You love the movies right? You’d love to make your own? Well, Nick Acott and Gary Scullion are so passionate about films and film-making that they’ve decided to make their own. On a budget of £900.
As The Film Review are interested in up-and-coming talent, and British movies in particular, we thought we’d catch up with the guys and find out what they’re up to. Both Nick and Gary are 25, and have been into all things film for as long as they can remember. The change came when, “We got fed up with talking about stuff and decided to do it” as Nick puts it. “There is no support for film makers in the UK, so we just thought we’d better go and do it ourselves.”
Gary completed a diploma in filmmaking at the London Film Academy, three years ago and has since been working as an film editor on various TV and video projects. It was during his studies that he hatched the zany plot for their current film, The Night The Reindeer Died, came about.
The frenetic Christmas comedy-action tells a story of things going wrong for Santa Claus one Christmas eve, when he is captured by an evil toy company executive while out delivering presents. He is tortured for his secrets, but somehow manages to hold his tongue. Finally, help comes to hand when two rescuers turn up. These are no ordinary saviours however: it is Jesus and God who have to fight their way through 200 evil henchmen and save Santa.
Gary takes his inspiration from South Park or Family Guy, and says he realised the concept might work because “over the last few years whenever I mentioned my idea to people, they’d say ‘I’d watch that’.” Gary and Nick contacted some actors they’d kept in touch with from some previous projects, including Jon Campling (who has a role in the new Harry Potter film) and were very pleased when they agreed to take part.
The next thing was to get some finance. The guys decided they would raise some money on IndieGoGo, a fund-raising website, so started to offer various funding packages. These ranged from the ‘Santa package’ for $25 which gave donators a credit in the movie, all the way up to a ‘Holy Roller package’ for $250 which meant donors would receive an executive producer credit, have a henchman named after them and get an official signed movie poster. The money will go towards covering actors, post-production special effects such as muzzle flashes, and music.
So far the initial $1,250 (£900) amount has been reached, but they will “keep on pimping it around the web to find funding and audiences”, as Gary puts it. Any additional funding will go into improving the film – they can always use a bit better music says Gary.
The other great online resource that Gary and Nick have used is the amateur film-making websites, Film Riot and FreddieW. These sites give tips on how to make professional-looking movies on a fraction of the budget. For instance, FreddieW made a short movie (1 minute and 2 second) of a William Tell scene of a sniper shooting a water melon off his head, and then goes on to explain how he did it using special effects without endangering his life.
Film Riot explained how to make a cheap dolly track for £40 using things bought in a hardware shop, when a professional one would normally cost hundreds of pounds. Although Gary had learned some key skills as a part of his diploma, but FreddieW and Film Riot taught them to do things in a way that isn’t taught in film school. “You don’t have to spend 20 or 30 thousand pounds, you can get by on £500 or £1,000,” he says.
They will be doing the entire shoot on a single day on Sunday 21st of November and hope to complete most of the shooting in the day time with some ‘pick-up’ shots at night. Post-production should be about 3-4 weeks of cutting and adding visual effects. The Night The Reindeer Died should come out the week before Christmas – when everyone breaks for work. That’s if the name, which comes from the classic Bill Murray comedy Scrooged, sticks – they’re thinking of letting users choose the film title in a poll on IndieGoGo.
Asked whether he thinks the subject matter isn’t a bit controversial, Gary reminds us that he was born in Northern Ireland where he had a Christian upbringing, and they’re keeping it in good spirits. “God and Jesus are characters in the film rather than being the religious figures themselves and we’ll be tactful.” After all, he points out, some people won’t like it anyway, even films as apparently harmless as The Matrix or Star Wars get people angry. He’s probably right that you can’t please everyone, and he concludes with what could be their defining motto: “We’re not going out to upset people, we’re having a bit of fun making a quirky action film.”
Check out Nick and Gary’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/sneakyzebra
Check out their IndieGoGo page: http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Night-the-Reindeer-Died