'Neill' is our latest Film of the Month winner

31 Oct 2022 in Film of the Month

8 mins
'Neill' is our latest Film of the Month winner

We are delighted to reveal that our latest Film of the Month winner is Neill, which was made by teenage filmmaker Ryan, from Liverpool.

Neill (engaging for 11+) sees a rivalry develop between two boys at a Christian Youth Group, before one of them stumbles upon what he believes could be the perfect revenge, in a brilliant film that runs the gamut from horror, to sci-fi, to comedy.

This film is fantastic, with an original, well-developed and engaging story. The narrative flows seamlessly and the special affects are brilliant.

Film of the Month judge on 'Neill'

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

Congratulations on winning Film of the Month. How long have you been making films?

I've been making films since I was 12, but it's only recently that I have been able to be truly proud of my work. I got started because I stumbled upon effects reels online and it quickly became an obsessive hobby of mine. My love of filmmaking grew from there, and I began to appreciate the art form in its entirety.

We've seen your incredible effects works in your other films, like Blue. How do you create such amazing effects?

I think the most important thing for me, in order to get good visual effects, is planning. Especially, when I'm working on something such as Neill - which was actually quite a lot to handle. Not only the obvious, but also plenty of object removals, and a huge chunk of day-for-night shots. I'd say the real trick is just knowing what you're shooting for.

I think a good example is the scene when Neill finds the Orb. I knew I could do day-for-night while shooting the path beneath the bridge. Yet as the scene moves into the forest, I knew it would become difficult, as the fine details of leaves cause real issues with sky replacement. So instead, we opted to shoot all of those shots in a dark room with some branches we had found outside and placed on some C-stands. 

Moving on to the Orb, I already knew the design would be heavily reflective, so I set up the secondary camera to capture a pass of actor Shay's performance to then reflect back onto the surface of the computer-generated model. Interactive lighting also helps, so we made sure to have a practical red light in the scene for when the door opens. This helped to bring the scene together.

The rivalry between Neill and Peter is absolutely hilarious - "Not now mum, I'm plotting" - might be one of our favourite lines ever. How did you create such well-rounded comedy characters with your two leads?

A lot of it was really up to the two actors. Shay (Neill) and Charlie (Peter) are really good pals of mine, so we had a few meet-ups beforehand to do rehearsals, which is where we came up with a lot of the jokes in the final film.

Charlie had a focused approach to it. He put together the costume for Peter himself and I really pushed him to up the wackiness in his performance. Peter was quite difficult to get right, but I think we struck a great balance of comical and sinister. On the other hand, Neill came much more naturally. I think we ended up with a really engaging character and Shay has a really natural screen presence that gets a laugh from doing very little.

Another element that makes the film so strong is its score. How was the creative process with your Composer?

The score is absolutely amazing. I'm obsessed with what my composer Jack put together. I've worked with him a lot in the past and he's a really good friend of mine, who has really good intuition when it comes to scoring. I gave a simple brief in terms of what sound I was after and had some temporary music to guide the main beats, but he just went away and made something ridiculously impressive.

Neill was shot over 3 days. How was the shoot?

Shooting over the three days was great. There was a super cool atmosphere, as everyone seemed really enthusiastic (buying food for everyone really does wonders!). We shot the first two days one after the other and then the third a week later. There were lots of locations involved, so organising it in a way that worked efficiently was a big task. A lot of things from the script had to change to make it possible.

Are there any films or filmmakers that influenced Neill?

I don't think I was consciously inspired by any specific filmmaker, but I did take a lot of influence from 1960s sci-fi when it came to designing anything to do with the aliens. Flight of the Navigator made me want to do something completely reflective, as I really like the look of the ship in that film.

If you could make Neill again, what would you do differently?

If I were to make Neill again, I'd certainly put a lot more time and research into the soundscape. At points, I feel it drags the film down. I'd also make a bit more of the story and spend a little longer on the script. I've grown to love the characters and I feel more could have been done with them and their rivalry.

What tips would you give to young filmmakers about to make their own short film?

I'm not sure if I'm the best person to answer, but here are a few of the things I try to remember:

  • Make the things that feel the most "you".
  • Be grateful to everyone helping you out. They're offering their free time, so make sure they enjoy it!
  • Take your time. You've got a lifetime to make the things you want, so never put too much pressure on yourself.

Ryan'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 Neill then make sure to check out the following films:

  • 2025: The Long Hot Winter (2019, Unclassified, 10 mins) Engaging for ages 11+
    Various Londoners are interviewed during the festive season of 2025, which is a little different from usual due to the effects of climate change.
  • Arrival (2016, 12, 116 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    An alien spacecraft lands on Earth, leading the military to recruit an expert linguist to try and gauge if they come in peace.
  • Holes (2003, PG, 112 mins) Engaging for ages 7-14
    Offbeat film about a kid who's sent to a sinister correctional facility in the desert to dig holes after being falsely accused of theft.
  • Artifice (2020, Unclassified, 4 mins) Engaging for ages 7-14
    Two street children race each other on the rooftops of their marvellous Middle Eastern city, unaware their lives will suddenly be changed.

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