Cyberlante - an 'indie' film on the limit

James Smith reflects on CYBERLANTE, a feature film shot in the Midlands (UK), which is entering the latter stages of post-production and will have its preview screening early this year in Loughborough.

We secured a tiny budget to pay for a few locations and some catering when embarking on the project. This enabled us to gather a small team of actors and crew to make a film, which we believed would make for a slick and captivating thriller despite the budgetary constraints. No sooner had we started, however, than a certain crew member (with buddy) decided to depart the project in an odd fluster. Clearly, this person was ill-equipped to work in our team and was better gone. This also meant, however, that some vital camera gear would disappear. Our minuscule budget was now further diminished.

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Having been involved in many creative projects, I'm familiar with such crises, but recovering this one would require a stretch of the imagination, since many locations and actors had been booked. Those dates were now out of question, and the schedule collapsed like a line of dominoes.

Shelve the project and move on, or play the game of rapid regroup and recovery? I'm not wired to give in, nor were the core group of people who stuck by my side in the dark hours. Decision made: we rewrite, regroup, and begin shooting in ten days' time.

Game on.

What followed was testament to the creative talent and foresight of the new and remaining team members of Cyberlante, a rebooted version, which would employ smartphone technology to shoot the feature rapidly, in real locations - hotels, out in the street, apartments - with virtually no cash.

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I initially considered the rebooted version as 'experimental', since it was very much written on the fly and often improvised by the actors - I was never sure that it would hold up as a feature film in terms of story-telling narrative. Now it's January 2020, and I'm happy to report that the film very much holds up at 80 minutes duration and will be a fantastic asset for 'indie' film-making in Loughborough and the Midlands.

There are beautiful shots of the local town and countryside and the film (for want of a better description, a kind of cyber-crime buddy movie!) provided opportunities for actors, crews, businesses, and enthusiasts from many different backgrounds to become involved. We're now finding that people are intrigued and inspired - how on earth did we shoot a full narrative feature film on a smartphone with practically no funding or conventional film industry support?

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The answer to that is: we only just pulled it off. But, we did, and now those involved can reap the benefits at the preview screening this year, which is guaranteed to be one of the hottest tickets in town!

Keep up to date and sign-up for e-news on The Official Cyberlante Website

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Article by James Smith, writer and director