Discovering several great locations whilst on a shoot, director Shane Sheils worked backwards to create a script that would exploit them to the fullest. Marrying his dislike of the corporate office job to an Invasion of the Body Snatchers theme, The Darkside is a classic tale of a free spirit hunted down by a steadily growing body of mindless, conformist drones.
Calling on talent he’d used in the past for the lead and sourcing the crew from various internet resources, Sheils was looking forward to a trouble-free shoot when at 9pm the day before he received a call from his DP that mentioned a chilling combination of the words “dropped” “bath” and “camera”. With everything in place for the next day, a panicked Sheils made several emergency phone calls and against the odds managed to find a DP with camera who was free to work at 8am the following morning, all for zero pay. Thanks to Sheils’ meticulous storyboarding and the fact that natural lighting had always been the plan, the replacement DP was able to get up to speed very quickly and grab all the shots Sheils need over the two-day shoot. The production even got its own set-security from a friendly homeless man who insisted on helping out when he found them shooting in his alley.
Being a completely zero budget short, Sheils completed the edit on his own home system, deciding the try out Magix Edit Movie Pro 2004, which offered several professional and easy to use features for its low price. As good as he found the package it was unable to help him when a fire next door blew all his fuses, killing his computer in the process. After calming down and rebuilding the project, Sheils desaturated the picture and created the foley for The Darkside with co-producer Paula Sheils.
The team’s hard work has paid off, with The Darkside receiving a warm welcome upon its screening at festivals. Shane and Paula have since gone on to create the 3d short To Shoot a Rurf through their production company Dwarfed Films, which Shane took us through in episode 30 of the podcast.
– Originally published in Showreel, Issue 6 (Winter 2004)