‘Two Men & A Car Park’ dir. Federico Forcolini

Just Another day staffing an underground car park. Two ordinary men share an extraordinary responsibility. it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

Writer-Director: Federico Forcolini
DOP: Ben Spence
Editor: Federico Forcolini
Key Cast: Mark Benton, Nigel Betts

C8: Where did the idea for ‘Two Men & A Car Park’ come from?

FF: Chiefly from the accumulated hours spent over the years roaming the various levels of underground car parks in search of where I left my car. I was always struck by the eerie atmosphere and maze-like quality of these places, giving way to flights of fantasy involving demonic forces and ordinary people like me trying to reach their vehicles in one piece.

I’m also attracted to combining fantasy with the mundane, the contrast can lead to engaging and entertaining results. It got me thinking about the staff that work in car parks and how utterly menial and tedious their jobs appear, and how in general what we perceive on the surface can often leads us to make shallow assumptions about people.  So my intention with the script became to set up such an assumption and then subvert it.

C8: From beginning to end what was the most difficult part of the shoot and how long did it all take?

FF: The script took a couple of weeks, pre-production was another couple of weeks, the shoot was a day and postproduction was again another couple of weeks - a total of about six weeks.

The hardest part was finding a suitable underground car park - one that didn’t cost the earth, had all the facilities we required, had an extra office we could use as our staff’s office, was already lit well enough to not require additional lighting (a budget and time restraint) and had enough free space and levels that would avoid the crew and the car park’s customers getting in each others way.

Dealing with NCP’s location agency was no breeze either. As soon as I explained it was a non-commercial production, and that we had limited finances, they strung me along under the false pretense of a hefty discount. Then they only confirming the location at the very last minute - the afternoon before the shoot was scheduled, and on the condition I pay the full hiring fee. Praise the lord for Mastercard.

C8: How did you go about casting the film?

FF: Always had Mark Benton in mind for one of the characters and then a Spotlight search lead me to Nigel Betts for the older, wiser part. As the shoot was only one day I based it on Mark’s availability and was lucky enough that it suited Nigel.

For the Minotaur I asked a close mate of my brother-in-law’s who is 6’5” and into bodybuilding.

The couple that get kidnapped are my mate and my missus.

C8: How do you work with actors before the shoot? Do you have any specific rehearsal methods?

FF: Had absolutely no time for pre-shoot rehearsals. We spoke in some detail over the phone and they then turned up on location and delivered like the professionals that they are.

C8: What advice would you give to filmmakers working with actors for the first time?

FF: It very much depends on the experience of the actors. Either way do not at any point attempt to micro manage your actors – the good ones will hate you for it and the not so good ones will be stifled into performance rigor mortis.

Allow the actors to play out their own interpretation of the scene, then with every consecutive take gently nudge them closer to your vision. This way you might well discover better alternatives to the performance you preempted.

C8: What camera did you shoot on and why did you choose that camera?

FF: Shot on the Red One with Red Primes. I love the look and the grading scope of RAW footage shot on this camera. We also intended to shoot with predominantly ambient light and therefore high ISOs producing quite a bit of noise. We therefore wanted a camera that showed up noise in a way similar to film grain.

Primarily however the choice was budget driven - the DOP owned both the camera and the lenses.

C8: You also edited the film. Were there any scenes that you found difficult to cut or anything you didn’t include?

FF: To cram everything in a day we had to have a tight shooting ratio. To this end we worked off a well planned shot list which in turn made for a pretty smooth editing experience.

C8: If you did the whole process again is there anything you would change the second time around?

FF: I’d try and have more time to scout the location, and not allow the agency to get me over a barrel on it.

C8: What are your favourite shorts and why do these stand out for you?

FF: Too many to list. Generally any short that jars your expectations or makes you laugh or provokes you to think differently about a subject gets my vote.

C8: What has been the best piece of advice about filmmaking that you have received?

FF: It is all about the story. Research your subject and rewrite that script until it gleams, only then begin.

Also, not specifically about film, but a guiding light of a quote for all creative types: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” (Goethe)