OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE
Of wild desire with the success of
‘SICK TO MY BONES’
Last Friday, mid-afternoon I had the pleasure to interview the creators of “Sick to My Bones” in Starbucks just down from Lang Kwai Fong, the trendy up-market entertainment district of Hong Kong. And true to form, both Matthew NOMATTSLAND Leonhart, who wrote the screenplay and created the world behind the concept, and his co-director, Guy Davies, whose expertise with the technical side of film making is second to none, both were speeding at a million miles an hour between engagements to talk about their aims, concepts, development, and how they both entered into the film-making business as teenagers. Their schedule at the time, having just returned from setting up their clobber at the Third Culture Film Festival, it was time for the interview then off to take some drone footage over high-rise Hong Kong Central for use in their next movie, and then freshen up for the excitement and intense local and international press coverage for the official opening of the festival that was to take place a few hours hence.
Sick to My Bones trailer http://www.sicktomybones.com/the-film.html
At the award ceremony at the end of the festival their efforts were roundlyapplauded as they took out the top two coveted awards; the People’s Choice Award and the Outliers Award. The first things that one notices about this dynamic pair is the unwavering commitment and direction they employ in focusing on their work. They have this infectious youthful positivity about them that radiates in the way they discuss ideas, concepts and possibilities. One gets the feeling that no obstacle too huge or implacable could be placed in their path to hinder their progress in the slightest.
Matthew began his life, and his first 18 years, in Hong Kong to a British father and a Chinese mother. There is something special about the way these two bloodlines has fused into forming his character and personality in a blending of the Ying and Yang to produce an achiever whose glory days are still way ahead of him as he sets about building on each success with another step foward in his constant journey upwards.
Educated at the prestigious English Foundation Island School on Hong Kong Island where he first began to develop his interest in acting and multi-media, the moment he finished his final year of secondary education, the stable door burst open and he was off and flying to study acting in Los Angeles at the Californian Institute of the Arts. It was here where he first gained his love of puppetry, an element of his signature work which has featured to a high degree in his films, music videos and live theatre shows. After completing his course of study at the Institute he worked professionally in films and theatre garnering his skills and experience, and connecting with a wide range of professionals employed across the theatre and visual arts spectrum.
Later he returned for a five year spell to Hong Kong where he completed a Master’s degree in Multi-media Technology and re-entered the world of visual arts where he set about curating and creating many solo and group exhibitions, some of which were toured through the Asian region. At the end of that five year period, seeking new fresh fields, ideas and experience, he was off to London where he hit the ground running involving himself in a variety of projects in film, live theatre and acting. After some time in London he was to experience that classic Robert Frost ‘fork in the road’ dilemma that was to shape his future in a really significant way. Responding to an ad for an acting job, on the morning of the day of his interview he tossed over in his mind whether he filled the right requirements for the job, or should he just give it a miss. At the last moment he decided to take the road less travelled, and it was purely through making that choice that he came in contact with Guy Davies whose film, ‘Emily’ he was to be interviewed for. Of course he got the job and the rest is pretty much history as that was the basis of their formidable and productive relationship. Soon after , Matt was on board Zebrafish Media Productions , the company established by Guy Davies and Matt Brawley, as a storyboard artist and director. http://www.zebrafishmedia.com/
Guy, who is seven years younger than Matt, actually had a much earlier start in the film industry, beginning as a child actor at the age of 11 in a leading role in a short film, “Benjamin’s Struggle”. The film was about a German Jewish boy who came across Hiltler’s manuscript of Mein Kampf, and tells of the struggles and persecution that beset Benjamin’s life, and the poetic justice it renders in the end. The story begins in 1934 while the Nazi reign of terror is running white hot, with Guy as the young Benjamin while Andrew Sachs, well-known for the Manual character he played in the British classic comedy series Fawlty Towers, takes over the role as the adult Benjamin. After premiering at the Californian Palm Springs FF in 2005, it screened at several Oscar qualifying festivals worldwide and won the Audience Award at ‘Encounters’, UK’s leading short film and animation festival. Already bitten by life in the film industry he spent his teenage years making films and being involved in many film projects. By the age of 18 he was awarded the Brett Ratner tuition grant to study at the New York Film Academy’s Cinematography programme. After graduating from this he returned to London to continue his passion of working with cameras to gain greater experience and opportunities. By 2014 Guy had expanded his range of skills to include directing and shooting his first short film, Emily, which had its premiere in New York and was then subsequently shown on the international short film circuit.
