Dying Light filmmaking duo Luke Andrews (Director, Writer, Editor) and Daniel J. Harris (Producer) make for a perfect partnership whipping up their best short yet. Dying Light is set in Britain during World War 2 as a coming-of-age story when two boys encounter a German fighter pilot. After living a sheltered life in the Herefordshire countryside they learn the reality of war, but what the encounter brings them is not something they expect. The film is written with poignant revelation and a movingly current meaning in today’s world.Luke, a fan of war films, had the idea about 6 years ago when he wrote his first draft (originally inspired by the film Stand By Me) and left it to gather dust. “Then about 2 years ago, I saw a documentary called Into The Arms Of Strangers about Jewish child refugees that were taken in during the war. It fascinated me so much I had to take a small element of that. I wrote the script at the time in about a week, I was working in a radiator factory on night shifts and I’d get ideas and write them down on scraps of paper.”
The idea went backwards and forwards over the years, but the delays in making the film became more of a benefit with the adjustments they made to it over the years. As Daniel quite rightly pointed out, “it now has a lot of relevance. It tells a story of a time when Britain took in a lot of refugees when they needed somewhere to go and with all the debating in the media with taking in refugees and immigrants from other war-torn countries around the world, and whether we should take them or not is a gentle reminder that not all of them are war criminals or bad guys trying to find somewhere to hide. Some of them are just innocent children.” Luke added, “it was a very conscious decision to make a point about protecting children from the horrors of war, which was the point of the first scene.”[caption id="attachment_822" align="aligncenter" width="300"] © Luke Andrews[/caption]
Their most challenging moments? For Daniel it was pre-production. From the moment they knew they were going ahead with the film, to shooting, they had three weeks to get the shoot together, pull in some favours, crew up, cast, and sort out the locations. Pretty impressive, especially considering they both have a day job to contend with alongside the pre-production mayhem! Not everyone thought it was really possible, but Daniel’s foresight and skill as a quick-thinking Producer saw to the shoot being a smooth ride, which meant Luke could get on with directing with no fall-backs. Tony Rowlands in Special Effects had a more frustrating ride: being a one-man-band meant it was more of a drawn out process than anticipated. The visuals in the window are impressively shot against a green screen: it was “Tony’s magic” according to Dan. For Luke the hardest part is usually directing. “You’re on a film set with some 40 people looking at you to make decisions, it can be really stressful. Really I’m a Writer….and not the most outgoing of people, unless I’ve had a drink!”
Originally the shoot was on the Isle of Man and they had to match-fund it by raising £6-7k, but the funding from the Isle of Man was pulled. They then decided to make it happen locally with the cash they had raised themselves: from Dan, Jill James (Producer) and a software company. Dan said “We probably spent about £7k including everything, including festivals. £7k is a decent chunk of money for a short film, but if we were to budget it even with low industry rates the film is probably worth about £35-40k.”
The duo first worked together (in this capacity) in 2009 on, yes, another war film. Previously Daniel managed an online TV channel and Luke was the Editor. There they’d get two hours notice prior to shoot, then three hours after shoot until it aired – totalling 700 videos in 3 years between them. It’s clear where they got their efficiency skills from! Since then it seems they’ve built enough confidence and skill to pull this film off in style and quality, especially considering the budget they were working to. For them this is a statement of intent with regards to what they can do with limited resources, time and budget.
Luke and Dan have a promising start to their journey on the festival circuit, so far being selected for the Cardiff Independent Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Encounters Film Festival and the UK Jewish Film Festival. They have still more submissions up their sleeves. So does our Postman by day, Writer-Director-Editor by night have anything else up his sleeve? Of course, he has a feature version of this film, and a film dealing with the refugee crisis, Children of Men meets Stand by Me, with a smidgen of Rambo. Let’s see what his 5th film as a director turns out to be…