almost famous

– . – Almost Famous

Almost Famous

It’s notoriously difficult to break into the film industry; it’s an unforgiving system, only granting access to the talented – or connected – few. But, undeterred, some new British directors are throwing out the rule book and forging their own paths…

Even if you haven’t heard of Marc Price, you’ve probably heard of Colin. The fact that this British zombie movie has reportedly been made for under £50, and yet has been picked up for theatrical release, has piqued the interest of independent filmmakers and the media alike. Yet, surely it’s impossible to make a feature on such a shoestring; surely it’s just a convenient publicity hook? Not according to 30-year-old writer/director Price, who claims that given the availability of modern filmmaking technology, anything is possible.

“I’ve got a vested interest in filmmaking and how to record moving image,” he explains, “and the only way to do that domestically is through a camcorder. I had my first one about nine years ago and then when the idea for the film came along, I thought, ‘Let’s just do what I’ve done before.’ So we shot the bulk of the movie on a Panasonic NV-GS250 and that died about half way through so we ended up using my much older Panasonic NV-GS15. I didn’t have a problem cutting the two types of camera together either, even though one was a single chip and one was a three chip.”

Price explains that it wasn’t just his equipment that was on a small scale: “[It was mostly] just me, the actor Alastair Kirton and the camcorder in a location that we knew would be quiet at the time we went to shoot. That’s how we managed to get that sense of isolation. It sounds pretty obvious when you say it, but if you can tilt the camera up so you’re shooting about seven or eight feet above ground level, you’ve got that angle, there’s very little activity that high off the ground, even in a bustling city. Most of the time we just knew when it was quiet and we just showed up—no permits or anything.”

And Price’s low-budget tenacity didn’t just extend to the shoot itself. “A lot of it went into the sound design. On fireworks night I was hearing all these different pops and bangs and whizzes and I thought, ‘That’s a really good sound for a character who doesn’t know those sounds are dangerous for him. It will be really tense if for all the exterior scenes we had these distant shots.’ My flatmate stuck the camcorder out of the window and recorded about an hour and a half worth of distant shots, crackles, cars and people screaming. So I edited out all of the obvious sounds of fireworks night, and we were left with a really long atmospheric track. And there’s a really amazing natural depth to the sound that I was really excited by.

“I thought the way to make the film look interesting visually was instead of trying to light it like a 35mm film and making it look nice, to go the other way and embrace all of the flaws and the blowouts and the underexposures and overexposures,” Price continues, “and it ends up looking much more interesting but it doesn’t look like we’re trying to light 35mm film on a mini DV!”

Despite the bargain basement nature of Price’s shoot, the story of Colin is far-reaching in its ideas, and the writer/director certainly did not scale down his imagination to suit his budget. “If it was a script that I was handing out for others to read, I think they would have got through the first four pages, thumbed through it to see how much more descriptive text was in it rather than dialogue, and just gone, ‘You know what, screw this guy. This isn’t a script: this is a really badly written novel!’ and they’d just throw it away,” he laughs of the screenplay he wrote while working in a courier’s office. “Because I knew how I was going to shoot it, the script for me became like reminders of how I’d like to shoot the scene. And when I write, there’s this bizarre over-reaching mentality of mine. I’m like, ‘OK, we’re going to fill a room full of zombies, and it will probably never happen but this is what we’re going to start with and we’ll see what we can pull off.’”

To read interviews with the other directors in this feature (below), subscribe to the print or digital versions of the magazine.

  • Phil Hawkins
  • Jon Harris
  • Dominic Murphy
  • Lawrence Gough
  • Jack Price




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