‘Sick to My Bones’ is the first film in a trilogy of films that, while not connected by storyline, are linked thematically to cover fundamental concepts of human perception and behaviour such as the struggle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ using allegory and uncluttered imagery to present a set of opposites, and by the end of the film arriving at a point of resolution. Set a billion years in the future when the earth, after much evolutionary change, is unrecognisably to the world we know today. In our timeframe, it was 570 million years ago that life forms that we are familiar with today began to evolve, and it wasn’t until 200,000 years ago that homo sapiens first started to take shape with the major religious beliefs that surround us today having their beginnings a mere two thousand years ago. Therefore as the film begins, much change both through war and climatic cycles, has taken place, and opens on an earth that has just cooled down enough to allow the two tribes of surviving humans to once again walk upon its surface. Prior to this one tribe had to tunnel into the land to seek relief and survive while the other had to live in the upper atmosphere to escape the earth’s heat. The earth people, as represented by the nine foot mole-like puppet with a demonic appearance, had to grow horns in order dig through the soil and rock to survive. Meanwhile the sky people, as represented by the aviator angle-like figure, developed wings to survive in their aerial domain. At the end the opposing forces are resolved and assimilated into the one state for, in essence there is both the good and bad in everyone and when that is acknowledged, the differences that divide them fade away and are taken over by the positive elements they share. Matthew’s deft hand at storytelling and with the extensive research he had put in on the world’s major religions and belief systems, and combining that with his visual arts and performance skills have all come together to a thoroughly plausible conceptual framework for the film.
The ethereal yet foreboding voiceover that underpins the tone of the film adds a new dimension to the story. If the narration was only spoken in English, perhaps that would have, to a greater or lesser degree, lessened the impact of the film to an English speaking audience. Doing it this way, the short clipped lines of English subtitles flash on the screen to make bare simple statements on the development of the action in the story. Presented in Japanese by Reina Tokura http://www.reinatokura.com/
It adds a glow of timelessness to the film that gives it the authority of a classic morality play or a children’s classic story. Added to that is the sensational panoramic landscape scenes taken in the Scottish Highlands by cinematographer Sil Williams which bring a breath-takingly stunning location to life with mountainous terrain, ancient woods, drifts of mists, floating clouds and other elemental features.
A brilliant cinematographer, Stil Williams brought amazing depth and created beautiful shots with his talent using the ARRI ALEXA camera.
Check out his reel and past work at WWW.STILWILLIAMS.COM
Another point worth mentioning that further enhances the icing on the cake is music. That was composed by Xiaotian Shi who has written music for the Royal Ballet School, London Contemporary Dance School and the Sacconi Quartet. Xiaotian was the Winner of 1st Prize in the 6th Annual International Composition for Orchestra Competition, in LA, California, his orchestral work was premiered by the Asia America Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Benoit. He was also a prizewinner of the Sibelius Student Composer of the Year competition.
He was the youngest finalist of the Transatlantyk International Film Music Competition for 2 years running, open to all composers aged up to 35. The judges were made up of A-List composers such as Jan Kaczmarek, Mark Isham and Marco Beltrami.
Over the last few years, he has been working as an assistant composer for both Series 1 and 2 of the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award Winning “Stephen Hawking’s Universe”. Xiaotian’s music has been used by Greenpeace International and UNICEF.
Kristina Lao, a Hong-Kong born actor and singer-songwriter gives a formidable appearance as the lead actor in the film. She studied at the London School of Musical Theatre, and has worked on a number of theatre productions, commercials and short films in the UK and Hong Kong. She is currently living in Vancouver and recently signed with Principals Talent.
Sick to My Bones website http://www.sicktomybones.com/the-film.html
As well as playing the lead role in this film, Kristina co-wrote the theme song to ‘Sick To My Bones’ with her long-term co-writing partner, Elli Parish at Spotty Snail Studios. www.principalstalent.com .
CHECK OUT THE NEXT EXCITING FILM IN THE TRILOGY, “MAY YOU NEVER DIE”. YOU CAN ADD SUPPORT TO DRIVE ITS SUCCESS BY CLICKING ON THE LINKS BELOW
Third Culture Film Festival Pt B (Word download for winning films and information of the festival judges: Cntrl + click)
This is the official selection of Films for TCFF 2016, curated by TC co-founder, Faiyaz Jafri.
In its first year, there were over 1800 submissions from around the world.
The films selected were done so based solely on merit, artistic vision, creativity, originality, professionalism. Maybe one element of the film stood out, the story, the acting, the production, the direction. What we made sure of however, is that we gave all films a fighting chance, irregardless of where they were from, or what budget they had. If the film was good, it would be considered, and in this way we strive to stay true to our desire of being a genuinely independent festival.
