When amateur director Spencer Hawken announced his zero budget project Death Walks last month people had reservations about his project ever getting off the ground. Hawken secured Romford's The Mercury Mall, some quality actors, and additional cast and crew of 200 individuals. What was different was that Hawken had secured all this for no cost, then put a further time limitation on the project.
"When I realised that i was asking people to give up their valuable time for nothing, it felt wrong to do anything other than put a timeframe on things." said Spencer "The year had suffered some pig awful weather, even our mini summer burst in May came at a cost, I felt it would be safe to film the movie over one night, given the script i'd written. But what i'd not thought about was what if the weather changed. So at 3.30am we were seeing the sky lighten up, the heating increase and make-up effects falling apart due to the extreme heat."
The result was that time had to be called on the movie, it's future possibly in peril. But each and every person involved simply had to reassure Spencer that they would be back. "It was the quality of the photography, the beauty of the rushes, we had expectations obviously, but the movie without even a touch of editing looks beautiful. It's soppy to say but when I saw one of the scenes in which one of our cast meets something unexpected in the dead of night, it bought a tear to my eye. I never in my wildest dreams believed this movie would look so beautiful." Continued Spencer.
To ensure time is spent well, and the quality is not effected Spencer has set up a four night shoot schedule, and broken up the remaining scenes into bite size chunks. What this means however is that between The Mercury donating their centre, and cast and crew returning on a number of occasions, Spencer has secured a production value of at least half a million pounds, for a zero cost.
Actress Lucinda Rhodes is generally someone who can command a respectable fee, having a plethora of acting and producing credits under her belt "I'm committed to this project, it has to be finished however many shoots it takes. What Spencer has pulled off here is amazing, it's a good story that I simply could not put down, of course I want to remain part of it."
From top to bottom, everyone has committed to return to the project, this includes the strong army of Make-Up artists lead by Cat Forsyth. And camera crew's directed by Frazer Loveman and Marcus Uthup.
Frazer Loveman main camera on the night was modest about the quality of his footage "Our lighting guy Dave Bird really made magic happen, the film looks beautiful because of his lighting" But vision is not everything as Frazer continued "Nathan Smardina and James Whiston caught some amazing sound, it's the whole mix that will make this look and sound so great."
Death Walks is set in a shopping centre during the middle of the night, it's a zombie movie but with a shocking, unexpected twist. It's an ensemble piece with a mix of talents from the very new, to actors of many years all taking equal length roles. Filming will continue into mid August, with a plan to release the movie onto the festival circuit next year.