Brixham-based writer-director Ben Barfoot presented the Devon premiere of his sci-fi thriller Fuse at Exeter Phoenix yesterday.
Ben, pictured above left with producer Lee Wade, played the flick, along with a short ‘making of’ documentary, to an enthusiastic standing-room-only crowd.
Fuse tells the story of a man who wakes up with a strange mechanical device embedded in his chest. He escapes on to the rain soaked streets of a city, littered with graffiti of civil unrest. When the storm breaks and the sun rises, he sees the city in its true light and comes to learn his place within it.
The 30-minute film has the ‘rotoscoped’ look of Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly or Ralph Bakshi’s Lord Of The Rings – a technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame.
This style is invariably expensive and time consuming, so Barfoot’s production team created their own automated software for the process.
The results look amazing. Reminiscent of the Animatrix shorts from 2003, the direction seems a lot more dynamic than A Scanner Darkly – presumably because the automated software makes it easier to incorporate whip pans, shaky dutch angles, etc.
While some low-budget attempts at emulating big-budget features come across as bitty and rag bag, Fuse is actually pretty gimlet-eyed about adhering to the story. It must’ve been tempting for the filmmakers to just keep throwing new stuff at the work and bump it up to feature length.
Plot-wise too, things are kept pretty simple, with a minimum of exposition and dialogue. In fact, the film’s dialogue could probably be cut back even further – it rarely furthers the plot, some talky scenes go round in circles and the F-bombs seem incongruous.
Though moving along at a cracking pace, lead actor Robin Mayes anchors the piece with a surprisingly subtle performance. Jack Bailey, as Danny the Vagabond, also makes a strong impression. Jason Ward’s sound design and music is also noteworthy, if a little muddy over the Phoenix PA system.
Oh, and in keeping with most local films these days, there’s a fairly obvious on-screen spelling mistake…
But enough of the quibbles – there’s no getting away from the fact that Fuse is an extraordinary achievement. It’s far and away the most enjoyable, satisfying and accomplished movie we’ve seen from a local filmmaker since D+CFilm started and deserves to do well.
There’s another chance to see Fuse at the next D+CFilm CINE event at the Phoenix on October 2. If you have a film you would like to screen at CINE or you’d like to do a short talk, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief synopsis (up to 50 words) of the film/project, along with any other relevant information, including a still from the film -films can be of any genre, but no longer than 15 minutes.