Natural Work

As the weekend sunshine warmed our ambling fellow citizens we were in a damp cellar underneath a pub in Hove.

The reason was the Sci Fi London 48 Film Challenge. That Saturday morning, along with 500+ other teams across the country, we received our unique brief for the challenge. As of 11:30am we had 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a short film called ‘Natural Work’.

Luckily Producer Fearghas Cleary and Sound Designer Ben Pickersgill had put together an excellent crew, including Director of Photographer Toby Bennett and Editor Carl Thomas and secured an excellent location, courtesy of the accommodating folk at The Station (fines ales, BT Sport and quiz nights -if you’re ever in the area). And we had the talents of James Macauley. It’s always a pleasure to direct my brother : )

Our story had to feature the line “Clear all thoughts from your head. Rest”, the prop of a key board (‘we see a character replace a missing key on a keyboard’) and the science element: “A man’s geneology test results suggest an unknown species, his paternal line ends with a grandfather he never knew?”


Or rather, write. Very quickly, come up with a story and turn it into a script so the eager team had something to go and make. No pressure.

That cellar was damp, man. But somehow still dusty, we were all coughing. James had the worst of it, being barefoot for most of his shots (I realise now that I have a sadistic streak when it comes to placing actors in these kinds of conditions. See Nastasiya and the upcoming Fleur-de-lis). Our self-imposed 1pm Sunday shooting deadline came and went, leading to a situation, post relocation to a flat on the other side of town, where shooting was taking place in one room, editing in another and sound design in a third.

Shooting 'Natural Work'

By the early hours of Monday the film was taking shape. Our edit was right up against the maximum five minute run time, but the story was crammed full of sweet stuff. Great performances from James and David (our day player, who delivered a surgically focused turn), great camera and lighting work from Toby and Josh, enriching sound from Ben, all watched over By Fearghas, keeping everything running to get us across the finish line. I bailed to get some sleep before work on Monday, but the other guys pulled an heroic all-nighter.

And in the end it turned out pretty damn good! So good that now, post-submission, it really deserves a longer edit and some more loving tweaks. Maybe some festivals await?

After it eventually gets chosen to be screened at the 48 Hour Challenge Awards at the Stratford Picturehouse next month, of course.