From zombies to flirting pensioners, two short films made last weekend illustrated the island has a thriving – and diverse – home-grown film-making community.
The films, Breathless and Soul Funk Mix Tape are by students in the MannIN Shorts training scheme.
Breathless, by Andreas-based American Shawn Sturnick, is a silent comedy about two elderly passers-by (played by Jim Beaman and Barbara Clague) who kindle a romance which turns into a no-holds-barred race full of dirty tricks and connivances.
During the two-day shoot, on Port St Mary’s lower promenade, the glorious weather actually created some problems for the film-makers explained Dave Armstrong, cinematographer and co-founder of MannIN Shorts.
‘It was actually quite a challenging shoot - and not just because we had two films on the go at the same time,’ he said.
‘Although everyone else in the island was probably basking in the glorious sunshine, the beautiful weather created real challenges for us; we had to deal with shifting shadows, rapidly changing exposures and - of course - sunburn and heat stroke dangers for the crew! But it all came together in the end and we’re extremely pleased with how it looks.’
The film also threw up some challenges for producers Angela Campbell and Jennifer Chance, not least because they are both new to film-making.
Their day jobs are in web development (Angela) and working for the government (Jennifer) and they had to learn a myriad of additional skills required of a producer, froim organising catering to mastering the tides.
‘It’s an awful lot of work producing a short film,’ said Angela. ‘How feature films get made I have no clue! But it’s been a real experience, everybody has been so helpful in getting us to this point. The results are looking spectacular, we’re all so proud to be part of it.’
Dave added: ‘Each film we produce has a balanced mix of experienced film makers and skilled crafts people working alongside trainees. It was a joy to be on camera and work alongside Shawn, while also training up brand new talent in the enthusiastic camera trainees we had on board.’
Meanwhile a post-apocalyptic world was being created in the Air Cadet Corps building in Douglas in the making of Soul Funk Mix Tape by Douglas-based Adrian Hall.
Unlike Breathless, which was one of three films in the scheme’s screenplay competition to successfully secure funding from Isle of Man Film, Soul Funk Mix Tape missed out on funding, but Adrian and producer Pam Smith went ahead and made the film regardless.
‘I’m so pleased Pam and Ady chose to make “Soul Funk”,’ said MannIN Shorts co-founder Christy DeHaven.
‘I personally love the concept of the film and the entire crew embody one of the key points we try to instil through the scheme - to just get out there and make movies!
‘I was fortunate to be able to spend time on set with them over the weekend and it was one of the most enthusiastic, laid back and enjoyable teams I’ve worked with.’
The film revolves around a popular girl (Laura Gill) and a shy boy (Chris Nudd), the dynamics of their budding relationship changes when the world faces an apocalypse.
Adrian added: ‘The apocalypse happened over the weekend - and the crew of “Soul Funk Mix Tape” were there to film the event! Our talented crew worked hard to shoot the film, which will be entered into this year’s Isle of Man Film Festival. We wrapped on Sunday and it was a zombie-filled success.’ Christy said: ‘Both crews worked so hard and we’re thrilled to have so many new MannIN Shorts members as a result of these shoots.’
She thanked the Arts Council and Poker Stars for their continued support, ‘without whom we wouldn’t have this scheme’. She also thanked Mike Reaney from Isle of Man Film for giving advice and assistance to the new producers. ‘We’ve seen a real boost in numbers at our recent meetings and workshops and I’m receiving emails on a daily basis from people wanting to get involved. I’ve even had emails from students in England and Ireland willing to pay their own way over here to get on board! It’s definitely a new chapter for us and could signify a real development in film making on the island.’