Michael’s new film

Michael Henry has told us he has completed post-production on his third feature film.

“I Work” will be screened in the Cargill Lecture Theatre, 7.30pm on 9 December.

When I wrote my last post for the alumni blog, in March 2010, I had completed my first feature film, three viral adverts and was about to commence filming my short ‘Modern Waste’ trilogy. Eighteen months later, I’ve completed the short film trilogy and have also now completed two more feature-length films.

The first, ‘Restless Dust’, follows a lonesome film restorer, attempting to pick up the pieces after a car accident, who connects with a woman from his building. Struggling to deal with her over-possessive husband, their lives become increasingly entangled, and as her husband’s jealousy builds, so too does the threat of violence.

I shot the film on my own HD camera, mostly in one location, with three main characters, on weekends and weeday nights, whilst working mornings at my job. The budget of £500 was spent sparingly, on props and travel expenses. The experience for me was a great one; giving me a chance to improve my directing and acting simultaneously. Since the release of ‘Restless Dust’ I haven’t had a single negative response to it, and have made back the budget, plus a substantial amount more (the money allowed me to buy a better camera for my most recent feature).

My decision to self-distribute through my site came from past-experience with my first feature film ‘Ennui’. When you’re making films with little-to-no budget you are by and large on your own when it comes to publicity and distribution. I knew when I first started writing ‘Restless Dust’ that it wouldn’t be a remarkable, beautifully shot masterpiece, which would be heralded because of its originality. I wanted to make a solid social-realist drama, where I could focus on character and performance, completely disregarding expectations and just improve my skills. From the get-go ‘Restless Dust’ was an experiment, which was for me a great success. I don’t see financial gain or acclaim as a measure of success. Having felt pleased with just parts of ‘Ennui’, I needed to feel that I had made something I was proud of, and I did. I think the performances are incredible and the story is strong. The only thing letting the film down at this point was the technical side.

So when ‘Restless Dust’ was over, I took some of the profits from the film and bought a new camera, plus some accessories to improve sound quality when filming outdoors. This time round we were set on the technical side, and I was more than confident with my abilities as a filmmaker. I wrote the script over six weeks, starting in May, began pre-production in June, and shot it July. I took a break for a month in August to travel Australia, but as soon as I returned I went straight into post-production. So the overall time-scale for the film has been about six months. Although it has been the shortest I’ve spent on a film, I feel it is the best thing I have ever made. The shoot was great fun, I am very, very proud of the final film, and believe it is set to have a great future.

‘I WORK’ is an existential comedy (my first comedy since our National Royal Television Society award-winning sketch show ‘Best Friends That Love Each Other’). The story follows a confused anarchist and his workaholic housemate, as they set out to find an estranged parent. But the two get more than they bargained for, when an accident along the way reveals wires beneath their skin.

Since the last blog entry I’ve been working mornings in a media and communications role at a Lincoln-based charity. The flexibility and limited amount of hours I work have meant that I could make my projects a reality. I had considered moving from Lincoln to a bigger city to find a job as an editor or camera assistant, but I am glad I didn’t, as my current situation has allowed me to make the films I want, when I want.

At my production company, Quandary Productions, we hope our own work output inspires future generations to do it themselves, and not be put off by a lack of funding. We also feel it is integral that people are encouraged to showcase their work at an early stage, to get the public watching, showing the many emerging talents, to boost confidence in the filmmaker’s ability, and help out as much as possible along the way.

Hopefully we can build a filmmaking community to show each other’s work, offer advice, and maybe even find future collaborators. On my website, there is a recommendations section to promote other no-budget filmmakers and fellow comedians. Earlier this year we also held a short-film competition to encourage others to make and showcase their work, which was a great success. I’ve also starred in numerous comedy sketches and other short films since, whilst working on writing my fourth feature film (an anti-romantic comedy) in my free time.

Next year I will be travelling South-East Asia for Seven months. When I get back I’m planning to promote ‘I WORK’ to the point where people are sick of hearing about it, get started on my fourth feature film, and also work on a series of comedy sketches.

The first official screening of ‘I WORK’ will be taking place 7:30pm at the Cargill Lecture Theatre, University of Lincoln, on Friday December 9th. All are welcome to come see the film free of charge, but should be warned that the film contains nudity, strong language, and scenes of comic violence (as every good farce should). DVDs will be on sale after the screening.

Michael’s previous posts

View the trailer on Michael Henry Film