Film and Media: ‘Graham’s Interlude’ Wins at Eastbourne Film Festival
Congratulations to a company of Bede's pupils including Writer/Director Ivan Friedman, Director of Photography Harry Wilson, Camera Operator Will Morgan and Production/Post-Production Sound assistant Hal Taylor, whose film recently won 'Best Visual Effects' at Eastbourne Film Festival.
The experimental short entitled ‘Graham’s Interlude,’ the film sees Graham (2015 Bede’s alumnus Callum Friedman) losing his younger brother in a horrific accident.
“As Graham’s mind has slowly been driven into the ground, we find him in a dark place in his life where he attempts to numb himself with psychoactive substances,” Ivan explains.
Ivan at work on the film.
“This causes him to fall more deeply into his broken mind than ever before, in order to try to recover from such impacting trauma. Psychological trauma has had a devastating effect on him, and seeing how it attacks him so violently isn’t there simply for effect, it is an expression of real experience and is really what drove the inspiration for the story.”
Filmed over the Summer holiday, with a cast that also includes Bede’s pupils Ashley Meffen and Raphael Barber and with music from Bede’s Head of Music Production Mr Hopkins, the company’s achievement is truly remarkable.
Shooting on location.
I recently sat down with Ivan and Harry to talk about the process of making the film, with my first question being about the company’s thematic and stylistic touchstones.
“Much of our inspiration for the film was visual,” Ivan explained. “And while this film may not be an accurate representation of the effects depression and anxiety can have, we still hope that it can in some way be a carrier for this message.
“It all stemmed from one visual concept, which was a single shot seen in the early stages of the story where Graham is lying on the grass looking up into the sky.”
From this, Ivan crafted a story for Graham whilst listening to what was previously deemed conceptual music but which ended up being the soundtrack for the film, with Harry helping to visually translate the ideas during storyboarding and shot-listing.
“For the visual tone, we were inspired by a recently released short film Real Gone by Seth Worley,” said Harry.
“Graham’s Interlude is a deeply personal film, and we hoped to remind people of the existence of mental illness and how brutally it can damage people. Our vision for it seemed to match the tone of Real Gone, while the visual effects were heavily inspired by Douglas Trumbull’s work in The Tree Of Life directed by Terrence Malick.”
“The ‘creation of the universe’ sequence was a visual poem constructed of organic visuals, macro cinematography, no CGI or animation,” adds Ivan.
“Even though we tried similar techniques, it opened up a world of possibilities and unplanned visual beauty, thanks to Harry’s hard work in developing and creating these shots. He was ultimately awarded for this amazing work at Eastbourne Film Festival for ‘Best Visual Effects’.”
And what was the most challenging elements of the process?
“The most challenging element of the film was hands-down the pre-production,” Ivan continued.
“Everything seemed to fall apart more by the day! People would call up and let us down for the biggest shoots, a key piece of rented equipment was stranded in Calais because of the strikes 2 days before it was supposed to arrive, and the weather was so unpredictable that planning just became gambling!”
Because the crew had planned so thoroughly for almost 6 months, down to microscopic detail, the production stage was “a breeze” however, and everything happened seamlessly since the team of filmmakers was so focussed.
“In post-production we had an efficient online system where Ivan and Harry could both access the entire project, updated to the cloud in real time, using countless backups of footage,” explains Hal Taylor, who assisted on editing and in post-production.
“Ivan was on editing and Harry doing his colour magic while I managed to mix the final film in just a few days before the first official full draft cut was completed. All the while, Mr Hopkins was composing the most beautiful and moving scores we have ever heard, to accompany the dream-like sequence of the film.”
As it neared completion however, the project was so massive and demanding of the team’s machines that it took its toll on Ivan’s laptop.
“The process ended up melting the wiring internally from overheating,” Ivan chuckles.
“That didn’t stop us though. We finished the film and it was finally ready a day before release.”
That the team is united in their agreement that the most satisfying part of making the film was watching the evolution of draft cuts and seeing the final film come together with all the little touches and details being refined, is a joy from my own perspective – as is the team’s insistence that Bede’s was an important factor in its success.
“The opportunity to use the plethora of high quality equipment from the school to its full extent was fantastic,” said Ivan, “and the opportunity to get our hands on a camera lens worth over £3000 for a week put a big smile on all of our faces!”
With Harry now working on an advert from an independent bike brand called Loopo, which he has designed the brand identity for, and Ivan writing a mockumentary based on the life of a young bush crafter “with a slightly irrational approach to the future of nature appreciation,” the boys are now looking ahead to the longer-term future.
Harry is hoping to study graphic design at the UWE in Bristol or Ravensbourn studying digital advertising, working his way up to work in the advertising industry while Ivan is hoping to move to London to study at Ravensbourne University and slowly work his way up the ladder of the film production industry – but, for now, school has to come first.
“We both have tonnes left to achieve during our time at Bede’s, but this is a brilliant leap forward for us both. It’s quite surreal to have the award under our belts though – especially as we are mostly preoccupied with doing well in our coursework at the moment!”