Award winning Birmingham filmmaker Brendan O’Neill of Stickleback Productions is hoping its third time lucky in his attempt to win the prestigious London Sci-Fi Society 48 hour filmmaking competition this year. A long time member of local filmmaking organization Producers’ Forum West Midlands – Brendan is confident that he can raise his game.
“Director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Warhorse, Sherlock Holmes, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) are on the jury this year so I’m going all out to win the competition. Last years prize was a feature film development deal with Vertigo Films!”
The competition has grown in stature every year since Monsters director Gareth Edwards won it in 2009. Last year it attracted over 300 entries.
“As part of the Film Division collective I’ve twice put 50 strong volunteer cast and crews together to try and win the competition. Last year we gained access to the costume wardrobe used in Band of Brothers and Atonement so went with a World War II theme. We converted a basement at the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath into a German command bunker and then shot battle scenes complete with pyrotechnics and charging SS storm troopers on a farm in Hopwood.”
In 2011 Film Division made a film for the competition called Internalised. Its about a woman who escapes from a sinister hospital like facility who is forced by her confused memories to return. It starred accomplished young local actress Kia Pegg of Tracey Beaker and Horrid Henry fame. It was filmed partly at the new Zelig Building at the Custard Factory and partly at BCU’s Faculty of Health training wards in Edgbaston.
“We used the rooftop at Friction Arts’ Edge Building in Cheapside, Digbeth to shoot one scene. We added some CGI and special effects to make the Birmingham skyline look like a scene from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.”
48 hour competitions are very frantic affairs as you only receive the compulsory title, prop and line of dialogue you must use in the film on the Saturday morning. Although you can do some pre-production in terms of having actors and locations at the ready this means in effect that you have to write the final script there and then.
You then have 48 hours to film it, edit it, score it and add any special effects and CGI you may need before posting a link to your film to the competition organizers by noon on Monday.
“A lot of the team are people with proven experience who are returning for a second or even third time to help me win the competition and bring the title to Birmingham. I’m directing myself this year having written and produced previously so I’m hoping our combined prior experience of doing this sort of competition will be invaluable.”
Irish actor Michael Parle who won Best Foreign Actor at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival for his lead performance in Ivan Kavanagh’s brilliant Tin Can Man has already signed up to take part. Tin Can Man won a Dublin Film Critics Circle award at the 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
“I already have a strong line up in terms of cast, crew and some excellent potential locations so I’m hoping to at least short-list in this years competition. Whatever the result it will be a worthwhile exercise as I’m planning to shoot my first feature Finders Keepers – a gangster chase thriller – this summer.”