I was drawn into indie film ‘Third Contact’ by the proactive Twitter campaign by writer, director Simon Horrocks. There was a real buzz about the film’s premiere at BFI Imax, especially considering the films budget was just £4,000. The successful Kick Starter campaign saw £15,000 raised to ensure distribution.
‘Third Contact’ tells the story of a psychotherapist’s investigation into the mysterious deaths of two patients. This film is mainly black and white and has the experimental feel of French New Wave films like La Jetee. The concept came from Horrocks’ interest in the Quantum Suicide theory and the film draws on themes such as mortality, madness and depression. The concept of one man battling to maintain his sanity whilst trying to uncover a mystery reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola’s art-house classic ‘The Conversation’.
To have a near sell out audience for the premiere at the BFI Imax was a major coup for such a low budget film. There was a live on-line streaming of the film and the Q&A. A live twitter feed throughout allowed people world-wide to put their questions to the director. I spoke to Horrocks and he clearly valued the role social media can play in creating a buzz and allowing him to get his project to the audience directly. He resisted video-on-demand as he was keen to create the event that is a cinema premiere which he could share world-wide online.
The film is beautifully shot and was dubbed “artistic brilliance” by The London Film Review. A bleak, shadowy landscape is created that gives a hint that all is not well in this world. The jerky hand held camera effectively represents the tormented mind of the therapist as he loses his grasp on reality. The occasional use of colour was effective in showing the happy memories of the protagonist. Interestingly the actors were asked to film these scenes as Horrocks wanted to give them an authentic home-movie feel.
As a screenwriter myself it was refreshing to see a writer/ director with no editing experience simply make and release a feature film with his basic camera. Horrocks talked of a “now or never moment” after a positive script report from the UK Film Council. He learned editing throughout the two year production and advised aspiring filmmakers to simply “get it made”. If he’d have gone down the classic route of financiers and film grants he may not have had the creative freedom to make a film that didn’t fit into any genre.
This premiere made me question whether the UK Film industry is doing enough to support emerging filmmakers like Horrocks. If you’re a fan of independent cinema I’d definitely recommend catching the next screening of ‘Third Contact’.
Follow Simon Horrocks on twitter https://twitter.com/sihorrock to get updates on upcoming screenings.
Written by Martin Stocks https://twitter.com/Stocks1986