Thursday, 1 March 2012


Went all out with the visual effects, did I not?

The Reign of Five is the final film in my trilogy of Five films and the last film I made until progress on The Attic began in September 2010. I had always planned for there to be a third, concluding film in the series due to the cliffhanger ending of The Map of Five but there were many ideas I had for a potential story to finish the trilogy. Though perhaps not as ambitious as The Map of Five in terms of locations, it still raised a lot of challenges for me to practice my filmmaking abilities. It is also the most expensive film I have ever created, with a grand budget of £2.50, funded towards fake blood.

At the end of The Map of Five, the original idea was that George had died and Nathan was alive. This was because the original story of The Reign of Five was to involve Nathan exploring Five's origins and previous victims, finding various maps it had created in the process, and finally destroying it to avenge his friends Andrew and George. Though it probably would have made for a more intense and enjoyable film than the actual outcome, it was ultimately far too difficult to pull off at the time and so this idea was scrapped. The next basic outline would involve the film directly continuing on from The Map of Five, where Nathan would awake possessed by Five, beat George to death and leave the house; we did not have much planned beyond this before it was scrapped. It was abandoned because between the filming of The Map of Five and The Reign of Five, my hallway carpet had changed and Nathan had gotten a haircut, so a direct continuation was not possible. As a result, I decided to set the film three months after the previous installment, and have both characters alive after the events at Andrew's house.

Nathan is hard at work adapting his experiences with Five into an awesome movie.
Right from the start I wanted to have a scene where George would be killed by Nathan, who was possessed by Five, by being beaten to death. The idea for this scene was inspired by a scene from the fourth season of the British teen drama Skins where a character named Freddie is violently beaten to death. I had many ideas as to how the death scene would play out, and finally settled on it taking place on the staircase in Nathan's house, which I felt could make it more violent and tense.

Filming for The Reign of Five began on May 15, 2010. In the opening scene we see Nathan typing on his computer a document recalling his events from Andrew's house. We then hear the gate knock (no awful dialogue this time) and George enters, requesting to check his e-mails. I always felt this was a very forced attempt to get George into the house for his death scene, as it just didn't seem practical that he would travel all the way to Nathan's house to check his e-mail; and then simply ignore that and go to the toilet. At this point I decided that Five's possession was in a dormant phase inside Nathan, so it had little control over him until deciding to kill George. 

"The hell you looking at?"
When Nathan is possessed by Five we decided to alter his performance to convey this; as a result he is silent with a bland expression and moves in a rather robotic manner, as if being controlled. Originally we were going to have him kill George with the wooden pole that I use to open my attic, but Nathan had a metal one for his attic which we decided would be much more deadly for the scene. The shots heavily focus on Nathan's facial expressions to convey the level of hatred and sadism Five exudes.

When the time finally came for the death scene, the fun truly began. In the original script Nathan was to smack George once with the metal pole and then kick him down the stairs, but after many tries we were unable to do this without it looking extremely silly. As a result we had the simple idea of George getting hit once with the pole and plummeting down the stairs, which injures him and allows Nathan to finish him off. It took many tries to get George to successfully fall down the stairs in a believable manner, and though the final shot we used isn't perfect, I feel it looks good when edited with the other clips. 

Why does Five even kill George? He didn't do anything to him.
In the final sequence of George being beaten, we filmed clips of George lying down reacting to the pole hitting him along with some sound clips of him yelling in pain. The most painstaking process of this scene was the clip of Nathan doing the beating, which used a very complex setup when filming. Essentially we had three pillows lying flat in front of Nathan, which he was hitting with the pole. I was lying down in the center of these pillows, so I was on Nathan's left with a spray bottle of fake blood mixed with water. George was then sat on the stairs filming Nathan as he did the beating. The idea was for Nathan to smack the pillows three times with the pole, and on the third time leave the pole in place as I sprayed him with fake blood to imply he had killed George. Due to me having to spray upward the fake blood did not exit the bottle very well and as a result this scene took many tries to perfect; even in the final cut one can see that the blood struggled to get onto Nathan's face.

Once this scene was done, we covered George's face in the fake blood for the clip of Nathan dragging the corpse into his room; unfortunately covering his clothes in it was not an option due to the stains the fake blood left. We then poured some on Nathan's hands and had him wash it off in the sink, which I think provided a very sinister image in the film after George's death. This concluded all the filming that took place on May 15, and filming continued with the latter half of the film on May 29, 2010. The next scene of Nathan (still possessed by Five) with the map was intended to be vastly different; it would originally have him spinning a bloody knife on the table, and looking to see George's arm poking out from a wall nearby, implying he had also mutilated him. We decided in the end that this was too drastic and unnecessary, and so altered it to have him stroking the map's symbols. Interestingly, this is the first appearance of the map since George placed it in his pocket in The Map of Five before the journey to Andrew's house. What happened to it in-between these events is unknown, even to me, because I was shit at scripting these films.

This scene was rather difficult to direct and film due to Five (in Nathan's body) speaking to the Spirit Master, who is voiced by me and edited in a similar way to my Five voice but slightly different for obvious reasons. We had to film many reaction shots of Nathan responding to the Spirit Master's dialogue (for example, when he shouts and makes Nathan jump) and make it so Nathan's acting sounded genuine in response to the recorded Spirit Master's dialogue, which was edited into the final cut of the film. This scene was also written in a way so that more exposition would be revealed to the audience in regards to Five's origins; it's made clear that he was to lose his powers ten years prior to these events and collected ten human souls to save himself for a further decade, which has now run out. We decided that it would be difficult to play out a scene of Five getting 3000 souls or something absurd, and so had him bargain with the Spirit Master to give him Nathan's soul and the map, which contains a rare power to lure victims anywhere.

In the following scene where Nathan awakes, no longer possessed, we were initially to have him confront Five on the staircase in the darkness, but this only worked for a limited amount of time. As it began getting darker outside, we decided to switch on the lights to make the footage less black. This was done by implying Five turns them on to frighten Nathan with his supernatural abilities, which I think worked pretty well. The death scene of Five was inspired by that of Doctor Facilier in Disney's The Princess and the Frog, who is dragged to his death by shadow spirits he failed to meet a deal with. The death scene even uses the same music, and the idea of flashing colours when Five is dragged to the Spirit World. The appearance of Andrew before Five dies is not actually Andrew; it is Five morphing into his shape and crying out for help in desperation, which I thought was a pretty cool concept. And yes, Nathan does die in the end, bleeding to death from Five's violent attack when he tore the map. We were going to show fake blood on his shirt to further imply this, but this would end up ruining the shirt and, due to it being black, would be difficult to film.

So there you have it; a complete behind the scenes look at the making of the final film in my Five trilogy. I will admit it is the best of the series and whilst I still do not like it a great deal, it is by far the most solid in terms of story, acting and content. I can still do a lot better, as I hope to show with 'The Attic', but this was still a reasonably strong effort at the time and should still be entertaining nowadays.