Filmmaking During Lockdown: An Interview with Carl Strathie and Charlette Kilby
by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow
Director, Carl Strathie and Producer, Charlette Kilby are the team behind Yorkshire-made films Solis and Dark Encounter. Here, they discuss their next movie; working during lockdown, and choose which franchise they’d rather work on: 007 or Star Wars…
Hello Carl and Charlette. Is the lockdown allowing time to fine tune your next movie, The Evil in Me?
Charlette: Hi. It’s weird because more time (for preparation) is always preferable. We were literally in a position to start shooting. We still have two more cast members to cast, allowing us to spend more time with people we have the offers out on. And if they say no, we have more time to rethink and re-cast.
Carl: We pushed (back) a month, so we were going to shoot in June. We’re now going to shoot in July. But obviously that might push again. I might talk to a few of the cast members we’ve got already, because you worry about things going stale. Our production designer might do a polish on some of the sets. All we’ve got to do is build the interior of a house. I might send the DP (director of photography) links to films to watch and I’ll send him storyboards so he can maybe do an early shot list of his own, and I can go over it with him on Skype. Then I might work on (the script for) whatever it is… film four.
“Music is the soul of the film”
What can you tell us about The Evil in Me?
Carl: It’s about a trio of women who are trying to apprehend a serial killer who taxidermies his victims. It’s a serial killer movie; it’s a psychological thriller; there’s a horror element. It’s like Silence of the Lambs, Prisoners and What Lies Beneath. There’s no supernatural element or sci-fi. It’s set in the real world. We can’t talk about the cast just in case an actor can’t do it.
David Stone Hamilton’s scores are phenomenal. Are you working with him again?
Carl: Yes, we’ll hopefully always be working with David. That’s another thing I’ve been doing, having lots of chats with David and have been sharing soundtracks and certain pieces of music. David is actually very close to nailing what the soundtrack will be. That’s nice to be able to do to marry up the themes, because obviously the music is the soul of the film. Some actors like to hear the music, and when I tell them it’s actually a sketch piece from David who will be doing the score, it gives them confidence.
Cinematographer Bart Sienkewicz is also very gifted. Is he back on board?
Charlette: Yes. We’re just trying to get as many people as we had on Dark Encounter on this really.
Carl: Dark Encounter was very ’Ambliny’, so it probably still has a bit of that (Spielberg) vibe, but a lot more real world.
“I can die happy now”
Where is it set, what’s the period and where are you shooting?
Carl: We’re setting it in America again. I suppose we’re going for that New England way again. We don’t know where we’re shooting yet, but it’s set in present day.
It must have been a quantum leap going from the one actor and one set of Solis to a bigger project like Dark Encounter.
Charlette: Yeah, we went straight into pre-production while we were still in post for Solis. It was such a big leap. In the beginning we had a bigger budget than what we anticipated, but one of the investors fell through, so we had to do a lot of creative jiggery with the script, because it was a lot bigger than what Dark Encounter is. There were extra characters, loads more scenes, and a different storyline as well.
Carl: For me, personally, Dark Encounter was like a dream in terms of film making. I can die happy now. That’s why I’m happy on set all the time because I’m grateful for anything that I get to do.
How are you coping with lockdown?
Carl: I get asthma, and I never quite recovered when I was ill on Dark Encounter. I can’t take in as much oxygen as I used to. We’ve decided if one of us gets it, I’ll probably get it.
Charlette: I don’t feel a lot’s changed really. We live in a state of semi-isolation anyway. Going to Tesco… down here, we’re only allowed one person, per household, per trolley. So I’m like the hunter-gatherer. I know what to get to survive. It’s like Mad Max going to the supermarket. You have to don all this equipment to keep yourself safe. It’s really scary. I don’t like it. It gives me anxiety.
“I love the chemistry”
Hypothetical question: Lucasfilm offers you Star Wars: Episode 10 on the same day you’re offered the next 007 movie. Which do you go for?
Carl: I love Star Wars much more than James Bond, but I want to see Bond go in a different direction now, because we’ve had Daniel Craig real-world stuff. I’d get Michael Fassbender, and do an old school James Bond; a film set in the sixties. Really back to old roots. Star Wars I prefer though. That’s the only reason I’m here (as a film maker).
Charlette: Yeah, it’s an opportunity to cover new ground with Star Wars I feel. When that happens you have a Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) situation. I’ve heard the Ian Fleming estate is quite controlling in terms of creativity. Sam Mendes said it was gruelling to work on Bond films because of their control over the material.
Final question: you can have a few films or TV shows for a desert island. What would they be?
Carl: The episode of Lost when they build a raft (laughs). Jurassic Park, The Shining, or Lord of the Rings as a whole. They’d keep me happy.
Charlette: Definitely Death Becomes Her, which is my favourite film of all time. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, because that makes me happy. Mad Max: Fury Road, and Silence of the Lambs. I love the chemistry between Clarice and Hannibal Lecter. I could watch those two all the time. She lives in a man’s world and she really knows her stuff, but she’s afraid to say it. I love the scene in the autopsy room and she says to the cops: “Go on now,” and they look at her as if ’We’re being told by a woman!’ They all just reluctantly leave, and I just love that. She just wants to get on and do her job and I feel that.
Carl: Yeah, she’s on the verge of becoming an FBI agent, and with you being a film producer (on your first movie)… Solis was your Buffalo Bill.
‘Solis’ can be seen on Netflix, ‘Dark Encounter’ is on Amazon Prime