Idol Of Evil
Idol Of Evil
By Phill Huxley
Local film production company Rotunda Films are shooting a low budget action-adventure movie called 'Idol Of Evil', in and around Birmingham. We caught up with Rotunda head honcho and the film's director Kevin McDonagh to get all the details.
Rotunda Films are Birmingham's newest film production company. They aim to produce feature films on a low budget, with film makers and other talented people from the local area.
The company's debut film 'Idol Of Evil' is currently in post-production. We spoke to writer/director and Rotunda Films founder Kevin McDonagh
On the set of Idol Of Evil
Could you tell us a bit about Rotunda Films?
Rotunda was set up February of this year by myself. My brother Mark stood as a director as the law requires two people for a limited company. In September Alex MaGill and Matt Sheppard both got deeply involved and have since come to me with plans to push things further so hopefully Rotunda will be growing a lot over 2005. My background is in low budget film production.
After leaving college with an A-Level in media I found work with very small companies trying to make TV shows, documentaries and films. In 2002 I directed my first feature ‘Open Window’. It cost me £1000 and never got shown, but I learnt a lot about making films, more than I think I would have done at University, so a grand was a bargain in the long run.
I then started working for a small Birmingham based company that was trying to set up a deal with some financiers to produce a series of films. We shot one of them but the project fell apart late 2003. From there I sprang back into film making mode and started producing ‘Idol of Evil’, setting up the company as solid back bone to the production.
What about the film itself ‘Idol of Evil’?
Its a very typical action adventure film, like The mummy and Tomb Raider but it has been Englished Up. Indy meets Dangerfield is a good way to describe it I suppose.
Idol Of Evil
Are there a lot of local people working on the film - both in front of and behind the camera?
The team was huge by the time we finished. So many people had come to help out. While most, at least two dozen were local - a few travelled a fair way to work with us. Jim Sweeney was on set for one day and flew down from Edinburgh to help us out, how do you top commitment like that?
On your production diary, I read that during the filming of one scene using a gun, you had a visit from the police who thought there was an armed maniac on the loose....can you tell us about that?
When the police showed up it was embarrassing. We had taken every precaution we could think of. There were cameras, lights a big sign saying ‘filming in progress’, yet we didn't realise we came under a different police constabulary than the one we had informed, so they weren't aware.
Idol Of Evil
They realised what it must have been though and after we chatted to them, offered to show them the guns we were using and let them know that no real shots where being fired, they were happy. They stayed to watch for 10 minutes as well. I learnt how important preparation is. You can plan for a thousand things to go wrong and you'll still be surprised.
You seemed to have a few problems with locations and actors dropping out. How stressful did you find making the film? Was it easier or tougher than expected?
It got a lot harder when the producer had to leave because his girlfriend was having a baby. I took on a lot more but as others got more involved it became a very well organised machine. At one point the stress was very bad though, my back gave way one day and I was doubled up for 3 days in agony.
Due to the nature of the film, was there a lot of gore and makeup involved?
Most of the make up was simple stuff, a few cuts and bruises. Most of the cast and crew had had some type of basic make up training, so could do that. For the finale we had an artist come down and do the blood pouring from the eyes and such. A lot more will be needed when we do the SFX shoots and people start getting blown up!
There is also a Motorbike stunt in the film, how did that go?
The motorbike stunt was fun to shoot. We did some full run through takes, where Alex (the stunt rider) and Simon had to do the real thing from start to finish. That was great but then when you start doing close ups and breaking it down, it becomes very boring and repetitive. Keeping the excitement in the footage so it is there in the film is very important.
Scene from Idol Of Evil
To me, Birmingham doesn't really have a big cinema heritage – apart from Cliff Richard's ‘Take Me High’ of course. Would you agree?
This is something I feel strongly about. Screen West Midlands is meant to be in charge of developing the film industry yet they seem more interested in protecting their jobs and patting themselves on the back. When is the Birmingham film festival? Ok, a few film wannabes like me know it’s in November but no one else does. They get their funding, they are in their safe job and they won’t rock the boat.
Short films seem high on the agenda, but when was the last time you went to the cinema or rented a DVD with a short film on it, how does that help the industry grow? Why spend all the money on films with no chance of getting it back?
The times they do put money into commercial movies, they make absolute rubbish. ‘Large’ and ‘Sex Lives of the Potato Men’ were a disgrace to the film industry and an embarrassment to the city.
Idol Of Evil
Look at the film adaptation of the book ‘The Rotters Club’ by Jonathan Coe. The book is such a ‘Birmingham Book’ and was a best seller, I know dozens of people who read it, loved it and said would make a great film. But it is being made in the Isle of Man - a missed opportunity.
There is a film community in Birmingham but Screen West Midlands and the Custard Factory are nothing to do with it. I like many others have decided just to focus on our own projects and films. It is the only way anything will happen in this city.
What is the status of the film now? And what are the plans for next year?
The film now is in post-production. The main footage is shot, I have some pick ups... little bits here and there... to shoot and then a bit of SFX shooting, whilst the edit is being done. Music and Sound FX are to be added as well, hopefully all ready by April at the latest.
last updated: 04/09/07
Have Your Say
Does Birmingham have a cinema heritage? What films have been made in the city? Do you agree with what Kevin says about Birmingham's film community?