Lockdown film starring Sir Ian McKellen shot in Crouch End flat
- Credit: Fizz and Ginger Films
A sci-fi film shot in lockdown in a couple's Crouch End flat has become a streaming hit.
Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart had previously made critically acclaimed indie films through their Fizz and Ginger production company when the pandemic struck.
Unable to shoot their next project, the couple developed their script for alternate -worlds sci-fi thriller Infinitum: Subject Unknown with Tori starring and Matthew shooting on an iPhone.
Both Game of Thrones actor Conleth Hill, and Sir Ian McKellen who supported the couple's previous films, asked "is there a part for me?"
They filmed themselves remotely playing quantum physicists in the near future world where Tori's character Jane is a test subject who escapes to travel through a post-apocalyptic world at war.
"Conleth has been in all of our features and Ian is a friend who once lent his pub in Limehouse for a shoot," says Matthew. "We had to think of something not hugely complicated they could realistically film by themselves. It's great how British film makers and people in the industry support each other's projects and genuinely want to give back."
The Butler-Harts were inspired by an Edgar Wright tweet during the first lockdown saying: 'I hope there are film makers out there making use of empty London streets'.
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"You never get to film London empty so we went out onto the streets of Crouch End and drove around as well as filming in our flat," says Matthew who shot footage in Priory Park and the Parkland Walk.
"We were lucky as husband and wife to be able to carry on writing scripts and it was a great chance to be more experimental, with no time limit, just the two of us having a play and seeing how far we could push it."
The film explores the many worlds theory of coexistence in parallel worlds. Footage was sent to an editor and a special effects expert working remotely, who added airships and buildings to the London skyline viewed from Ally Pally.
"It was just the two of us hoping it was making sense. We did blue screen looking out of our window and worked out how to light it, often reshooting if the light didn't match what we'd done the day before - as he was working on it, our editor said 'this is actually really good'."
Butler-Hart says the pandemic has forced film makers to "adapt the stories they are telling and be more creative."
"We had a couple of fairly big budget projects going last year when everything ground to a halt. But we didn't realise for how long. As the year went on we saw bigger production companies give up because they couldn't sustain their companies with such huge overheads, and the Government help came too late for some. Even when things did start again the added testing and social distancing has pushed up budgets. But it's also changed things and opened things up. It made people realise things can be done cheaper and to be more creative. There's lots of positives to come out of this horrible situation."
Streaming on all platforms since March with a DVD release and screenings in the US, at one point Infinitum: Subject Unknown was No 2 in a chart between Captain America and Avengers. Apple now want to work with Fizz and Ginger films, and Universal and Paramount are asking about future scripts and projects.
"Apple loved the film and people were intrigued with the weird way we had done it. When we started it we never imagined anyone would ever see the film. Now it's had a bigger reach than any of our other films."