‘Pvt. Craine’ dir. Ben Mallaby

Pvt. Craine finds the body of his sargeant after a bombing. The events that follow take a dark turn

Writer-Director: Ben Mallaby
1st AD: Lex Beckett
VFX: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Key Cast: Tom Craine, Dan Antopolski, Nat Luurtsema

C8: Where did the idea for ‘Pvt. Craine’ come from?

BM: We came up the punch-line first, then we just had to create as unpleasant a situation as possible for the first half. The war idea was just so we could play with the genres a little

C8: From start to finish how long did the whole process take?

BM: About a month, we shot it in a day and it was one of those rare painless edits

C8: If you did it all again what would you do differently?

BM: I really wanted a laugh on the reveal but it never happens there, I’m sure I could make the hypnotist reveal clearer if I could reshoot that sequence (people on chairs asleep behind her, a big banner proclaiming Nat as a hypnotist etc)

C8: In ‘Timeholes’ you use visual effects. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have never used special effects before?

BM: I’d noticed that people really seem to respond to VFX in low budget films so I try to factor something into each script now, I’ve been teaching myself After Effects but it is a tough nut to crack, I’d advise making the effect shots simple, using the online tutorials or (like I did for Timeholes) asking people online to help out. I’d seen some work from Berry Cinema that had really impressed me and they were happy to come on board for the shoot. But it definitely helps to be teaching yourself as well, then know how best to shoot for it.

C8: Toby Williams and Paul F. Taylor wrote ‘Timeholes’. How did you come across their script and what made you want to direct it?

BM: Timeholes was an idea I had while driving somewhere. I remember it vividly, if time travel existed of course guys on stag do’s would abuse it. I asked Toby and Paul to write it up and got a 30 page script back. We decided to shoot the opening and now we’re planning on developing a series for TV based in that world

C8: Funding shorts can be quite difficult. How did you fund both films?

BM: Both films cost less than £20, I don’t count on having money so I just think about what I have access to. I’m also lucky enough to have a group of collaborators who help me out

C8: How do you cast your films?

BM: Tom Craine introduced me to most of comedians I now work with. Comedians are brilliant collaborators, they tend to be natural actors and as the writers they’re invested in the film. Otherwise I use recommendations, I don’t think I’ve ever held an audition, I just go with people I get a good vibe about

C8: What has the reaction to both films been like?

BM: The reaction to Pvt. Craine surprised us all, it’s played at a crazy number of festivals and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it’s been received. We’re hoping for the same from Timeholes

C8: Where do ‘Pvt. Craine’ and ‘Timeholes’ sit in your career? What have you done since?

BM: They’re the shorter ones, I have longer comedies Island Queen and Battlecock! and a feature length thriller I just finished. But I’ve only been doing this 3 years properly, I feel like I’m only just getting started

C8: If you could give young filmmakers a piece of advice what would it be?

BM: Go to festivals, watch short films, surprise the audience and be ambitious.

C8: In your opinion what is the essence of a good collaboration?

BM: Work with people who you respect, positive people who bring as much to the table as you do, and it helps if you enjoy their company

C8: What is next for Ben Mallaby? Will you continue making shorts?

BM: We’re halfway through financing our first feature called Annie Has Body Issues. We should shoot late January