In recent years we’ve watched Institute For Eyes (Joseph Bull & Luke Seomore) move from feature documentary Isolation to the non-narrative installation piece Solace, so it’s no surprise to find they’ve once again set their sights on a different area of the filmmaking tapestry with coming of age drama The First Dead Lies. We asked Luke to tell us more about their latest venture.
“The idea for the film was exploring that space between youth and adulthood. Everything is hypersensitive, hyperreal. That particular time within an adolescence’s life when their innocence is gradually lost. We loved the idea of a situation that subtly focused on death and how it would effect each member of a group of friends and that most of them wouldn’t care. But for one of the character’s it would really haunt them.”
Working with casting director Kharmel Cochrane, Institute For Eyes were able to find three excellent non-professionals from a South London school, even with the near threat of expulsion almost robbing them of an actor. However, they had to expand their search in order to complete the film’s quartet:
“We couldn’t find the central character; who needed a special sensitivity and empathy. Kharmel mentioned Michael Ajao, who appeared in Attack the Block. We met with him, he was really inquisitive and intelligent. Myself and Joe cast him the next day.”
With the human cast members in place, it was just a matter of securing the unfortunately deceased vulpine:
“The fox was from a taxidermist who lived in Surbiton, he had a enthusiastic dog and liked to listen to Coldplay very loudly. It was heartbreaking to see the small fragile body of the fox in this engulfing landscape, but it didn’t seem to move the young cast, they just though it was disgusting.”
The First Dead Lies was shot over a single day at the height of the UK Summer heat last August on the Alexia. Working from a script, but no storyboards, the pair once again teamed up with regular DoP David Procter and a small crew on the edgelands of East London and Essex, near their childhood homes.
“There was little post production, edit and grade. Edward Line at Final Cut, edited the film. It was our second film together, so we had built a relationship and he did a beautiful job. I’ve composed all music on our previous films, it’s interesting to have that insight to the mood on set, so when I started to write the score all those tones were weaved into the tracks. In January as part of London Short Film Festival, I played a live soundtrack version of the film with musician Michael Garrad. It was shown with Solace, which also explores the lives of teenagers in East London.”