You currently have two science fiction films upcoming, Worm and
Let's start with Worm - in a few words, what is
I m not known for few
words and short answers, but Iíll try my best! Worm is about the
environment. When the essence of Mother Nature decides to take back what
is hers. It's about corporations and their lies and deceit, and it's about a
man, a human, who is out of sync with both reality and the society that
What were your inspirations when writing Worm?
Sitting in a call
centre just outside of Altrincham gazing out towards the fields and
endless stretch of pylons. That was the initial inspiration. Iíve always
been fascinated with the concept of energy, energy into corporations,
energy into the world, the world into nature. I believe some of the named
ĎGreen Energyí companies are up to no good, we shall see in a few
talk about the look and feel of your movie for a bit!
Look-wise I always had
the intention of shooting this film as low grade as possible. I had looked
into 8mm film and super, but the cost was rather out of my reach. Plus I
knew that should something fail on me I needed fast replacements, thatís
why I used a consumer market vhs-c camcorder. I think it cost me about £10
from ebay. So armed with my cheap camera and about £200 budget we set
about making a short experimental sci-fi. Shooting the film in Cardiff
proved a bit of a challenge, as I wanted these domineering buildings
oppressing the masses and the main character, unfortunately Cardiff has
been built with a great deal of width and height issues. So I went about
shooting down the back alleys, the tiny streets and rooms to give a sense
of not only an enclosed world, but a dark and miserable place. The place I
would like to live.
you can tell us about the movie's key cast, and why exactly these people?
has to go to Gavin Sims. Gavin plays the lead, all the characters are
really sketched out, so each one is simply called who/what they are. Gavin
is simply ĎThe Maní. I found him through a fairly popular casting
website that I shall not mention as I think they are unrelenting
arseholes, but through there it was a simple casting call. I'd spoken to a
fair few actors before about the role, but with Gavin he had the model
looks and the slim frame. But he was excellent, both as an actor, helper
on the film and his general willingness to put up with a lot of shit from
me regarding scenes. So hopefully we will work together on more films. As
for the rest, ah thereís a lot, Rose for patiently being in make up for
hours and hours in the basement of an art gallery to play the creature,
Keyo for borrowing his brother's suit to get buried in it, Nic for wearing
that lingerie for the seduction and to Seb for wearing a wonderful suit in
the middle of field before stripping off. The whole gang worked really
talk about the actual shoot and the on-set atmosphere for a bit!
It's harder to explain
this one, as I would say there was never really a set. I had a very small
budget that allowed to pay for some of the SFX and a few cameras/tapes.
When that money was gone it was very urban shoot style. I shot it over a
period of around 6 months and it was literally when someone was free I
would shoot something with them. The script started as a relatively small
10-15 pages and by the end Iíd got about 30 pages. So it was a very
organic shoot that kept growing all the time, changing and shifting, I
really did enjoy that experience. Most films are hectically shot over a
few days or weeks, but to have the ability to all live in close proximity
that we could shoot 2 days in a row, then not do anything for 2 weeks
before coming back and shooting some more, I mean we started in 2011, and
the amount of cast and crew had over that time makes it look like a full
on set, at most it was probably about 3-4 of us at any given time. It also
gave me chance to see what was happening, and rather than dictate the film to
my wants I decided to let the film show me where it wanted to go, which is
probably why I wanted a short film, and could well end up with a feature
length, as last time counting was around an hour, and I'm still shooting
extra bits. I would strongly advise any budding video/filmmaker out there
to do a film this way, almost like a hobby. It's very cleansing. But with
all the actors and meetings and chats over coffee, it all had a very nice
relaxed atmosphere. Certainly the most enjoyable film I have created to
- what is that one about?
Ah the flip side to
the coin. Thatís the way I see it anyway. Whereas Worm is very basic,
hardly any effects at all, apart from the city flyover (give mention here
to my resident VFX chap, Laurynas Tauyns here), Rhombus is laden with
effects and colour and shapes. This is a short film, almost an ode to the
old independent sci-fiís, the Le Dernier Combats or La Jetťes
fused with a side helping of colourful Jarman. It's about a pair of
wasteland wanderers, the girl and the boy but also about the time
traveller, the minister of time and the brute. Behind the surface it is
trying to bring together various characters from various places in time
and space, putting them in a desolate barren landscape and then letting
the whole thing play out. I tend not to try to explain too much about what
the storyís about, primarily because it would ruin the discovery and
secondly because sometimes I simply canít explain it. It's in my head, I
know exactly what its about in my head.
