BEHIND THE SCENES: How to Make a Micro-Budget Action Film With Minimal Resources
Written by Simon Wyndham
The Silencer is one of the earliest examples of a British martial arts action thriller, and it was shot mostly on a humble Canon XM1. RedShark News twisted Simon Wyndham’s arm to make him tell us all about it and discovers that not all your closet skeletons should remain hidden:
Once upon a time I used to be involved in low budget indie film productions. Not the sort of film production that had swarms of crew around a really nicely rigged up camera with digital clapperboards and high resolution monitors all over the place. But the sorts of production that guys like RedShark’s resident DP Neil Oseman cut their teeth on like Soul Searcher, which I was also involved in.
In between the day-to-day video jobs it made for a great distraction, and in fact helped me a lot in my development as a camera monkey. You learn a lot when you’ve not much to work with.
Those were the days when standard definition ruled, and vast swathes of people still watched television on small 4:3 TVs, although in the UK 16:9 screens were common. Most of them still the CRT variety. DVDs were in full swing however, but the choice of camera for the budding Steven Spielberg was small. One of the weapons of choice for corporate work back then was the XL1S and its smaller sibling, the XM1. By 2004 even these cameras were long in the tooth, but they kept plodding along.
By this point I had my beloved 2/3” bad boy XDCAM camera, which was revolutionary at the time and produced far and away a much better picture than the Canon. It was a ‘proper’ camera with a ‘real’ lens, and it even had ‘real’ 25p. But the movie that I had started work on had begun life on an XM1 with an anamorphic lens attachment, because both Steve Lawson and I had one of these cameras each. It was an absolute pig of a rig that I despise to this day, with its limited zoom through and inability to hold focus. The digital film in question was called “The Silencer”, co-directed by both myself and Steve, and starring a chap by the name of Glenn Salvage and actress Maye Choo, both of whom have gone on to much bigger and better things.
We all have skeletons in the closet, and so here is the story of one of mine.
Image credit: Creativ Studios