Producer Caroline Spence talks about the making of CYBERLANTE.
Sometimes fate delivers a seemingly cruel blow, which actually turns out to be a good thing. So it was oddly fortuitous that our female-led action thriller, CYBERLANTE, was abandoned after only two days shooting due to a vital crew member departing with his associate and all the camera gear. What happened as a result of these events took us on a totally unexpected and completely eye-opening journey.
At the time, we were traumatised. Hiring or buying camera gear to continue the shoot in the film's original guise was beyond our financial reach, but being the passionate and tenacious (read: stubborn) filmmakers that we are, to waste months of hard work was unthinkable. So less than 24 hours after we gathered our cast and crew to deliver the horrible news that the shoot was postponed, we had brainstormed a new storyline based around resources we knew we could get our hands on quickly and easily.
Thus CYBERLANTE mark II was born.
Yet ensnaring available cast members from the original shoot, casting some new recruits and re-booking a key location is only half the story. We still had no camera gear, so what were we going to film with? The answer was in our pockets. If it’s good enough for Sean Baker (Tangerine) and Steven Soderbergh (Unsane), it’s good enough for us. Smartphones.
After considerable research, director, James Smith, settled on a Google Pixel Original smartphone as our weapon of choice. This, pimped-out with FilmicPro software, a filter, tripods and gimbals allowed us to move swiftly into production.
Although spread out over four weeks, we only needed 12 shooting days to get CYBERLANTE in the can. This is one of the benefits of using mobile phone technology: with such lightweight equipment, our ability to move quickly between locations saved a lot of time. Plus we were able to seize unplanned photographic opportunities and weave them into the fabric of the story. James captured some beautiful cinematography with the camera phone that many would find difficult to distinguish from larger-scale movies.
Naturally we faced the inevitable logistical hiccups...
Naturally we faced the inevitable logistical hiccups, problems and unforeseen events, and there were many psychological and physical obstacles to overcome, not least the fight and chase scenes at the end of the film. It was a bitterly cold day and a huge undertaking with only James on camera and myself on sound. Toward the end, the cold became so intense, James was shivering violently and struggling to operate the camera… so any camera shake you see on the final film is not always due to the hand-held technique! With huge credit to the cast, their fitness levels were top level, and they relished the challenge, enduring the freezing air and waterlogged fields without a hint of complaint.
Most of the scenes within CYBERLANTE were improvised. As we had kicked off production with only a treatment, the screenplay was being written as we went along. New locations would be offered to us during production, which would inspire scenarios, and so our actors would find themselves thrown in at the deep end having to learn new lines at a moment's notice.
Although shot on a smartphone with rudimentary lens capabilities, James utilised mainstream techniques to keep the production value high. So by using a mix of establishing, hand-held and tracking shots, the idea was to convey to audiences that CYBERLANTE was always intended as a full-length narrative feature film.
It was challenging, but it was fun. We learned a lot and the shoot opened our eyes as to what is possible to anyone in possession of a Smartphone. Shooting films on mobile phone technology continues to advance and, we believe, is here to stay.
CYBERLANTE is out now and FREE to view with Amazon Prime.
Caroline Spence - https://rayafilms.com/
No ordinary vigilante... CYBERLANTE follows the story of Matt, a young man with a dark past who moves to a new town to work in an isolated hotel run by an unsympathetic bully who has deadly secrets of his own.
Directed by James Smith and produced by Caroline Spence.
Starring Gavin Gordon, Emily Haigh, Mark Peachey, Domenic Tiberius Russo, John Savage and Mia Mills.
CYBERLANTE, is now available to stream, rent, or buy on Amazon worldwide, with further platforms and channels to be announced soon.
Visit www.cyberlantemovie.com for details