Again, what were your
inspirations when writing it?
I did draw on my
filmic educational background on this one. I had the idea for a while that
Iíd like to create my own little piece of pure sci-fi, rather than
social sci-fi, I'd had the idea of a traveller going back in time,
disrupting the flow and then having to not only face the consequences, but
to watch those around them do so as well. So when writing I was watching a
few sci-fiís from the 80's. I try my best not to pay attention to, when
the story of another film, but rather the feel, the style and look.
Filmmakers are all a bunch of thieves anyway, so I have no problem in
saying I steal looks from some films and effects from another, but then to
put them in the way that I want to fit. So moments from the BBCís
Threads and the TV series Quatermass and
Children of the Stones were all mini inspirations, as well as good trips down memory
has a very retro look to it - was that at all intentional?
Not really, I wanted
grain, but I general refuse to put in a Ďfilmí grain to make it look
like its an 8mm camera or old stock film, if you're going to shoot in HD
then make it look like fucking HD! So I've wanted to keep the HD sharpness
running through it, but I wanted it to be darker and with more bite, so
via various editing experiments I went with a look that I really hope
people donít think I went down the fake grain route, instead opting for
shades and sharpness, from that the colour just seemed to drain out of the
image. To counter balance that we went for a far more bright and colour
experience when dealing with various Ďoff worldí characters, I felt
this brought the film back from being pure experimental and into a sci-fi
there isn't a single line of dialogue in Rhombus
- what are the advantages but maybe also challenges of this?
It seems to be a trend
of mine, this no speaking lark. In Worm there was virtually no spoken word,
but then I added in a few key paragraphs to explain the unexplainable by
making the speech unclear. With Rhombus I wanted it to be a very visual
experience. To have the viewer fixed to the visuals, originally I wanted
cuts to be every 2 seconds thus giving said viewer a headache after the
original 10 mins or so. Instead we re at a nice 19 minutes, so I've been
convinced out of it. Part of the advantage is you donít need another
member of crew to record the sound! I love sound, absolutely adore it, and
all that is from good sound operator, so to me they're the most important
person behind the director. Just with this we had a limited number of
spaces I could accommodate for the shoot and I always felt that nobody
should talk anyway, why talk when actions can say everything. Challenges
of this are that the story can sometimes not be explained as easily as
people want it to be, but then, should everything be simple and easy? No.
Otherwise I d make a film with me doing a Bob Dylan, telling you
everything thatís happening, and Bob Dylan is boring, so I have no
desire to be put in that class.
can you tell us about Rhombus's cast?
For the extremely
short duration we were together, they were fantastic. A real bag of
different. We had the main character, the Girl, played by Roseanna, who
was a last minute snatch and grab as the original female actor seemed to
be in a constant daze or state of surprise, so it wasnít sitting well
with me, I then did a very quick search on said shall-not-be-named casting
site, you'd think I like them but I really cannot stand them, chastising
bastards that they are, and found this wonderful looking blonde haired
woman who had that child-like innocence, so it was a quick case of getting
in contact with them and getting them onboard. Along with Roseanna we had
Mike, the Boy, who is probably one of the best actors I've worked with,
again I'm a firm believer that for me to work with someone, it's not just
about them on screen, it's about the whole package, and Mike was very easy
to work with and helpful. Then there was Kayleigh in the role of the Time
Traveller, who Iíd met earlier when there was a possibility of working
together on a fashion video, but I turned her down, not because of her
ability but because I thought she was actually a bit too good and too
experienced to do it, I hope she doesnít mind me saying that, she is my
partner now after all! But Kayleigh came because I wanted a model for the
Traveller. Someone who didnít need to have any acting experience,
although she had, but someone who knew how to walk, thereís a certain
way models walk, it's powerful and strutting, like a peacock, and this was
needed for the power and stature of the Traveller. There was Edward, or
Vincent, who plays the Brute, a typical gentle giant, the man was a
fucking hoot! Good fun to be around, and did have to have the boring
position of sitting around for most of the time, so any actor who does
that and doesnít complain goes down good in my books. Last we had Nick,
who I've actually just finished shooting with today, finishing the last
sequence I wanted to throw in Rhombus. Due to Nick's character mystery I
didnít get to work with him as much as the others, but on the occasion
we've been together, be it chatting or walking through wind swept gales on
sand dunes, you can immediately tell the talent and depth, he has a strong
presence, so I m hoping it wonít be long before I get him front of the
few words about the shoot?
