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An Interview with Chris Collier, Director of Phometrica Redacted and Harvest

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2016

Films directed by Chris Collier on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Phometrica Redacted - in a few words, what is it about?


In essence it’s a fairly simple story, although we chose to tell it in a very artful way using sound and strong dynamic visuals. A young guy, Jose thinks his girlfriend is cheating on him. So he follows her and uncovers some things he can’t explain. This includes some clues that lead him to some strange places.


What were your sources of inspiration when dreaming up Phometrica Redacted, and in what way is it related to your earlier movie Phometrica?


Phometrica Redacted is a 15min cut of our earlier film Phometrica. When we wrote Phometrica we deliberately created it without a structured narrative. In fact I started at one end and Craig Ennis at the other and we met in the middle. We also peppered the film with clues, odd symbols, and repeated number patterns. The idea behind this was to create a film that plays out as a dream, and allows the audience to force their own narrative on it. The result was certainly interesting, but we felt that it might work better narratively as a short and so we had the idea of cutting it down to a more logical core - redacting a lot of information.


What can you tell us about your co-writer Craig Ennis, and what was your collaboration like? And how did the two of you first meet, even?


Craig and I have worked together since 2013 when we started 24 Foot Square. Craig did indeed co-write Phometrica with me, and was also the DOP on both Harvest and Phometrica, but he also co-produced both projects. On Phometrica, once production had started he took the lead in that area. That was particularly important as we were trying to make a feature film on the smallest of budgets. As partners in the business, everything is a collaboration and Craig’s influence is equally present in all our work.


Phometrica Redacted is rather abstract and surreal in approach - so do elaborate on this a bit, and how hard was it to not just lose your story in the process?


I think the primary thing we decided on when getting through to a final draft was that there should be at least one logical path through the script, so that the audience could follow it with ease. That logical path is what remains in the shorter cut of the film.


Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


We were very lucky to get such a great cast for Phometrica, even with such an unusual script. Even when we were shooting some of the more odd scenes, everyone gave their all. Tom Woodward in particular was put through quite a lot — including being covered in blood and salt.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


The on-set atmosphere was generally good, even when conditions were inhospitable. One of the locations in the film is an old cinema. To enable us to shoot there, we needed to film at night. This is fine at maybe one in the morning when you’re all still quite fresh, but when you're trying to grab one last shot at 6am before their cleaners arrive it can be a little difficult — but with all credit to the crew, they just kept going.


Another new film of yours is Harvest - so what's that one about?


Harvest was an in-between project. We’d been working on a feature documentary, but that stalled and we couldn't get a start on another script. So, the idea was to come up with something really high concept. Something, simpler in narrative but still with an unusual tone. The story is therefore pretty simple; Heather (Luna Wolf [Luna Wolf interview - click here]) wakes up somewhere, bound, gagged and confused, and we just let the story play out from there.


With Harvest playing with horror motives, is that a genre at all dear to you, and why (not)? And other sources of inspiration when dreaming up Harvest?


Horror is something that’s dear to me, I think there are often some very interesting films that come from the genre. Whilst it might not seem like it at first glance, Harvest and Phometrica have a lot of elements in common. Neither story appears to take place in the real world, at least not one that I’ve experienced recently. That’s where the William Burroughs influence comes in. There are also a number of clues throughout both films that point to influences — a recurring jar of marmalade in both films and a rather telling tin of carrots in Harvest.


For the most part, Harvest is a one person, single location piece - so what were the limitations but maybe also advantages filming that way?


The stuff shot in the house for Harvest was great. We had the whole house so we could set up Luna in a room to do her make up and carry on working on the rest of the set. However, this was not an empty house. So, we had to move every item that was likely to appear in shot, out of shot. That included all the cupboards. That was a little painful. Shooting on the beach was ok, although the weather was a little dodgy. The only real issue was that the scene is really one long tracking shot and keeping stones off the track was a pain.


You of course have to talk about your leading lady Luna Wolf [Luna Wolf interview - click here] for a bit, and what was it like working with her? And a few words about the rest of your cast?


I've known Luna for a while, and we’d been trying to find something to work on. So, when I wrote Harvest, I knew it was gonna be Luna in the role of Heather. I also need to mention that she did all of her own makeup, including making her own wrists — how is that even possible? The rest of the cast, who appear mainly on the beach — Phil, Joe and Tom. Joe and Phil I’ve also known for a long time and both were in the feature length version of Phometrica (they were redacted sadly). Tom was the 1st AD and stepped in when someone pulled out. 


Again, do talk about the shoot and the on-set atmosphere?


That atmosphere on Harvest was a lot calmer. The crew was tiny. It was a lot of fun. The equipment was obviously a step on, but with Craig and I owning that equipment and using it with our company for other work that also made things easier in that we knew what the camera could and couldn't handle with regards to light.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of both Phometrica Redacted and Harvest?


It’s been good. In general people have been very supportive. These films where not made with the expectation of finding a mainstream audience. I think the great thing about the release on Amazon Video is that it has the best chance of finding its core audience.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


At present Craig and I are working on a feature length documentary, which we’ll be able to discuss further in the new year. I’m also continuing to work in sound design, and I’m currently working on Emma Dark’s latest film Salient Minus Ten [Emma Dark interview - click here]. This is such an exciting project. Emma’s produced a really interesting and artful concept, and that includes the sound. She’s also pulled together a great cast. In addition to that, the opportunity to put sound to Philip Bloom visuals is an great opportunity. And on top of all that, I’ll be working alongside the very talented composer Eric Elick.


As far as I know you came into the filmworld via music production - care to elaborate, and how do the world of music and movies compare, actually?


I started playing the drums when I was eleven and almost immediately on joining a band became interested in the process of recording music. So, I started out on little multi-track recorders and moved over the years through reel to reel and finally to computer based systems - more or less at the time of their inception. That’s when I became involved with electronic music and electro more specifically. The step from there to film is a lot smaller than it might seem - a sound mix on a DVD extra and then a sound mix and some sound design and, then the next logical step is editing video. And then that’s when I met Craig.


Phometrica Redacted

The first movies you produced were actually documentaries, right? So do talk about those, and how did they prepare you for making narrative films?


Other than the technicalities of producing the final work, I don't think there was much that prepared me for making a narrative film. However, I did learn a key lesson that in order to learn how to make films you have to make films. Talking about making films is no substitute for making a film, even if the result is not something you're happy with. You put it to one side and make another one.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


In a coat. I always wear a coat. This is the one constant.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


So many, it could be a massive list but here are a few: Stanley Kubrick, Werner Herzog, David Fincher, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Mike Leigh.


Your favourite movies?


Again, could be a huge list but here are the most influential: All The President’s Men, The City of Lost Children, Vivre sa Vie, Alien, The Thing, Encounters At The End Of The World, Star Wars: A New Hope, Blue Velvet, This is Spinal Tap.

I'm sure I've forgotten loads.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


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Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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