Writer and director Edward Tracy’s most recent venture takes the form of an award-winning short film noir thriller starring Arthur Darvill and Amy Beth Hayes. Set in 'steam punk' 1940's London, the film follows an unassuming government scientist and the spy that has 'spiked' him with a love implant.
The sci-fi romantic thriller has been storming the festival circuit with an unparalleled sweep of nominations, wins and screenings at the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival, Balticon International Film Festival, Tri-Cities International Film Festival and The London Short Film Festival to name but a few.
Most recently, We Are Colony hosted a screening and Q&A of the film at The Electric cinema in Notting Hill, wherein the production and VFX crew discussed working on the project.
Edward started out his film career making Super 8 animations at the age of 11, before studying film at Central St Martins and going to work as a cameraman and editor, cutting together his own short films on the side. After a few film collaborations with Tom Hardy in the late 90’s (who we are told had aspirations to expand into a rap career back then, but was convinced otherwise by his agent), Edward met Kayvan Novak, with whom he went on to create the multi award winning Channel 4 series Fonejacker and Facejacker.
Captcha, funded by the BFI and Film 4, is his debut short as a co-writer and director. He comments, “The aim for Captcha has always been for it to be a pilot for a feature, to try and present ourselves with as many challenges as might be encountered on a full length film.
The film is a sci-fi romantic thriller. The idea of Cupid and his “love arrows” struck me as a fun basis for a thrilling love story. Any film needs an emotional core to keep me coming back again and again, unless that film is Where Eagles Dare.
I like directors who have jumped around with the types of films they make, which is why I wanted to create a sci-fi thriller. I once spluttered, “Bladerunner is amazing!” to a bemused Ridley Scott. Drunk or sober, that film is mind blowing. I’m also a huge fan of Luc Besson, so his recent Lucy was a welcome dose of the Besson we know and love.
Most sci-fi film will take you to a different reality and mix it with a concept that tells us something about ourselves, or our world.”
The Mill’s VFX team, based in London and led by Pete Hodsman and Georgina Ford, worked closely with Edward to help transport the the characters in film into the alternative reality which Edward mentioned.
The team worked on 143 VFX shots, tasked with setting the steam punked 1940's scene. Most shots were filmed on green screen, before the VFX artists then comped the live action footage onto matte paintings and textural assets created by Pete Amachree. The fully CG matte paintings depicting an old and surreal London were based on the industrial docklands, which were photographed during production at night and then added to by The Mill's VFX team.
The VFX work was almost exclusively completed in 2D (bar 3D water renders for the Thames and Dockyard scenes). The team extended sets using a combination of shot plates and matte paintings, as well as bringing Pete Amachree’s 7 conceptual matte paintings to life to create the external wide shots of London.
Ed continues ‘The Mill’s involvement has been key to realising the vision for the film. We owe it all to the VFX team! Hopefully Film4 and the BFI, who funded the film, will forgive me for that statement. But yes, I’m still pinching myself at quite how far the team went for little ol’ Eddie and his band of merry collaborators.”
Executive producer at The Mill Luke Colson says, "It was great fun working with Ed Tracy on Captcha and the whole team really enjoyed collaborating on such an original, graphic and atmospheric film. We are always looking to support quality directing talent and original short films, and I am glad we took this one on! I really think the final film is something to be proud of.”
To see the full film and other behind the scenes content visit We Are Colony, where Captcha is available to buy.