STRANGE WATERS, 16min,. UK, Thriller
Directed by Andy McLeod
Four strangers. A remote fort out at sea. A private party with an absent host. The tale of four soldiers who jumped to their death. Was it the isolation or some thing else? Will the fort claim it’s next victims or can they all survive until morning?
Strange Waters is my film directorial debut. First off, I just loved the script. We'd been in lockdown and it spoke to me as a metaphor for the isolation everyone had been experiencing during Covid.
I was also inspired by the location. The challenge of filming out at sea and being able to film on such a historical and atmospheric building.
In my theatrical career I have always strived for excellence and I wanted my film debut to also push the bar. I had worked with Rowena (our Writer/Producer) and the Actors for over a year during lockdown on a couple of online projects, and was at a point where I was ready to make my first film.
Filming on Spitbank fort was an amazing experience, we are the only dramatic piece ever to shoot there. It offered us some amazing landscape and drone shots as well some eerie interiors. We also shot in the Victorian tunnels under Ventnor Botanic Gardens, to recreate the fort tunnels.
We filmed during lockdown, which was a massive challenge and a risk in case anyone fell ill. Fortunately we were blessed with a fantastic, tight crew of 8 people, who were motivated to work efficiently whilst keeping each other safe.
Strange Waters is a film in its own right but we also have the longer feature script up our sleeve ready to go.
Get to know the writer/producer:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I think 2 years of lockdowns probably! During Covid we made four short films (with the actors shooting their parts on their own cameras at home) we were desperate to get out there and start filming properly. I had an idea to set it on one of the sea forts in the Solent, so I gave the owner a call and incredibly they were up for the idea of us filming on there. That was all the motivation I needed to create a script based on this unique and historic building. It was such an amazing opportunity.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I think I had the idea in March 2021, we filmed in June and then post took a little longer than we would have liked, but we were very new to that process! So, I'd say around 8 months in total.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Covid was a bit of an obstacle, as we were still under tier restrictions here in the UK. Thankfully, no-one got ill but really that was a huge risk which would have stopped the production. Also, logistics on getting out to the fort were somewhat in the lap of the Gods! Not only is it tidal but you can only access by boat and in good sea conditions. We were so lucky that the weather was good, maybe a little too sunny! Our film was set during a storm, so we then had some work in post and VFX to create that illusion of bad weather.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It's quite a surreal experience to be honest, but some wonderful comments which was great. We also left the film open ended as we have an idea for a full-length feature. It was good to see some people got that.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I think probably during lockdown. I had worked with Director's Cut theatre company in London, which moved online during Covid. Naturally, we turned to film as meeting in person for theatre was impossible. With lots of time on my hands, I taught myself to edit, and a team of us started creating short films.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Jaws, or possibly that's been overtaken by Ghostbusters (since my child watches it a lot!!)
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I think the audience feedback is a brilliant feature of this festival, it's so useful to us filmmakers to get this. You usually get feedback from people you know, so to get this from complete strangers, with no connection to anyone is very valuable. Any PR to help promote filmmakers is always gratefully received, podcasts, interviews...bring it on!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It's been a really positive experience, it's simple to upload and a central resource for submissions makes the process very straightforward.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Dark chocolate, although that's not really a meal is it! Maybe some vegetarian Asian food.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I have lots of projects on at the moment. We have a new short film called 'The Day of the Sun Dog' in post-production, which we filmed in June. It stars Paul McGann (Doctor Who, Withnail and I), we were so lucky to get him on the project, he was just amazing to work with, a huge privilege. We have also literally just wrapped on a short film called 'Weightless' starring the singer Toyah. That was very tricky as involved a lot of underwater filming. In fact, thinking about it all of the films have all been very challenging, either logistically out at sea, down tunnels, with animals or underwater! But you know I enjoy a challenge, easy would be boring!