I will never ever be
the Independent Director, Producer, Editor and DOP again. It was the most
draining filming experience I ve ever had. After 2 nearly 20 hour days and
a long night before the main shoot, when we were shooting night scenes
outside Runcorn, I felt my body went into a form of regression when we
finished. Even my lips went dry, I couldnít eat the Big Mac Iíd wanted
for days with my usual enjoyment, that was a bit of a pisser for me. But,
considering the long long hours and complete lack of shelter other than
cars on set I have to commend the actors and crew for their work. Giving
special mention to my not then partner Kay for lying on a slab on cold
concrete for about an hour with nothing on but a flimsy tunic and sheet
covering her top. For some reason I always end up shooting naked or semi
naked or long shoots during very cold periods of the year. I think I've
yet to shoot a film in summer. This year was the coldest March the UK had
had for a very long time. What annoyed me the most though was that it
didnít snow, and I really wanted it to, would have given the film a
Both Worm and Rhombus
are science fiction movies - a genre at all dear to you, and how would you
describe your approach to the genre?
I donít know to be
honest. I try not to go in with any preconceptions about what a specific
genre movie Ďisí, rather I believe I am slowly developing a style now,
I see it and I feel I should nurture it and care for it rather than look
at the genre and think ďthatís how I should do itĒ. So like I said
before I do watch films, both for minor research and for pure pleasure,
but I try not to get overridden by what I ve just seen. Plus with
something like sci-fi, in todayís video world there is literally nothing
you cannot create with software like After Effects etc. but I donít own
After Effects, nor do I have any desire to do so. I've gone from being
cutting edge 4 years ago to now being behind the trend, I think that
speaks volumes for what this industry is like, and I think rather than
keep changing and being fairly good at everything, why not stop,
concentrate and be really good at one thing. I also donít think sci-fi
is all about spaceships and ray guns, although there is a spaceship in Rhombus, but
it's barely seen and in reality it's not a spaceship, its
something far more vanity driven and acquired.
How would you say
the two films compare stylistically?
I wouldnít, or hope
they donít compare the same. I feel they are the same, as in a coin,
each one on one side, totally different in look, feel, style and story,
but yet they fit in the same world. Worm is present and Rhombus is either
some point ahead, or behind, in time. I think it's something that isnít
thought about enough in films of the modern day, especially at the lower
end. We have limited time and money so I think you've got to be creative
and one way, my way, of doing that is to take a scenario or moment, one
that is in Ďourí perceived reality and then to shift it, just a
fraction to left or right, so it may seem strange or a bit confusing as to
why a certain character would do that, but as long as the world you create
follows suit, then it can be justified. I find lots of short films to
firmly stick themselves in our reality, and frankly itís a fucking bore.
Now I'm not saying my films are any better, I think most of my work is
shit, but once its complete, I'm not the one watching it, so I leave it to
others to decide, I'll be happily moving on to the next one.
Both films were
shot on a rather low budget. Is there anything you would do differently if
money was not an issue?
Iíd have a directors
chair. Thatís not so much of a joke either. Yes I'd love money, I'd love
buckets of the stuff, but even with Rhombus I found that having a large
small budget, I was originally going to shoot it for around £200 but
ended up with about £1000, that there was a bit of waste, a few props
bought but never used, a few location trips taken to find the right place
when in reality I'd found it all along. I would like to try to make a film
with a large budget one day, but it's not something I aspire to. Iím
aware of the restrictions that can take place when shouldering the weight
of the Dollar, Pound or Euro. I quite like having freedom, but on my next
solo project I would want a budget of around 20k, but that is a feature
length film, and I think it would be justified.
Any idea when and
where the films will be released onto the general public yet?
Rhombus should be
finished within the next week or so, Worm is still ongoing, but now has a
new editor after I lost my way with it, but it will return to me shortly,
so I would say by the end of this year both should be out and, hopefully,
doing the rounds at the festivals. After that I might create a joint DVD,
if nothing but for pure ego that someone might want to buy it!
future projects you'd like to share?
There are 3 in
particular. 2 underway as we speak. There is the international feature
film Blue Noon, that I believe has been present on this site, involving
myself, Cassandra Sechler, Jesse Richards, Salem Kapsaski and Scott
Barley, an ode to Franco and Rollin [Blue
Noon interview - click here]. There is The Passing of Film,
by video artist Jason Marsh (no relation) that is also international, and
revolves around the concept of taking 8mm film, sticking it in a camera,
shooting, then passing it onto the next artist. Something that I'm very
interested in to see the end result. Then there is the last one, the one I'm about to start writing, I wonít go into depth about it, other than I
ve given it the title of Liquid City AKA Night of the Demons, and
that itís a move to horror, specifically body horror, and takes place in
a city not too dissimilar from that of Worm, maybe even some reoccurring
characters might pop in. But its certainly the biggest idea I've had in
scope, and now is the time to take my endless note books with sketches and
doodles and turn them into a barely understandable script.
