Our Culture Editor Alice Roberts sat down with the director and producer of Darkroom, the premiere film of Mechanised Production in collaboration with
On The Rocks.
Are you interested in filmaking? Photography? If so, Darkroom is your must-see On The Rocks event. Mechanised Production’s premiere film, in collaboration with M&B Arts production, is purported to be dark and experimental, with a focus on psychology and the protagonist’s confrontation of pressing existential questions.
In addition, the details of the newly formed Film-Making Society will be revealed – how to join and their aims for the coming year. The society has a working connection with the Film Studies Department, and wants to create a fully democratic environment through which to facilitate the production of films by its members by offering technical and artistic advice alongside access to professional cameras.
Terry Lee, the director of Darkroom, described his interest in film springing from animation, but then after realising he ‘couldn’t draw to save his life’ he shifted to words instead. Film, as a combination of visual and verbal, he said, felt like a natural progression from his love of writing.
Without giving too much away, the protagonist of Darkroom is a press-photographer; the film will raise issues such as stress from overwork (which in deadline season we can probably all appreciate…) and the nature of creative vision. Photographs from the director and other cast members will also be featured. The director and producer intend the film to be an immersive experience – ideally the audience will ‘almost smell the fixing liquid’ of the darkroom. The decision to film in black and white was in part a consequence of not being able to find the right infrared light, and a creative decision to maximise intensity and focus on the inner life of the protagonist.
Filming took place over eight days, and was followed by extensive editing. The film script was originally intended for the stage (and apparently written amidst an intense spell of jet lag) but was then adapted into a screenplay, with contributions and revisions by the cinematographer.
Creating a film no small undertaking, and Terry and Valeria described some of the complications they had to work through: choosing paint that was compatible with plyboard, organising the set and dealing with a sudden shortage of tea. The director claims a two hundred pack of English breakfast tea was finished part way through production. After many skipped lunches and skipped hours of sleep, Terry described the disappearance of the tea as being one of the few reasons to take a break (and run to Tesco).
As a final note, while watching the film the director’s advice was to ‘be aware of shadows’ (both literal and metaphorical) and expect some breaking of the fourth wall.
Mechanize Productions in association with M&B Arts Productions
Director: Terry Lee
Producer: Valeria Ryabchina
Cinematographer: Boris Bosilkov
Costumer: Austen Schurig and Felicity Guite
Editor: Ksenia Mikhaleva
Set Designer: Lily Ratcliff
Set Manager: Anna South
John: Jannick Brachman
Camera: Rosie Beech
Damien: Laura Middag
Veronica: Anna South