In Tera Toma, the new film by Josh Gaunt and Syndrome Pictures, which premieres at 8pm today (Tuesday, September 15) at the Exeter Phoenix, you get the feeling that madness is a daily occurrence.
Shot in real-time on the streets of Exeter and shown in split screen, there’s a cyclical nature to the film. It’s like these characters have been here before, caught in a loop of their own existence.
In a sense that’s true. It was filmed in five consecutive days with a crew tramping the same streets to follow first one story to its conclusion, then the other. The two pieces were then put side by side for one 45-minute film.
It’s a process which has seeped into the movie. At times the two main actors could be speaking to each other, communicating through the border of the shot -and likely as not, through the border of their psyche -as the horror unwinds.
Before shooting, director Josh shied away from idea that this film was horror, but horrific it is, in that grown-up darkly psychological way that depends on story, pace, atmosphere and performance.
Taking its lead from Mike Figgis’ Time Code and Hotel, after each take cast and crew viewed their work, refining their performances before their next session. Each screen in the final film is taken from the last day’s shoot, where serendipity and schedule worked together most effectively. And it will be premiered just three days after completion, with a filming and post-production process of just eight days.
The film is one of balance, dark versus light, good versus evil, and process versus end result. It’s the naturalistic tension with keeps that tightrope from sagging, and that’s down to the rigours of the cast and crew.
Guerilla filmmaking like this is set to push boundaries.