Sitting in the oh-so elegant Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, all comfy in my plush red arm chair I began to examine the ‘Top Secret’ documents I had been given.
The documents in question related to CAPTCHA, the award winning steampunk film-noir short directed by Edward Tracy that I was about to be immersed in. Two genres I had never dreamed could go together, this film combined stunning visual effects with 15 minutes of non stop thrills. A SIN CITY crossed with DOUBLE INDEMNITY, the story took the theme of being hit by cupids arrow and turned it into something much more sinister. Set in a dystopian 1940s London and starring Arthur Darvill and Amy Beth Hayes, this little gem of a movie transports you into an alternative reality twisting love and evil together, whilst winding through the dark and cretinous streets of the Big Smoke.
Funded by the BFI and Film4 The most striking thing about this short yet dense film was the graphics. The director and Luke Coleson (VFX producer) spoke at length about the intensely detailed matte painting (done by Pete Amachree) and the effects that enabled this world to be possible. You wouldn’t know it from watching these vastly grandiose scenes that they were nearly all filmed in a small green screen room, with everything added afterwards but the VFX wizards at The Mill. To say the visual effects of this film are close to genius is an understatement. It was for this reason that I imagine the film was left coloured, rather than rendered black and white. I understand the intention however I feel for this genre, it would have had more dramatic impact had the film stayed truer to it’s thematic roots. Other small pieces I took issue with (such as the makeup) are small prices to pay for such an innovative and modern piece of cinema. Watching, I could really see the potential, and see how great these themes and ideas could be were they stretched even further. I for one do not envy the visual effects team that will have to tackle that no doubt monster of a task.
CAPTCHA and some juicy behind the scenes features are available on We Are Colony, a digital viewing platform that allows you to watch great films from award winning filmmakers. If CAPTCHA doesn’t really sound like your cup of tea (though, you should probably watch it anyway) check out some of the other excellent work on this incredibly diverse site.