Today Max Van de Banks came round and picked up the hard drive with everything I've worked on since September last year. It's always sad to see a project go especially when I've enjoyed working on it so much. It is a great story with fantastic actors and a brilliant production from locations to costumes. It has been a pleasure working with Max and Severn Film productions.
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Thu, July 07, 2016 10:23:24 Well we're nearly at the end of my involvement with Lost Hearts production with the locked of edit a few days away, which will be a shame as I have really enjoyed working on this project alongside Max the director and other team members.
Over the past few months we have been getting the FX shots from the very talented Daniel Rickard from Bright Helm Films. Daniel has done a superb job creating these shots with the tone and style that has lifted this production to another level.
Lee from Action films will be doing the color grading and are currently in the process of making a trailer, which we all are looking forward to seeing and I'll post it up once it is completed.
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Sat, April 23, 2016 14:43:55 It's been a while since I've worked on this project and have been told by the Executive Producers that Siren Song now has a US distributor:-) This will hopefully lead it being picked up by a European distributor. Anyway you can see the trailer in my portfolio or go to the IMDB here.
So they asked me to help with the press release and some Q&A on the film, from my directors perspective. I wanted to make it quite light hearted and add some little titbits in there as well.
Q&A with Director Benedict Mart
What was your inspiration for the film?
I’m a great horror fan
from James Whale ‘The Old Dark House’ to hammer horror and more recently the
Clive Barker films. A very special time in the UK horror film history was in
the 1970’s with classics such as ‘The
Wicker Man’ and ‘The Legend of Hell House’ where the emphasis was on atmosphere
and the gradual build up of tension - slowly unnerving the audience as the
films progresses until the climatic ending. Siren Song is a nudge and a wink to
those films from that period.
How long was the shoot? Where did you shoot?
The shoot was for 5
weeks in Cornwall during winter and one of the worst recorded storms in Cornish
history, which complicated the production as it was difficult to get actors to
the location, due to infrastructure meltdown. The story is based around an
Island hotel which we managed to get an old Cornish manor house, Landaviddy,
that dates back to the 17th century and has all the hall marks of a Gothic Manor ideal for this production and a perfect homage to the earlier film
locations from the 1970’s. Also we filmed
at Polperro Net loft, which is basically a barn on the cliffs that jut out to
sea , dating back several hundred years. Surprisingly that survived the great
storm but the harbour wall didn’t.
What is your favourite scene in the film?
The stand out scenes for me are when Dan(Mat Silver) first arrives at the
hotel and we have a track shot of him getting out of the taxi and being greeted
by Tess(Helen Rule, one of the sisters) with the hotel in the background
looming over them , which leads onto Dan entering the hotel reception and there’s
an awkward moment as Dan realises he has been set up. Another scene is when the
band members are chilling, as Callie is packing to leave, she draws out a confession from Ethan(James
Ward) to the horror of the other band members -they are some great moments
between the actors during that revelation. Also the scene with Dan and Ryan (C. Thomas Howell) in the corridor
arguing -while it’s basically a confrontational scene – they are a few lines
that would make you smile.
What was the most difficult scene to shoot?
Probably the exterior
shoot of when Dan was walking though the garden with all the dead bodies. It was
winter- cold and wet and everything that goes with it, like walking in a foot
depth of mud . But we over came and got the shots.
What do you think the essence of the film and its characters
For me the premise is ‘
humans can be the real monsters.’ This
can be seen with most of the “human” characters on screen. From Dan and his
secret to Ryan being complicate with Dan. Each character has a dark secret and
the sirens draw out their ode to death and avenge the dead. But the real Siren
song is the tune sung over the internet drawing the guilty to the island making
this a modern retelling of the classic myth.
Edit: At some point when I get time, I'll do a little Vlog on my thoughts on the film and the production.
Edit: The film has now been sold to a US distributor and has been renamed Bloodlust along with a new poster. It is currently on Amazon Prime.
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Sat, April 23, 2016 11:19:24 Well we have the final footage from the pick ups for Lost Hearts production. It was a busy but rewarding day as Max bought together all the elements for a fantastic shoot, from booking the castle location to organising the crew from costume to make up to props to camera. All worked really hard and were brilliant.
Below is a small video of the drone footage. I filmed the drone flying on my phone camera and made a low res proxy file of the 4k GH4 footage the drone captured. Lee and gang were on the controls.
Here's another small clip of low res proxy files captured in 4k S log of the interior of the castle scenes. the camera crew managed to get some of the shots story boarded but due to props and furniture they was slight variation.
Below are some Jpeg Stills from the files(low res...)
Since the pick up shoot I have backed up the files onto a master back up Hard Drive. After that I am creating low res proxy files so I can edit this in CS6 that is the original NLE it was cut in. At some point I need to speak with the Colourists (which I now believe the guys at Cheltenham Film Studios are doing) to finalise the work flow for delivery as this project has various formats from 720p to 1080 DNG to 4k S log files.
