2012 was a very productive time for Turtle Canyon Films. It was officially formed to make sure the Turtles were all creatively challenged and pushed to make films that we care about, get excited by and wanted the world to see. It also enabled us to work with new and exciting talent, people that we believed in and saw a future of working together on new, bigger and even better films. Last year we finished four short films and started production on two more; this year has seen another short film completed and two others in pre-production. These are exciting times for Turtle Canyon and we wanted to tell you more about FRANK – a short film that has just entered the festival circuit.
In early 2012 Ben Target, an award-winning stand-up comedian, got in touch with Stuart at Turtle Canyon to assess his interest in producing a short film written by himself and Joe Parham, a sketch comedian. By May 2012 that film was being shot on an extremely windy day in Finsbury Park, North London. FRANK fits perfectly into Turtle Canyon’s ethos and style of film they want to make: it’s a sweet and neat story, would be a collaborative process and represented an exciting start to a new working relationship with two very talented people.
Stuart started producing the film by meeting up with Ben & Joe and getting a clearer picture of quite what they saw the film being. From that point, with the help of those two, he mapped out a shooting schedule, a list of crew, props and locations as well as a clear process of how production would proceed. The only major expenses on production were the first location: Finsbury Park on a Sunday, and food. Food is an essential part of any budget and should not be skimped on. The creation, central to the plot of the film was designed and constructed by Ben, using objects that he found or recovered from bins, skips and hedgerows – a key part of the feeling of the film.
The day of the shoot was hectic, with daylight hours spent in Finsbury Park and the evening at a house location. The scenes of the film were to be shot out of sequence, and as the film takes place over two days it meant that Marie Bourel, the make up artist, had to stay on top of which look each actor had to be made up as for each scene being shot. Add to this a changeable day of weather (including a hailstorm and extremely blustery conditions) and it made for a challenging shoot, a fact that DoP Anton McCrae didn’t let anyone forget. The subsequent evening shoot in a house was plain sailing after the daytime battle with nature and members of the public staring into the lens.
Post-production took place back at Turtle Canyon and an assembly edit was completed by Stuart before a meeting between Ben, Joe and Al Clayton, the co-editor and composer of the film, was called to clarify elements of the story, edit and visuals. A month of adjustments, shooting pick ups and fine-tuning details led to picture lock and the next stage began: sound and music. FRANK is a film with no dialogue and a very distinct look and feel so music and sound design are absolute keys to the films success. The production was lucky to secure James Wichall as sound designer because he dedicated a huge amount of time and focus to really capturing the mood of the film through sound. The film plays from the perspective of the main character, Frank, and the sound design reflects that, with exaggerated effects that suggest we’re hearing precisely what he is hearing. The music was another key aspect and a variety of styles were tried before Al produced the exact piece required, creating a distinctive and emotional heart to the film.
Ben & Joe were asked a few questions by Turtle Canyon about their thoughts on the production:
What excites you about making a film?
Telling a story, and the challenge of doing it well. The process of making and sharing that journey of exploration and discovery. Increasing my levels of pretention.
What scared you about making a film?
We want to make films. Wrecking reputations; wasting people’s time; having a weak idea, developing it poorly and failing to tell the story well are possibilities. We courted failure with that blind faith reserved for mavericks and newcomers.
What was the production process like?
It was fascinating and fun; an aim of FRANK was to begin learning how to make films and we feel compelled to continue. Everyone’s commitment to the project and care for its outcome is inspiring. This was Zen ensemble work.
What did Turtle Canyon offer to the process?
That professional edge! (Without which Joe and I would still be wandering Finsbury Park trying to work a light meter.) They proved key in the existing realisation of FRANK, patiently guiding us across a plain previously being navigated by lunatic guesswork. TCM embraced the project to the obsessive extent we did and I’m glad because we’re incredibly proud of the outcome.
Now the film is finished it has been submitted to some of the biggest film festivals in the world and, thanks to the story, beautiful performances from Natalie and Kieran, and international appeal of a love story told without dialogue, should enjoy great success on the film festival circuit and beyond. Turtle Canyon are very proud of the film and can’t wait for the world to see it. To find out more please visit our mini-site for the film at www.turtlecanyonmedia.com/frank or have a watch of the making of featurette below:
Our goal is to produce shorts, features and documentaries of the highest quality, working in collaboration with the best writers, directors and actors that we know or are yet to meet.