Off the back of his latest short film – the award-winning dark comedy, Red Handed – Vancouver-based British director Edward Andrews is looking to the future. Quite literally.
His new dystopia-themed action project, Hecatomb, is set to make its first appearance later this year.
In the first of three behind-the-scenes discussions, Nicholas Lay caught up with Ed to get the lowdown on the film’s intriguing development…
So, Hecatomb – what’s it all about?
Hecatomb is a proof-of-concept science fiction film, designed to give the audience a snippet of what they can expect from the finished feature:
In the year 2092, 60% of the planet is uninhabitable. Governments and gangs fight for control of the new world. An engineer is captured by a rival gang intent on coercing him to help break their leader out of a maximum security prison, located deep in the deserts of Mexico.
How did the idea originally develop?
Coming off of Red Handed, I knew I wanted to make a sci-fi proof-of-concept as the blueprint for a feature production. My vision was to build a post-apocalyptic world on an extremely low budget, using the skill set developed from my years as a visual effects artist.
Producer Eduardo Parra and I sat down one lunchtime and brainstormed ideas for what we felt would make an entertaining science fiction picture, which led to a discussion about films we love, such as District 9, Children of Men and Sicario. The goal was to create and build a concept that we could pitch to studios as a feature, and for said concept to be completed using the minimal budget range available to us.
The concept certainly sounds ambitious. How did you go about putting together a budget?
During our first meeting, Eduardo and I decided we were going to make Hecatomb for next to nothing. It would be a passion project, and we knew the people involved would have to be both excited about the concept, and big fans of cinema in general in order for it to work.
That’s where Carlos G. Davilla – our producer in Mexico – came in. Eduardo introduced me to him over Skype and we quickly knew that, with Carlos’ help, production would be feasible. Regular meetings with Carlos meant we were able to look at the issues ahead of time and stay within our budget.
On a personal front, my background in visual effects enabled us to paint a clear picture of what was possible on such a small budget. It’s fair to say the project is ambitious, and we did indeed have very little time to prepare and shoot the film. But when you recruit people who have the same vision as you, and the same passion to see it through, anything is possible.
The film is set, and shot in Monterrey. Why Mexico?
In the early stages of pre-production, Eduardo and I talked about how cool it would be to make a film somewhere other than Vancouver. That’s when Mexico came into the equation. I like to challenge myself as a filmmaker – whether it’s a genre I’m yet to tackle, or a location I’m unfamiliar with – either way I’m always looking to try something new.
I had never been to Mexico and the thought of making a film down there in the desert just sounded so exciting. It’s a beautiful country and the landscape fits the concept perfectly. I also thought it would be really great if I had the chance to work with a crew I had never met before. That alone was a reason to push myself to make a film somewhere unfamiliar.
On paper it looked a real challenge, but Eduardo and Carlos made it happen. Eduardo sold me on the idea, while Carlos loved the script to the extent that he was sending me location photographs and ideas for costumes within hours of our conversation! It was a great collaboration and I’d love to go back to Mexico to shoot with the same crew sometime in the future.
What other challenges arose during pre-production?
As with any low-budget project, various problems did arise. Certain voluntary crew members were lost to paid jobs and we had to sacrifice on set positions to keep numbers low. Location scouting and subsequent decisions had to be made by photos and videos alone, all sent by email. Scheduling such a tight two-day shoot was also fairly tough to figure out, as nailing down the cast and sorting out logistics were still taking place just days prior to production.
Overall, however, I have to say what a fun rollercoaster ride pre-production was. Everyone was just so excited, which made it a great experience from start to finish!
The next update will feature a closer look at Hecatomb’s production phase. In a few words, what can we expect?
An experience that ranks somewhere between crazy and chaotic – either way it’s a story I look forward to telling!
Our in-depth peak into the development of Hecatomb will continue with a roundup of its hectic production on location in Mexico. Stay tuned!
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