Student-crewed film released for streaming
06 April 2021
Wilderness, written by Falmouth associate professor Neil Fox and crewed almost entirely by Falmouth students studying both BA and MA Film and Television courses, is now available to stream across major digital platforms.
Intimately depicting the fresh romance of jazz fan Alice and touring jazz musician John during an impulsive coastal getaway, the film has continued to gain momentum since its 2017 creation. Having picked up both international and domestic acclaim at film festivals, Wilderness is available to download and stream from the Sky Store, Amazon, and Google.
The film, which was funded by Falmouth’s School of Film & Television, was created as part of an innovative micro-budget filmmaking model that Neil developed alongside long-time collaborator Justin John Doherty. The model facilitates opportunities for students to regularly work on low-budget professional projects. As Neil tells us, “no-one’s ever done this before. But we’ve never believed that a lack of money should mean a lack of imagination or a lack of quality.”
Anyone who watches Neil’s debut feature will see that this statement holds true. Wilderness more than stands its ground when compared to films with far bigger budgets. The film is beautifully produced, full of incisive dialogue and features outstanding performances from lead actors Katherine Davenport and James Barnes. And incredibly, the film was shot in less than two weeks.
“People had an idea of what we might make for that amount of money and that amount of time”, Neil recalls. “When they saw it, they were impressed and realised that it can be something more ambitious than two people sitting in a room.”
Behind director Justin John Doherty’s camera, it was Falmouth students who were pulling many of the strings. Students worked as camera assistants, production assistants, sound recordists, boom operators and location coordinators amongst other roles.
“Ultimately, the experience for the students was what funded the project,” Neil tells us. “There were over 30 students involved on the film at various times. Showing the students how independent films are made, by actually making one, and bringing them on set, is incredibly valuable… there are so many things you can do in a classroom, but there are limitations.
“It’s why we make so many films in the school and why we try to involve students with as many productions as possible. It’s peer learning in a way that is so meaningful.”
As well as involving students heavily in the project, Neil also collaborated with colleagues at Falmouth to help fill in the gaps left by his budget. “One of the gaps was sound. We didn’t really have anyone available who could do it. Jem Mackay, who is a sound technician and lecturer at Falmouth, came in on the project and worked for us for two weeks which was unbelievable.”
Senior lecturer Rosa Mulvaney also stepped in to help iron out the visual effects. As Neil recalls “The film is set in the late 60’s, so it became clear that we’d need a lot of masking of modern things like satellite dishes. Rosa acted as the VFX supervisor and put together a team of her students to eliminate those modern appliances.”
The final result of these collaborations, according to The Guardian, is “rather lovely, a talky cine-literate portrait of a new relationship set in the 1960s… (that) plays out in absorbing emotional detail.”