'Duplicity' is July 2019's Film of the Month

22 Aug 2019 in Film of the Month

9 mins
'Duplicity' is July 2019's Film of the Month

We are delighted to announce that Duplicity, made by Alex from Basingstoke, is the July 2019 winner of our Film of the Month competition. Watch Alex's winning film above. 

Duplicity (engaging for 11+) is a suspenseful thriller with a brilliant soundtrack that sees a young woman curiously enter a home only to discover an unsettling presence within...

I thought that this was an extremely impressive film, both technically and creatively, made by very skilled and creative filmmakers. It was full of very original ideas and kept me hooked throughout.

Film of the Month judge on 'Duplicity'

We got in touch with Alex to find out more about his film. 

Congratulations! How long have you been making films and how did you start?

Thank you very much. Filmmaking is something that has interested me for a long time - I used to mess around with cameras when I was about seven or eight years old, making stop-motion LEGO films - but really it wasn't until I was around fourteen years old that I started taking my interest seriously. From there, the size of the projects has gradually increased from small scripts to projects like Duplicity. I've yet to make a feature length film but hopefully the opportunity will present itself in time.

Where did you get the idea for Duplicity?

Coming from the position of a young filmmaker with a limited budget and resources, casting is often my biggest trouble - I've got too many unmade scripts that require more actors than I have. For Duplicity, I tried to come up with various one-actor scenarios that I could expand upon. I wanted there to be two characters with a conflict between them, so my options were limited. After considering twins, à la Parent Trap or The Social Network, I opted instead for a doppelgänger, an idea I felt I could use in a more interesting way. With Duplicity I was able to explore the concept of internal conflict, which is something I had been considering for a while.

One of the most impressive features of the film is its soundtrack. How did you put that together?

The sound in Duplicity is something I paid a lot of attention to - it often seems to be neglected in lower-budget productions. There is no live sound in the final film - the first thing I did after putting together the rough edit was to delete all of the audio recorded during filming. After this, I was essentially left with a silent film and from there I created a foley track and added each sound back in, one by one. This resulted in a deliberate and designed soundtrack that enhances the film's atmosphere.

The other technique I tried with this film, which I might not have done for a longer project, was to edit with the music. This isn't something I would make a habit of, but in this case I found it worked better than adding the music in at a later stage. The music is a vital component of Duplicity, especially since there is no dialogue, and therefore I wanted it to feel integrated, instead of being a separate entity in the background.

What gave you the idea to give your film a female protagonist?

This is a difficult question. As a viewer I have always found myself drawn to female protagonists, although I'm not entirely sure why. I always want to make films that I would enjoy watching, as, I'm sure, does everyone else. When I wrote Duplicity there was never a moment where I made the conscious decision to feature a female protagonist, it's just what I wrote. Perhaps this instinctive choice has a true meaning, but without psychoanalysis I'm not sure I can give that answer. I don't think, however, that Duplicity would have had the same effect with a male protagonist, even though there is no significance to her gender in the plot. The presence of a female protagonist is definitely important to the viewing experience, but why?

Duplicity is a shot using very evocative low light conditions - did you find that level through experimentation or have you used that lighting set up before?

It's not a lighting set up I have ever tried, in fact I was hesitant to use it in this case as well. It was a considerable challenge but I felt it was necessary, for this film, to create the tone I was going for. Despite many late nights of filming, over what seemed to be a very cold winter, I never once considered changing it. The night-time is a mysterious temporal setting in which it seems anything can happen - a perfect choice for Duplicity. In the end, the majority of exterior shots were filmed on an old lens I picked up on eBay with a manual aperture control. This meant I was able to open the aperture wide enough to film in the dark.

What are some of your favourite films and how have they influenced Duplicity?

Perhaps the most obvious influence on Duplicity is Richard Ayoade, with his 2013 thriller The Double. This is a film I researched throughout my preparation period, and the film's visuals were a huge influence on the visuals of Duplicity. Alongside this, Denis Villeneuve's Enemy and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Doppelganger were also influential in their visuals, and I would highly recommend all of these films and their directors.

Some of my favourite directors who I haven't previously mentioned include Hirokazu Kore-eda, Wim Wenders, Sofia Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard, Tom Ford, Paul Thomas Anderson and, more recently, Ari Aster.

These directors' works are not as clearly marked as influences in Duplicity but they are definitely on my mind throughout the production process and I'm sure they have had some effect on the final product. Of course, there are many more directors who I admire and whose works have inspired me, this is just a quick selection off the top of my head.

If you could make Duplicity again what would you do differently, and why?

Working without a shot list and schedule meant that myself and the director of photography weren't on the same page and therefore he was unable to plan ahead. Instead, I was explaining as we went along, a method that didn't compliment his work style. In hindsight, it's not my work style either and my planning on more recent projects has been much more precise and comprehensive. Not only does extensive planning reduce stress, but it's a huge time-saver too.

What three tips would you give to a filmmaker who is about to make their first short film?

  1. Creativity is a frame of mind and you won't always be in it. Look after yourself.
  2. People often say ‘don't be too ambitious' - don't avoid ambition, just navigate around it. If you can't make a disaster film, make a film about the build-up or the aftermath.
  3. Mistakes and diversions can lead you somewhere unexpected. Make a plan, but don't panic if it doesn't always pan out.

Alex's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop his future films. Think you could win Film of the Month? Find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you've been inspired by Duplicity then make sure to check out the following films:

  • The Innocents (1961, 12, 99mins) Engaging for 11+
    Psychological horror set in Victorian England, as a governess fears for the safety of two orphans in her care amid supernatural goings-on.
  • The Devil's Backbone (2001, 15, 180mins) Engaging for 14+
    A ghost story set at the end of the Spanish Civil War from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro.
  • The Double (2013, 15, 89mins) Engaging for 14+
    Brilliant black comedy about one young man's nightmarish encounter with his doppelganger.
  • Us (2019, 15, 116mins) Engaging for 16+
    A family's vacation takes a horrific turn when their doppelgangers appear and begin to terrorise them. 

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