We were commissioned to create a full EPK / behind-the-scenes package for independent thriller Gatecrash (2020), filmed pre-COVID. The film is a dark psychological thriller that follows a couple who find themselves in a hit-and-run situation, with the evidence suggesting it might not have been an accident.
This was an amazing project to work on. Independently made at Goldfinch Studios in the Yorkshire countryside, the setting perfectly reflected the claustrophobia and isolation of the story. The film was directed by Lawrence Gough (Endeavour, Dr Who) and starred Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones) and Samuel West (Darkest Hour, The Crown) who we were able to grab some time with in the green room in between takes. We covered topics such as the film’s origins as a play, the parts the actors were playing, and what it was like to film in very long takes, which was a method being used by the production so as not to interrupt the flow of the Pinteresque dialogue. Samuel West comments that the quality of the writing certainly attracted him, as did his role which is worlds away from the parts he confesses to usually getting offered (“I usually play damaged posh people in the past”!) Anton Lesser jokes that needing to remember a great deal of lines in one go adds a certain thrill – “Every actor in this situation is thinking, I don’t want to be the one to screw it up!”
The film’s production design by Boadicea Shouls was particularly fascinating to witness. How to you build a set for a film that is to be essentially made in 20-minute long Steadicam takes that may swivel 360 degrees? In the end the production team made use of all three of the studio’s main stages (as the ‘garage’, ‘living room’ and ‘bedroom’) and built dummy corridors and rooms to link them together, making use of every space in between to hide production areas such as video village for the director to watch the action from. A particularly clever detail was to build the wide ‘kitchen window’ at a 45 degree angle so it would push any reflections down and not reveal the camera crew when facing the window and lit for night. Behind this window was a ‘translight’, a high-quality photo of one of the nearby fields to serve as an artificial horizon within the studio so that the ‘outside’ lighting could be controlled too, and indoor night scenes could be filmed during the day.
All the set’s lighting was cleverly rigged from above by Director of Photography Mark Nutkins, with every light running back to a switch panel in the dimmer room operated by the Best Boy. The camera choreography alone was a bit like a dance (a ‘prowling, subtextual game’ as the director describes it) – in fact we covered one sequence of camera moves by rigging a time-lapse camera out of sight in a high corner of the set, where you can see all the tape marks on the floor that the crew needs to remember to step on. It was truly fascinating to document. As star Olivia Bonamy says, “it’s a kind of a mix between theatre and cinema – very exciting!”
The outdoor filming which comes with a shift of tone to more action in the film’s third act was another challenge. Actor Ben Cura endures an extraordinary amount of fake wounds and blood, and runs us though how Freda the makeup designer goes about transforming him. Then at a nearby airfield the production team found a perfect area to safely shoot their car stunts on, which required a good deal of camera rigging to a Mercedes. There was also lighting added to the car’s front to boost the headlights. Then stunt doubles took over for Anton Lesser and Olivia Bonamy, allowing us to get that favourite behind-the-scenes shot where they swap places. We captured the stunt action in the car by rigging our small action-cams to the camera rig itself. Anton’s stunt double had to perform a daring leap and roll out of the car as well, landing perfectly on a pre-selected spot in front of the camera.
This is the short version of the full documentary we made, and was a great project to be involved with. The movie is now available to watch on streaming sites.