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Three members of staff from the Lancaster University Physics Department are showcasing their amateur film at Take 2 Cinema on Wednesday Week 4. The film, largely filmed in Australia, is self-consciously unprofessional, using handheld camcorders and other primitive technology to tell a story which charts the dogged efforts of an amateur film maker hoping to get their movie produced.
The movie was devised by physics lecturer Dr. Viktor Zolyomi, with help from fellow lecturer Dr Mat Beharrell and research student Michael Thompson, along with physicist colleagues from Hungary.
“I went to a conference in Australia with a pair of friends, and that’s where we did the bulk of the filming,” Zolyomi told SCAN. “We used a point-and-shoot camcorder, and obviously the quality is very much visible [in the final edit of the film]. If you watch the movie you will notice that a lot of the footage is very grainy, and the outdoor footage has a lot of wind noise.
“We didn’t count on any of that; we were complete amateurs.”
Zolyomi told SCAN that he hoped the settings used in the movie made up for the lower-grade technology used to film it. “The conference was in Brisbane, and we combined the trip with a vacation; we paid from our own wallets for a motor van to be able to drive across the northern half of Australia,” Zolyomi said. “It took us about nine days in total, and we got to see a lot of stuff, and so that’s where the idea came from to use the environment for the film.”
The rest of the movie was filmed in Lent Term 2013/14, a whole year and a half after the initial filming in Australia. “We upgraded the equipment and used the experience we had gained from the first film shooting. You’ll notice a big difference in the framing and how we filmed it,” Zolyomi said.
Indeed, during the time between the initial filming and its conclusion this year the film’s premises had changed from its initial intentions. “The background to this is that I wrote a book called Khan City in late 2011,” Zolyomi explained. “The short movie we filmed in Australia was supposed to be a short prequel we would put on YouTube to get people to read the book. But when we had finished [the initial filming in Australia] we realised how many mistakes we made during the filming, so I decided not to bother with it at all, and instead expanded it into a complete novel called Road to Khan City.
“I decided to edit the movie anyway because we had worked so long on it, and then we realised that if we filmed it in a way which was about an amateur film maker trying to talk a producer into funding a movie and we are quite satisfied with the result.”
The film, called Rick Jackson’s Hollywood, is a satirical comedy about the trials and tribulations of independent filmmaking, in which an amateur filmmaker teams up with a greedy Hollywood producer to make a cheesy movie about retired hitmen, murderous computer viruses, and very bad people. The trailer is available here.