St Albans movie maker to hit film festival circuit with new thriller
17:06 23 February 2016
When the red carpet is rolled out at international film festivals this year, a St Albans writer and director may well be making an appearance alongside established and budding stars.
Shaun Robert Smith and Craig Conway have produced an intense and dark psychological thriller The Myth of Hopelessness which, they hope, will be a hit on the festival circuit.
Originally trained as a prosthetics make-up artist, Shaun’s foray into film-making was fostered some years ago when he was producing cosmetic camouflage, wigs and costume design.
The combination of being a movie fanatic and having a love of creative writing encouraged him to shift gear and switch to writing and directing.
As Shaun, 37, explains: “The industry has changed so much, that it is easier for independent films now to raise money. But, it makes you work harder to put the money to the best possible use.”
He has been involved in many independent productions over the past decade, including a film short listed for the London Short Film Festival, The Soldier, which he wrote and directed.
Myth is his debut feature film as a director and Craig’s first solely produced production - it apparently took just 52 hours to raise the £100,000 needed to make the film, which was shot in July last year.
It was developed, financed and shot within the space of 10 weeks.
Shaun said: “We pulled in some favours, and assembled one of the best teams. It was the most fun, making this film, but we knew what we were doing and that we had a great story, and had superb actors who have devoted themselves to their roles.”
He described it as a “unique, dark, intense British indie film. It looks stunning and the performances are truly amazing”.
Myth is based on a short story by Shaun, A Carer’s Tale, that focuses on his experiences caring for people with spinal cord injuries.
He explained: “The job is both physically and mentally demanding, with long hours and low pay.
“Carers are there as an extension of the client’s arms and legs; they are there for every call, any time of the day or night.”
The film, penned by both men, tells the story of a young woman, Evie (Morjana Alaoui), who escapes her past and absconds to England in search of a new life. She takes a job caring for a tetraplegic, acted by Mel Raido, but the burden of her job stirs up her past.
Shaun said: “I was a carer in Nottingham, and I went through a tonne of jobs when trying to get my film career going. Spinal cord injuries are incredibly frustrating for the person with the injuries, to have someone come into their house and do their personal care for them.
“For the film, I kind of took a few situations of various clients and a few of the stories I heard from other carers. These were brewing in my mind, and I decided this was the time to write a script.”
“Mel and Morjana are absolutely electric on screen. Both actors had to search the darkest depths to find their characters.”
Currently in post-production, Myth will be released later this year, and Shaun is keen for it to be screened locally at the Odyssey.
Shaun added: “We will hit the festival circuit, including Cannes and Toronto – we have a big list of festivals we will approach first, and then we will focus on distribution, for its release.”
As both men have a love of The Shining, they are hoping to “do something in conjunction with the Odyssey, as there is a lot of ‘Kubrick feel’ to it.”