Shrouded in a disquieting level of secrecy and steeped in mystery rivalling a Christopher Nolan production, The Water’s Edge – directed by the Lincoln-raised Chris Thomas – and being shown at Mayhem Festival this Saturday is not quite what you’d expect from a typical low-budget short.
As Thomas explains to New Rising Media, “Without giving too much away, it’s about a man who’s alone in an abandoned world, struggling to survive on a mountainside. By day he watches the lake, and by night he hides in a cave from ‘unseen’ predators.” That Thomas divulges one of the biggest influences on the final film is Gareth Edwards’ infectious creature-feature Monsters – the 2009 reality-spiked monster movie that used its shoe-string budget to terrific effect – you'd be forgiven for believing there's a lot more to The Water's Edge than meets the eye. Thomas continues, “One day, a figure appears on the far shore of the lake and disappears beneath the waters. He returns home, consumed by despair, only to find something waiting for him – something he feels compelled to pursue.”
Like Monsters – which used an alien outbreak as a backdrop to what was a deeply affecting human drama at its center – The Water's Edge pivots on the very real sense of dread, loneliness and fear felt by its main man, Robert Stenuit (Mark Drake) amongst a bleak, barren and foreboding landscape. “The location was really important, due to that we knew the film was going to be very visual,” says Thomas, “we needed somewhere with a sense of isolation, with unusual terrain – which is why we ended filming in Dinorwic Quarry.” Irrefutably, the final film owes a debt to the stunning, wide-open scenery found by Chris and cinematographer Mateusz Szcześniak, who Thomas enthuses “did a wonderful job on the film”, gifting it its so unique visual flavour.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, however. Thomas recounts how the shoot was fraught with bad luck, severe weather conditions and strenous hard-work: “the filming was extremely physical. Every morning, the entire crew would get up and climb up mountains and steep quarry hills, all the while carrying tracks, cranes and other heavy objects,” he recalls. “Sound assistant Mary Henning twisted her leg, Mark (Stenuit) took a horrible fall on slate (later cut into the film), and our stills photographer Rachel Rayns got run-over during filming: luckily she was okay!”
Though Thomas has already built up an impressive portfolio around a range of talents (Writer, DoP, Director), The Water's Edge is what he labels as his “first proper directional piece” and will likely serve as a prelude to a potential feature. “Me and the writer Richard Standen will have a feature script ready hopefully next year. It's a difficult thing to achieve, so it's going to take time and persistence to get it done, but I believe in this film a lot.”
The Water's Edge will be showing in Nottingham this Saturday as part of the Mayhem Film Festival. Book your tickets at http://www.broadway.org.uk/