How did you get
into filmmaking to begin with, and what can you tell us about your formal
training on the subject?
My training on film
production was basic, very TV orientated, and I hate TV. I look back at my
education for production, and whilst I see that I learnt the basics I was
never really shown to break those rules, so thatís what I m doing right
now. I donít work with a storyboard for example, unless your shooting a
multi-million dollar sprawling production I canít see how it can help
other than be a hindrance. If for some reason you have to shoot something
different, due to light, weather or other various reasons, then doesnít
it throw every other proceeding drawing out the window? But I got into
filmmaking and video work after lecturing Film and Video at a college. I
went from being a critic, a film theorist, to a filmmaker. As for the most
influence I'd have to say that the Curriculum Leader at the time, Diane
Gregory, was a massive presence. To me this is a woman who has been there
and done that, a great lover of fine film and video art. She taught me a
hell of a lot, indirectly.
Do talk about your filmwork
prior to Worm and Rhombus for a bit?
Itís a bit here and
a bit there. I donít think anything to write home about, though Spotter
seems to have a small place in my heart. Although one did win a major
award at the Wales student film festival, that was a shock I can tell you.
But I think my early work has elements of decent moments, I'm evolving
right now, I'm changing and I'm better at what I do than when I started in
2010, so by 2016 who knows! But for me its always learning and adapting to
yourself and your content, rather than the innovations that are thrown at
you by those perceived to be in the know. I've enjoyed it all though, even
if I donít like looking back at them specifically, so with Mother
Prudence was the first real time I'd worked with actors, Spotter was my
first documentary, Paris 35 was my fist experiment and Dry Mouth was to
see if I could basically do a film in one day with just me, a camera and
Laurynas as my assistant.
would you describe yourself as a director?
is what I'd call myself. As a director I know I have the downfall of
sometimes not communicating with my actors as much as I should, and that I
am far more interested in how the scene will play out in my mind. Though I
donít think I'm going to change that, everyone works in their own way, I
donít believe I can really tell an actor what to do, I feel I can
explain to them a scene or where it fits within the film, but how to act
it, they're the actors, they donít tell me how to shoot and I donít
tell them how to act, much. I'm still in a state of discovery though, I'd
love to think I'd be a disciplinarian and run a tight ship, but I doubt
that will be evident unless I make a large film and pay the actors, then I'll have just cause to vent. But until then I'm largely willing to give
actors and crew a say, as at this level of filmmaking the team is
who inspire you?
I hate to say it as
you always seem to come off as some sort of groupie or adorner, but I
question any video artist or filmmaker to not have David Lynch in there
somewhere. To me the man did more than create beautiful surrealist films,
he showed that you can do that with money behind you, and that these forms
of films can be shown and be successful. I would also have to say that
Chris Marker is a favourite of mine, as is Christopher Petit, Bill
Douglas, early Besson, Von Trier, Herzog and Bela Tarr.
Your favourite movies?
depends on my mood, a real film students answer for you there. At this
very exact moment in time, I'd have to say the My Ain Folk / My Way
Home / My Childhood trilogy by Bill Douglas and Possession by Andrzej
and of course, films you really deplore?
Ah, this is far
easier, most of Hollywood. So your Bays, Camerons, Verbinskis, especially Tarantinos. I think the current crop of Hollywood Ďtopí
directors is particularly shit. Be curious to see the next generation and
whether or not they are engulfed with CGI. I do like Ridley Scott though,
so donít put him in that bracket.
movies' website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Me Ė www.retronicavideo.com (currently being updated)
Also me - https://www.facebook.com/christopher.marsh.3386
Worm/Rhombus - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Worm-Rhombus-2013/642560965775920
The Passing of Film - https://www.facebook.com/thepassingoffilm
Blue Noon - https://www.facebook.com/bluenoonfilm
Vimeo - https://vimeo.com/retronicavideo
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think your readers
might have had enough of me by now. But one group of people I do forget
are the musicians who have created some beautiful tracks for me in the
past, so thatís to Darkroom for Rhombus, Lesbian Horse for
Ant Dickinson for Worm and Xentrix for most of the stuff prior to those
for the interview!