So for a while now, myself (Kelvin, Director) and Holly (Producer) have been desperately trying to find time to get ourselves back into what we love the most, filmmaking.
So the other day we forced ourselves to sit down and talk through ideas of how we could make something a reality. As per usual I was throwing stupidly farfetched ideas into the mix (projects which would basically require too much money!) so Holly used her incredibly subtle powers of persuasion to pull the reigns in a little bit and re-evaluated the situation – and this is something I would very much suggest to anyone else out there who is wanting to create a film on a budget.
She made us look at simple issues like “what do we already have to our disposal? Who de we already know that we could use? What realistically is our budget?” and from these few questions pretty much came the production basis of our film to play with: We have a house – location sorted! We knew our budget and time wasn’t going to allow us to stretch very far so we knew the house would need to be our only location and thought if the film could put its main focus on a character driven plot, then this would allow us to develop an interesting character and let the actor really delve into their role. Now we work with multiple actors but had one specifically in mind who we knew would be up for trying something different, and upon asking Thea Knight she didn’t let us down, so – cast sorted! We then thought of crew, we have an absolutely incredible bunch of people that we would usually work with on something like this, however we decided to keep it as just myself on camera/directing and Holly on sound/producing to keep numbers down and to just keep the project nice and simple.
So there we had it. The blueprint of our film, it would be entirely set within our home and focus on a single character which would allow the story to develop through them. As a director the thought of having something so simple to work with entices me as a positive challenge to make something exciting for an audience to watch from pretty much ‘nothing’. I am a huge fan of directors such as Hitchcock who had this ability to take something as simple as a mere motel room and create one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. Im not saying we are recreating a masterpiece like Psycho, but you get the point!
So after a few twists, turns and finessing a story and issue to work with, we were very happy with our premise and began to write the script. Yet as we began to write, it hit us that we didn’t want to make the film like this. With such an intimate and somewhat claustrophobic idea of having a single location with a single actor it felt like we needed to do things differently, so instead we simply wrote the story in a somewhat ‘production’ fashion which was more a description of events as opposed to being a script. I wanted the actor to be free to delve into this character and have as few restrictions as possible, many of which come with having a script to stick to. So I’ve taken a few ideas from ‘Blue Valentine’ Director Derek Cianfrance who got his two leading actors to actually rent a home together for a period of time to ensure their characters really felt ‘real’ when it came to filming the intense marriage scenes. Of course, we’re not planning on doing anything as drastic as this! But I truly believe to get the best from an actor, you need to let them do what they do – act! And by giving them as much freedom as possible will ensure the best acting will come through, and as I said before, with such an intimate idea we needed to ensure the actor had pretty much free reign to do what they wanted to achieve this.
Now I’m no Gordon Willis and with the decision being made to keep crew small, the thought of how I shoot this was our final thought. I’ve decided to take inspiration from the cinematic styles of Malick, Mann and again Cianfrance who seem to be able to create dramatic tension through the use of handheld camera movements and really capture these intimate character moments by keeping shots free moving and also shooting with natural/available light – much alike a ‘docu-style’ production to make it feel as ‘real’ as possible.
So that is pretty much the ‘ethos’ of the film in a nutshell, I don’t want to reveal too much of the story just yet and to be honest it would be hard to actually define the story of the film since we are allowing it to be so organic and natural in its production process. So as a final conclusion if you will, what we are trying to do is experiment with the visual language of film and create something that will thrill audiences by keeping everything claustrophobic with the single location/actor and make the film feel as natural as possible with our method of allowing the actor freedom to develop their own role.