Film Critic Matt Taylor is enamoured with Annihilation, the second directorial effort from Alex Garland, and Netflix's latest exclusiveWritten by Redbrick Film on 20th March 2018
Black Site: An Intro to Filmmaking
TV Editor Matt Dawson and Film Critic Phoebe Christofi preview the indie flick Black Site and chat to the director Tom Paton about the production process
In a preview panel held at the recent Birmingham MCM Comic Con, Tom Paton, director of the upcoming sci-fi horror movie Black Site, took to the stage along with the film’s starring cast. Described by Paton as 'The Raid meets Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror, with a John Carpenter vibe to it', the team explained some of the behind-the-scenes processes in filming the Indie flick. When talking about the birth of the concept of the film, Paton elaborated that 'it came from an idea that I had a few years ago, which at the time was called Supernatural Max, and it would be set in a prison housing Lovecraftian monsters. It sort of evolved from there, becoming this government black site where they deport these creatures back to the dimension they come from, and the whole story built out from that point.'
“It tries to be the antithesis of cliché tent pole Hollywood blockbusters
The director further went on to say, 'to a degree, it is a feminist action film. It was very important to have female characters who could do their own stunts and perform in a way that felt tangible and real.' That in part led to the casting of Robinson-Galvin, a previous stuntwoman for Wonder Woman and Justice League who added 'it was one of the first roles I had coming from stunt work […] To have that license and support from the director, and also being able to do all my own stunts, and collaborate with the stunt team, that was such a unique experience.' She further went on to mention her experiences of familiarising herself with her character, Ker, 'this opportunity grabbed me because not only was the character just really dark, gritty and layered, it was so fun to play something so evil.' Few details have been revealed about the characters, but it seems a pretty safe bet that Robinson-Galvin will be a member of the Cult of Erebus, a sect hell-bent on releasing a demonic Old God.
“The lower budget films that feel greater than just the sum of their parts are pragmatic
The panel was bookended by the trailer, confirming that it would have a festival run in 2018, before a wider release in the same year.
On concluding the panel, director Tom Paton went on to have a casual interview in a much more intimate setting, where he told fans of the industry how to actually make a film:
'I made silly videos, but the funny thing about being a human being in 2017, is that if you’ve got a phone in your pocket, you are a film maker if you want to be. So, it doesn’t have to be silly videos anymore, you can go out there and you can make actual productions.'
'I thought, "the equipment is there, the ability to edit is there, more importantly the ability to find an audience is there, I just need to figure out who the hell is going to buy my stuff from me". So, I very quickly found nightclub videos and started filming live events, and I started finding out, okay, who are the DJ’s that are going to be big and I’ll go in and speak to them now. You’ve got to be very forward thinking, you’ve got to be very active about how you approach this kind of thing. You know, I met little guys like Calvin Harris and was like, "hey dude, why don’t I make a video for you for three hundred quid", and he was like, "yeah, I’ve got no money", so we’d do that! So, you try to be savvy about who you work with and who you talk to. I’m always learning on the job, I’m constantly saying, "somebodies booked me for a green screen in a music video, I don’t even know what a green screen is, that’s fine, because there’s this thing called YouTube", and every single lesson you need to learn about film making is on there - you just have to be willing to spend the time to teach yourself.'
“Sound is the one key area that you should approach from the beginning
“Theme is the most important thing, not just for your main character, but for every single thing in your script
'If you ever find yourself directing, every morning, you’re going to think "what am I doing?" But, never let the crew see it. You come up to set, you be confident, and you make sure that as far as anybody else is concerned, you know what you’re talking about. You have to be comfortable with the fact that film making is an art form. When somebody starts painting a picture, they’ve got an overall idea of what they want the picture to turn out like. But you might suddenly go off plan with a brush stroke, and you’ve got to adapt to match that mistake you’ve just made – and you will make mistakes. You’ll film things in a way that you won’t realise will have a big effect on that scene. So all sorts of things will come in the way, but what you can’t let it do, is phase you. You’ve got to be so pragmatic. My opinion on the matter is, I’ll come to the set and I’ve got a very different vision for what I want, but here’s what happens in reality: you get to the location, and it’s not what you thought it was going to be – so you’ve got to change that element. Remember the film, remember what you were trying to say, there’s always twenty different ways to say that thing.”
Hopefully, like us, you found Paton’s advice extremely helpful if you’re wanting to become a part of this industry. Sometimes we forget that directors, writers, actors and artists were once just ordinary people. It’s easy to think that you’ll never be a part of that world, but as Paton says, hard-work, being forward thinking and motivated will pay off. Never let a bad review disgruntle you, never let a rejection or dismissal dampen your spirit. Work even harder, and try again. For more information and advice on the elements of film-making, check out Crash Course on YouTube for all of their tips on directing, producing, editing and writing.