in the world in my head first before throwing it out into the world. 

Promo shot

What do you hope people will feel going through Deathcell?

I want people to feel intimated by the environment that they find themselves in and at the mercy of Deathcell, it’s warden and the ‘flies.’ (The masked villains of Deathcell who upkeep its operation.) I want people to come out going “that’s messed up, but also I had a great time!”

It sounds like Deathcell has a lot of moving parts story-wise – what have been the challenges scripting a show like this?

The hardest thing has been creating something that people will want to come and see. I had to ask myself the following questions: what hasn’t been done in the scare industry? What is current at the moment? What will people find scary? It’s easier to write a theatre piece, and its easier to concept a scare attraction, but merging the two together? That’s hard. You’ve got to get a balance right, and that’s harder then it sounds, trust me! Some people may be interested in the backstory, others will just want to be scared. That’s going to be an ongoing challenge, even when we’re live to please the masses. We’re quite an honest group because we want the best for this, so it’s great when one of us questions something or finds a loophole that I didn’t originally see. This story can be developed though and I plan for Deathcell to only expand in the next few years.  

And lastly, what’s been your favourite scare experience?

I’ve already mentioned this one above but it has to be ‘Generation of Z.’ For those who are unfamiliar with it, it was an hour long immersive experience in London a few years back about a zombie apocalypse. I believe the show began in NZ and then went to Edinburgh before London in 2015. I loved how immersive it was, and yet at the same time totally terrifying. Working in scare attractions for 8 years has made me a bit immune to being truly scared, but this was the first show in a long time that had got my heart racing. I went with a group of friends (most of them are involved with Deathcell actually) and we got split at different points, all experiencing different storylines. At one point I was asked to distract a zombie so one of the main characters could run behind them and grab medical equipment that was crucial to the plot. Little did they know they had picked a scare actor! I loved the audience involvement, it really made you feel part of it and you can’t get anymore real than hearing the noises of zombies as you hide in a bunker! If R Space Productions can achieve the same sorts of reactions and audience enjoyment in Deathcell, then I’ll be happy!   

If anyone would like support and share the link to Deathcell, then it can be found on the following: Without making our goal, Deathcell won’t happen and the funds won’t leave anyone’s account until after the campaign has ended and only if we reach our goal of £5000. We appreciate all the help, support and donations for a project we’re really passionate about! 

Deathcell Behind the scenes 02

Behind the scenes shot of filming the teaser trailer. (Jimm Stark on camera and Mitchell Banks playing a ‘fly.’)

Thanks to Steph for giving us her time and if Deathcell sounds interesting to you, any pledge helps! We can’t wait to see this brought to life!

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