Complete Masterclass in the Making of Ben Wheatley's 17th Century Head Trip 'A Field in England'
If you’ve ever wished that someone somewhere would just lay out exactly how they made their film — I mean really lay it out, with notes and videos, basically like a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a film, you are so incredibly in luck. The website for director Ben Wheatley and his team’s black and white, single location, “17th Century head trip” micro-budget film A Field in England offers an exhaustive and exceedingly helpful masterclass on the film’s development, pre-production, shooting, and post. So, if you’re ready to follow their production process and learn just about everything there is to know about making a movie like this, hit the jump.
Shot on a Red Epic and Canon C300 (with a bunch of weird lenses) in only 12 days, A Field in England isn’t your run-of-the-mill historical thriller. Set in the mid-17th century during the English Civil War, a group of deserters are being hunted down after they escape from their Civil War confederates through an overgrown field. Once they’re found by two men, a psychedelic treasure hunt, both physical and mental, ensues. Check out the trailer below:
The film’s sub-site offers a masterclass that has everything — like, almost literally. There are featurettes galore about the making of the film, its influences, time management, acting strategy, cinematography, sound, editing — you name it. They have written entries on the film’s development — how it all started, the evolution of the graphic art for the poster, wardrobe production, and the DP’s kit list. They even have PDFs that you can download of the original call sheets and shooting schedules.
Check out this making-of featurette:
I’m not kidding when I say that the site has everything. It would be impossible to read and watch everything in one day — maybe even a week. This is a learning tool that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again with questions that need answering. It’s almost as if the crew decided to shoot a film in order to make a filmmaking masterclass!
I’m not saying, and I don’t think that the filmmakers are saying this either, that their way is the one definitive way to make a film. However, they’ve done what all of us have always wished out favorite filmmakers did — compiled every tiny piece of information about the production of a film, complete with videos, literature, lists, and how-to tutorials, and gave it to us for free.
Here are a few more videos from different phases of production that will hopefully lead you to the site if you haven’t gone there already. (I’ve bookmarked it joyously.) Check out the videos below:
A Field in England is available on multiple platforms, including in theaters and a random field in the UK (you heard me,) but probably the easiest and fastest way to experience it is on VOD through iTunes and Film40D, which is only available to those in the UK. Even if you live elsewhere you can still buy the DVD and Blu-ray on Amazon.
What do you think about the masterclass? Did it help you learn something about film production? Have you see the film? Tell us what you thought! Let us know in the comments.