Really looking forward to cutting these scenes and getting the FX shots back and finally passing this on to the next stage... ever closer to completion:-)
Finally got to say again fair play to Max and the production team as well as the actors, they all gelled together and we have some great scenes in the can. Well Done!
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, March 21, 2016 18:37:47 Last year I got a call from Simon, a producer from A.K. Films, to help out on the edit of Caroline's Story- a monologue of the protagonist coming to terms with cancer. Which was interesting to work on a single monologue within this subject matter. Having it it all in FinalCut X (or as I like to say IMovie X) was a bit of a chore as the producers hired in a Mac for me. But with that aside it was completed and the producers were happy with the result.
Fast forward to beginning of March 2016, A.K. Films got back in touch with Selma and Louise project, about an a British Asian family living in Birmingham. It's a teaser trailer to hopefully be expanded into a full length drama or a small mini series. This time they wanted me as a main editor and happy to deliver the raw files to me, so I can use the N.L.E. of my choosing. For this project due to it being 5-8mins long I decided to use Blackmagic Davinci Resolve 12.3 as my main N.L.E. (the timeline is abit like FCX, lol).
The hard drives arrived from Simon with no paperwork, so I spent a day reviewing the footage taking notes and writing down shots. I've got to say the shots we're nicely lite, composed and some great movements in there as well. It was filmed on a Panasonic camera using AVCHD codec and Davinci Resolve 12.3 handled them very easily. The sound was spot on, hats off to the sound guy.
I firstly did a rough cut in chronological order. The first two scenes with 1 shot takes with some nice jib movement, the problem with these shots are that if you haven't rehearsed them thoroughly, it's hard for the actor to nail it on one take(esp on this production where I believe the actress came on last minute.com). Luckily the first segment of the shot started on a window and panned to the actress washing dishes. So I suggested that we start on her (after voice over of exterior shot) and use the window segment of the clip as a cutaway (her POV looking out of the window shot). So we can then use another take that was better delivered.
The second scene was the same one take with no cutaways, followed by 2 scenes of the older and younger generation of girls talking, which had maximum coverage:-) It ended at night as the husband walks in and deliveries his monologue. I uploaded it to dropbox for the producers to view. After some feedback it was decided to cut and mix the scenes into a non-linear narrative structure. Also we didn't have any shots to break up the scenes as they all happen in the kitchen, it was decided to have a day of pick ups - exterior shots of the house and the city.
So while Pickups were being done, A.K. films decided that they wanted a photo montage between India and England, so I searched for 'CC' photos on Flickr. Which aren't that many when you take into account picture size and the 'CC' license. I wanted to have matching content for example kids playing cricket but with the cultural differences. Also I graded the pictures so the India's photo's were saturated (India's vivid colours) and the English photo's desaturated (England's dull days) just to give them that little difference. Below is a sample of the montage photos...
I paced the montage into lengths of 10 frames inter cut with titled still frames of the actors, which I cleaned up and added some blur - to make the actors face stand out. The montage sped up after main title to 5 frames per clip, slowly getting longer until we hit the first shot of the zoom onto the house.
Once the title sequence was done and the pick up shots arrived I started on a few different cuts of the scenes to save them for when the producer turned up to maximize his time in the edit suite. When he came we screened the different cuts via creating different timelines in Davinci Resolve and Simon decided on the cuts he liked which we then tweaked to get the final cut. The scene with the husbands monologue had the cut away to the dripping tap, which we used and the producer liked how I implied the husband turned off the tap, at the end, signifying him ending his depression. I cut it from one of the shots of him about to fill up his glass. Please see below...
With the locked off edit we moved onto sound and for some reason the producers composer pulled out of the job, so I passed on details of a really talented composer that I use on many projects - Casual-T, which we sent over the files and CT did a fantastic job in bringing the title sequence and emotional score to life - a fusion of Asian and western sound while keeping it modern. Once we had the score from CT, the producer came round and we did a final mix and tweaked the dialogue sound.
For the colour grade we wanted to keep it quite desaturated carrying on the theme of England's dull days feel. I cleaned up acouple of shots, there was a hot spot in the hallway by the left top side of the door, also the scene where the wife is taking at the end her face was abit dark so tried to match it with the following shot. But overall I tried to keep it minimal with the grade.
All over the producers and myself are pleased with the final cut, it works well and we pull in a range of emotions as the edit flows though the narrative. A big shout out to the all the team working on this from production to post as I know there were some hick ups, but we have a cracking little film here, that you all should be proud of. Well done!
