After watching The Cove 2 and catching up the more of his work, we dropped North Devon filmmaker Ryan Martin a line to find out about shooting and screening a film in a day, the characters in the RAMUK69 universe and classic movies in Barnstaple.
D&CFilm: There’s a real sense of fun and guerrilla feeling to your films. How do you get them made and who’s involved?
Ryan Martin: If it wasn’t for my friends and family none of these films would exist. No one gets paid, I just beg them to show up and stand in front the camera.
The whole process goes something like this. I write a load of notes by hand, then when I have enough ideas I type a script. The script is just a rough guide to what I want people to say, what you hear is 99% ad-lib.
We all have busy lives so I keep it to a one day shoot, normally being around 4 hours. On the actual day things happen that can’t be helped, people can’t make it, it rains etc, so rewrites happen as we’re shooting sometimes to the point we ditch the script completely. We try to film in order of script so it’s easier for me to edit when I get home (The Cove and The Cove 2 premiered on the same day of filming).
Everything is shot using an iPhone 6s and a tripod and then I use iMovie on the phone to edit once we’re done filming. The only time I don’t use the phone is when I have to create the scrolling end credits iMac. Any CGI is created by Kevin Slade who starts working on it normally a week or two before our actual shoot. The Cove 2 even had an opening drone shot thanks to Howard Thompson.
Working with small children is a challenge, those were real tears whilst Amy played dead in The Cove 2. We had to get Kitty off the set and replace her with a “stunt double” after that scene.
D&CFilm: The Cove 2 and The Cove have a connection to the Theatre FringeFest, what gave you the idea to do them?
Ryan Martin: Myself and Chay used to make short films (everything in a day) all the time together when we worked in the same supermarket. Then we had a 10 year break and in that time he opened The Cove. FringeFest gave us the excuse to get back together and attempt to shoot a movie in a day like we used to, you can get away with a lot more when your lead actor owns the location of the shoot.
D&CFilm: What inspires your string of bizarre characters?
Ryan Martin: I’m actually loling trying to put this is to words. Some of them are based on real life friends and family, some are characters we created 10+ years ago that we have resurrected (The Bagman and Balaclava Man). The Pretenders are just our knock off version of Netflix’s The Defenders. Like Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse, there is a lot of overlap in the RAMUK69 universe where it’s the same people/characters popping up in different stories.
D&CFilm: What are you favourite films and / or who are your favourite directors?
Ryan Martin: Anything 80s for starters, The Goonies being my all time favourite film followed by E.T, The Toxic Avenger, Dirty Dancing and Bad Taste. More modern day movies I’d have to say The Human Centipede 2, Haggard: The Movie and Clerks.
There are a lot of great directors out there like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson but the ones who are most influential to my filmmaking are Lloyd Kaufman (Troma), Kevin Smith (View Askew) and Bam Margera (CKY).
D&CFilm: The Barnstaple Classic Cinema Club sounds fab. How did it come about and what’s it like to be revisiting these classics? Which has been the most surprising film you shown either from audience reaction, or for yourself?
Ryan Martin: Being born in the 80s means I missed out on watching loads of classic movies that I love at the cinema when they were first released. So I set up the club to give people a chance to watch these classics again or for the first time on a BIG screen.
So far we have had successfully screenings of Back to the Future, Labyrinth which actually sold out, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Big Trouble in Little China. All have been amazing to watch with an audience, everyone claps at the end which doesn’t happen in normal screenings anymore.
Watching these films on such a big screen means you end up spotting things you wouldn’t normally do when watching at home on your TV. Like all the strings on the puppets in Labyrinth and that the flying Wonkavator in Willy Wonka isn’t actually a real flying elevator.
D&CFilm: There’s a sense of a real film community in Barnstaple and North Devon. What’s it like being a filmmaker and film promoter there?
Ryan Martin: I know there are other local filmmakers out there but sadly there is no real connection between any of us other than the internet likes and follows.
I rely on my friends and family to get our films made and then have to rely on them to share the finished work afterwards online. It’s organisations like yourself who help spread our work further afield so thanks for that.
D&CFilm: And finaly, what’s next for you in terms of film?
Ryan Martin: We have already started planning our next film and this time it’s not going to be a one day shoot but if all goes to plan you should see it in June 2019 👻🚫. Also I’ve got to try work out how to make The Cove 3.
D&CFilm: Cheers Ryan!
Top image: Ryan Martin (centre) with owners of The Cove, Barnstapel, Chay West (left) and Amy Johnstone (right)