In Mark Buchanan’s previous short The Search, a lonely man fastidiously studied the heavens in the hope of making contact. Maintaining his narrative gaze on the heavens for Mission his latest film, Buchanan this time tells the story of a young boy whose contact with his astronaut father is disrupted after he’s rejected from the first manned mission to Mars and the vast emptiness of disappointment pushes him over the edge and away from his son.
Having only just emerged from under the “Virgin Mastercard with a ludicrous limit” budget used to fund The Search, Buchanan was keen to avoid another lengthy period of paying off a film in instalments. Fortunately, he was able to shore up the Mission budget with contributions from executive producers Godfrey McFall and Paul Harry Thomas, with Thomas’ company [xFilm] also stepping in to take on the bulk of the post production work. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Digital Film and Television course (from which Buchanan had graduated in 2005) were also willing to loan the production a Red Epic and other essential equipment, as well as students past and present making themselves available to work on the film, making the decision to shoot in Glasgow a no brainer.
A friendship with Emun Elliott from their shared Royal Conservatoire days saw the actor signed up as the father Michael a full year before the cameras rolled. For the pivotal role of James the 7 year old lead, Buchanan selected first time actor Peter Strathern from a pool of 20 children. Although unexperienced, Strathern had a natural air to his delivery and was willing to take direction unlike some of the more ‘actorly’ children.
As is evident from the film, production design was always going to be a major challenge for the production, but it was a challenge that Andrew Wilson and his team were more than able to rise to “for literally nae money.” A first and lengthy (32 minutes) pre-Christmas assembly of the film was further refined by editor Chris Newcombe post holidays after Buchanan had solicited feedback from 10 close confidants. Mission’s complex soundscape of multiples layers of audio was wrangled by Nick Olsouzidas, with Gregor Barclay (who also wrote the film) and Gavin Thomson combining forces to compose the original score. A few final visual tweaks and a grade later and Mission was finally ready to embark on its internet voyage.
Buchanan is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for Track – a short film set in the 70s that charts the adventures of a group of Londoners who find themselves on a convoluted adventure to hunt down a song they’ve become obsessed with. If you’ve liked his work so far then be sure to head over, watch the pitch video and pledge you support.