Director Kristoffer Nyholm certainly has the right credentials to head up spooky, upcoming drama The Enfield Haunting having previously been at the helm of original Danish version of The Killing.

When you took on the project, were you aware of the Enfield poltergeist?

I Iive in Copenhagen. I don’t think the story hit my town in the same way it hit London and the UK. They say the Enfield case had some influence on Poltergeist the film, so from that I was secretly drawn to this mystery.

Where did you get the inspiration for the look and tone of the show?

My first thought was, looking back, that the 1970s was a tough period. You could look at it as if people were under a certain pressure at the time, especially the Hodgson family. I decided it was important to have them there without being victims: meeting them at eye-level coming into their house and not making it a dark place or into a predictable mystery. The nice thing is, things happen in our lives when we don’t expect them to happen. It would be very easy to frame the family in ‘genre’ terms. So from the start I wanted them to be happy, a typical family with lots of colour. They are living their lives in the 70s and when you live through a tough period you don’t necessarily think, ‘oh it’s tough’. I wanted to go in there, film the colours and light of the time. I compare it to the Great Barrier Reef. You dive down there and it’s a beautiful world when the sunlight shines. But at the same time there are places the light doesn’t get to and there is darkness and shadow. I used this principle while filming. We used one light source in order to cast shadow, hidden darkness and areas you can’t see. Have it bright, let the sun in, but have a clear idea about the darkness and how it figures.

The Enfield case is heavily documented. Did you refer to the real case material?

Not directly, but in some ways there were inspirations. We didn’t try to copy it but we tried to be honest in a certain way as to not make it something totally different. We simplified the interiors of the sets. We didn’t want to make them look like a museum. We went with items from the 70s but without going over-the-top. The still pictures from the case reminded us that some of the strongest emotions can come from something that is not moving. A still picture can be a dramatic thing. Something happened before and after the picture and you are looking at a captured moment. This principle had an influence on the way we filmed. We didn’t move the camera a lot. We tried to keep it in a fixed spot and wait for things to develop.

Can you talk us through some of the special effects used in the drama?

We wanted to keep things simple. Anything is possible these days and effects can look very realistic but at the same time they can make things harder to believe. So we wanted things to move in in organic way. If a cupboard was going to move we would have a man moving it. When the teapot moves, we had a puppeteer flying it into the air before crashing it down. These are effects you could easily create with a computer but doing them in a simple way adds something more human.

How did you create the scene in which the curtain attacks Janet?

That scene was played backwards. The curtain was lowered, tied around Eleanor, who plays Janet, and then pulled off her. By playing it backwards you create the illusion of a curtain coming down and attacking her in a very organic way. It’s an example of how we tried to do the effects: simple, organic, but hopefully scary.

Have you made the drama scary? Is that important?

We tried to go with the deepest emotions of the characters. These are people you get involved with so when things that are unpredictable, bad and scary happen, you experience them too. You are thrown into the darkness. The key was to make a story with a human interest. If you are not part of these people’s lives you won’t care about them when things go wrong. It’s a beautiful script that allows this to happen. It was the main reason I said yes to the story.

Have you worked with anyone who was involved in the original case?

I have met Guy Lyon Playfair, who is the real Guy who wrote a book about the happenings. The book is scientific. He talks about it in a very straightforward way with no mystery. It’s about what he experienced. He was very relaxed and pleasant about this project.

Has anything supernatural ever happened to you?

Not to my knowledge. A lot of things happen but perhaps I have been too naïve or ignorant. I have not experienced anything like this, though [The Enfield Haunting]. You have to be open to it. The poltergeist reacts to your emotional behaviour so some people are more exposed than others. I don’t think I am that exposed… but maybe I am wrong.

The three-part drama The Enfield Haunting will air on Sky from May 3.

Watch the trailer below.