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Thu, October 08, 2015 11:41:12 Once we had finalised the narrative structure of the new edit we had to film some pick ups...a few shots for the dream sequences at Helen's manor also the flash back of the gypsies singing in the woods. Severn Films did a fantastic job organising the production we had an the excellent location, the crew we're very professional and the actors we're a joy to work with. Luckily it stop raining as we turn up to the location as we had storms all weekend. I filmed the small scene on my Blackmagic camera and you can see some of the ungraded shots below...
Here's some background research on M.R. James Lost Hearts
including a documentary on the man, the book reading of the story and a old TV
adaptation of the story. I'll then move onto some my ideas for this production
Mark Gatiss steps into the mind of MR James, the enigmatic
English master of the supernatural story.
Unabridged Lost Hearts narrated by Michael Hordern.
The adaptation I'm working on is set during the 1940's with
Steven being a child evacuee escaping the London bombings, as so many did
during the war. Max and his team have beautifully re created the 1940's look
within the film from costume to props to dialogue but my major concern is the
adaptation for screen of the narrative structure of Lost Hearts. This isn't an
attack on M.R. James, I am a big fan of his stories and it is widely known that
the hugely popular H.P. Lovecraft was inspired by James to the point were he
wrote several essays on M.R.James stories. James is the father of ghost stories
as Tolkien is the father of the fantasy genre.
Below are some key points have I have flagged regarding the
story and it's implications on the the adaptation...
*Everything happening to Steven from being told that 2
children have gone missing while at the manor, the dreams, the rips in night
gown & marks on the door, Mr Abney's warnings... Personally I think the boy
would be scared shitless by the time Mr Abney invites him to the 'late night
*No one working at the manor Mr Parks or Mrs Bunch never
connects the missing kids with the ghosts even when Steven says about the bath
*Mr Abney being the most knowledgeable '...in the Land...'
on the ancients/occults but advising Steven to close the window so not to let
anything in - wouldn't he know more on the ghosts(that Mr Abney murdered) and
if they can enter the house or not, wouldn't Mr Abney takes measures to stop
them rather then write them off on the '...feeble effects of these beings to
rig vengeance on him...' with all his knowledge?
*Why didn't the ghosts get their revenge earlier...maybe a
twisted joke - that Mr Abney was so close to becoming immortal and fails at the
last hurdle? Are the two children ghosts capable of this twisted thought? But
as written they tried to warn Steven and ended killing Mr Abney to save Steven.
*The major plot exposition at the end - doesn't work for me
on screen as it's documented dairy that is a long monologue of Mr Abney. It
seems quite dated for the 21st century story telling.
So for this adaptation we will make more use of the dream
narratives and that the ghosts need to be let into the manor house via these
dreamscapes. The dreams will be broken into 5...
1- Introduce the gypsy girl ghost by the river
2- The ghost outside the manor, Steven looks though the
window (this will then be told to Mr Abney who advises to keep the window
3- Steven opening the to the ghosts (allowing them inside
4- The bath tub scene
5- In a bedroom with the ghosts - just before they get
Having these extra dream sequences will heighten the tension
and scares, allowing the audience to imagine what the ghosts are now going to
do inside the house. Along side this it tightens up the narrative structure with each dream building upon the last.
To help strengthen our narrative we will expand and include motifs
that will run though out the story. These ideas include…
*Dreams of claustrophobia submission within the confined space,
fostering the emotions of fear and confusion…
1-Outside by the
river (Free) turns to unease seeing the girls scared face(Confusion)
2-Inside the house, looking out of the window (Trapped)
3-Corridor (Trapped) Opening the door just as Steven awakens(Submissive negligence)
4-Corrdidor (Trapped) Being lead into the bathroom(Forced)
5-Opening a new door(New beginnings) then the ghosts disappear for vengeance (Freedom)
*The leitmotif of the hurdy-gurdy is the signature sound of
the ghosts(it's the instrument that belonged to the Italian boy) will be in every dream sequence
and the final scene with the Mr Abney. This also reinforces the scene when Steven
is handed the hurdy-grudy connecting the real world to the dream world.
*The grandfather clock is the count down (impending doom) to the final act of
Mr Abney. These themes of time and dates run through out the story for example Mr Abney asking when Stevens birthday is and the time of the solstice.
*The dead are watching though unblinking eyes... of the
stuffed animals around the manor house. This motif will start as Steven enters the manor house for the first
time being watched by the said dead animals and will reoccur as he explores the
manor house. This metaphor is the real world's connection between the dead and the living.
Upon watching the previous edit we also needed to add a more personal touches to the story from the reaction shots of characters to the character exchanges that have nothing to do with the story but give it life.
Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, September 28, 2015 14:37:11 Commissioned to Re-Edit Severn Films adaptation of M.R. James -the godfather of ghost stories - 'Lost Hearts'. Directed by the talented Max Van De Banks and starring Nicholas Amer & Louis Newton. Here's afew stills from the production...