|#LINGO||Vicente Nirō||Portugal||2015||10m 30s|
|All Rot||Max Hattler||Hong Kong||2015||7m 0s|
|An Angry Man||Jannik Dahl Pedersen||Denmark||2015||19m 59s|
|An Unforgettable Day||Brian A. Crandall||Korea||2015||21m 57s|
|And We’ll Eat Flowers||Logic Paillard||France||2014||24m 50s|
|Back Hometown||Li Bin||China||2015||19m 59s|
|Body Hair Archive||Dorothy Lee||USA||2014||4m 17s|
|Broken Mirrors||Nacho Recio||Spain||2014||4m 59s|
|Coordinated Movement||Michael Pelletier||Canada||2015||3m 11s|
|Dark Bile||Nuno Sá Pessoa||Portugal||2013||17m 41s|
|Das Katzenjammertal||Ara Jo||Germany||2014||4m 0s|
|Dawn||Leon Le||USA||2014||10m 0s|
|Disobedience||Baris Alp||Turkey||2015||10m 0s|
|Doctor Pafke||Kris Verdonck||Belgium||2015||12m 30s|
|Doggy Love||Wong Ping||Hong Kong||2015||6m 0s|
|Emily’s Diary||Shu Zi||China||2016||14m 58s|
|Extreme Pinocchio||Pascal Chind||France||2014||22m 44s|
|False Allegory||Greg Doble||Canada||2014||1m 43s|
|Family Meal||Park Soo-Min||Korea||2014||20m 40s|
|Fatvolution||Adam Ng Wei Sheng||Singapore||2015||9m 23s|
|Fleischwelt||Ara Jo||Germany||2015||0m 52s|
|Followers||Gints Zilbalodis||Latvia||2014||7m 36s|
|God’s Work||Joseph Angelakis||Hong Kong||2015||15m 54s|
|Haiku 4: STILL||Lyle Pisio||Canada||2014||6m 25s|
|If They Had Eyes||Carlos Polo Menárguez||Spain||2015||14m 55s|
|Il Fascino di Chiamarsi Giulia||Samuele Alfani||Italy||2015||20m 5s|
|In a forest||Fons Schiedon||Netherlands||2014||2m 30s|
|Insomnia||Bernardo Lima||Portugal||2015||11m 0s|
|Into the Dark||Lukas Hassel||USA||2014||14m 24s|
|Ivan’s Need||Manuela Leuenberger||Switzerland||2015||6m 20s|
|Jussey, France 2009||André Thijssen||Netherlands||2012||2m 3s|
|Marionettes||Tamas Waliczky||Hungary||2007||7m 0s|
|Marius||Pierre-Julien Fieux||France||2014||4m 8s|
|Mediation||Francisco Lorite||USA||2014||14m 10s|
|Memories of a Hitman||Sebastian Vuye||Belgium||2015||13m 0s|
|Microwave||Neil Champagne||USA||2015||13m 14s|
|Mischa||Remy Kooi||Netherlands||2015||12m 33s|
|Oneiria||Jeroen Cluckers||Belgium||2014||3m 52s|
|Pianos||Aleksandr Kirienko||Russia||2015||2m 10s|
|Ratio||Murat Sayginer||Turkey||2013||2m 4s|
|Religatio||Jaime Giraldo||Canada||2014||3m 22s|
|Rita||Valery Yuzefovich||Israel||2013||4m 10s|
|Sick To My Bones||NOMATTSLAND||UK||2015||14m 28s|
|Stark Electric||Jesus Hyash Tanmoy||India||2014||12m 7s|
|Still||Yin Liu||USA||2015||5m 10s|
|Stop||Serdar Cotuk||Turkey||2014||3m 0s|
|The 8-Bit Cup||Paul Johnson||Canada||2014||2m 37s|
|The Chicken||Una Gunjak||Croatia||2014||15m 0s|
|The Fisherman||Alejandro Suarez||Hong Kong||2015||20m 0s|
|The Horse Raised by Spheres||David O’Reilly||Ireland||2014||2m 38s|
|The Hose||Mansour Foruzesh||Iran||2014||14m 20s|
|The Little Match Girl||Kyoko Yamashita||Brazil||2014||9m 13s|
|The Punishment||Nelson Fernandes||Spain||2012||3m 30s|
|The Real American||Darya Zhuk||USA||2015||13m 9s|
|The Stomach||Ben Steiner||UK||2014||15m 0s|
|The Wheel||Menna Ekram||Egypt||2015||13m 53s|
|To See More Light||Kurtis Hough||USA||2015||15m 20s|
|Unhappy Happy||Peter Millard||UK||2015||7m 7s|
|Up Route||Jordan Wippell||USA||2015||5m 7s|
|Urban Conformation 31:41||Rouzaud Cornabas Florian||France||2014||2m 49s|
|Victoria||Mathilde Marc||France||2014||13m 26s|
|Vitreous||Robert Seidel||UK||2015||3m 30s|
|Vivid||Guillaume Foresti||France||2014||22m 0s|
|Wayward (org. title ‘Rodløs’)||Kira Richards Hansen||Denmark||2014||20m 0s|
|While You Lower Your Head||Anastasia Tsang||Hong Kong||2015||8m 0s|
|Wolf||Nadan Pines||Israel||2015||10m 0s|
|You Are Not Alone||Yufeng Li||USA||2015||6m 1s|
|Zeitnot||Ernesto Rowe||Argentina||2015||11m 0s|
|Zero M2||Matthieu Landour||France||2015||18m 16s|
Third Culture Film Festival Pt B (Word download for winning films and information of the festival judges: Cntrl + click)