3 October 2015

Just before the release of Tomb Raider Divinations, I had the opportunity to talk to Graham Jones, the Writer and Director for the fan film. Right from the start, the fan film felt like an ambitious project with a public financial backing through Kickstarter, a larger budget, and bigger goals. It was also clear from the initial ideas that the team behind the project has an enormous passion for the series and the work they do.

Read our interview below! 

Tell us a little about yourself!

I work for a visual effects company in Norwich called Rockstar. I've been a huge film production fan for years, when I left school in 2004 me and a bunch of my mates got together and in true cheese style, we made Hairy Mary; our first attempt at a feature length film, about two guys trying to return the hairy zombies to the crypt they came from. It was classic cheese in every sense of the word! Since then, we haven't ever put down the camera, as I progressed through College and Uni we started to push our ideas a little further, having learned new tech and purchased new equipment. We are still hard at work having made around 10 films and probably around 40 shorts.


Tomb Raider: Divinations was funded on Kickstarter. How was the decision made to crowd fund the project and how did you go about planning it?

We produced our first 'Lost Valley' film with nothing but a few pounds from my pocket to put together a costume and dye each piece. We filmed in one day. When we came up with our fresh trilogy story, we knew that Divinations would need more than just a few pounds. As we wanted to start to bring other locations into the film, that would mean travelling between locations, feeding people, dressing our characters and updating some of our equipment. It just seemed that Kickstarter was for us; a great community of people for fan film producers. We gathered together all of our research, looked into locations and actors then started to set up our campaign page.

Did you have an backup plans in case the Kickstarter goal wasn't met?

If Kickstarter hadn't made the funding we were looking for, the chances are, knowing our push to make films, we would have tried our hardest to make what we could. Really reaching out to a new audience is important to us, the bigger the fan base we build now, the better chance we have of showing some of our unique projects we have in the pipeline.

The project received full backing in the final few hours, how did you feel when you realised the goal was reached?

When we made our goal in the final few hours, we were all pretty shocked [on] this end. We had been throwing out the campaign for that month, and [it] started to generate some interest; but as the donations started to flow in right at the end, almost feels like our hard work was working. Just had to wait that little bit longer and not give up on our project.

As this is your second Tomb Raider fan film, did you approach the project differently based on previous experience?

We went into this film knowing that we didn't want to make a Tomb Raider based directly on a level previously playable on console. We wanted to cross our ideas into a small series, but at the same time I didn't want to push for a larger budget. A few people kept telling me how modest my budget was for the film, but I was determined to make a decent first film without blowing it by asking of people to invest in our ideas having not made anything too seriously before; but deep down we all knew that we could.

Tomb Raider was a perfect opportunity to show the web the potential our small filming group has. With the project drawing to a close, how have you found the past few months?

The final few months saw my electricity bills rocketing through the roof as my PC was endlessly rendering out visual effects elements for the film. Each night saw me getting home from work cleaning animations, setting up scenes and setting it off over night to render through my ever growing queue of graphics. Towards the end we really wanted to add scenes that were in the script that we couldn't pull off because of the budget. We had a mad rush around to tie up any loose ends, going back to locations to capture any extra shots we wanted.

What challenges have you faced during filming and were they things that you were prepared for at the start?

The main challenges we faced were on set. Every time we went to a location to scout it out: beautiful sets with everything we needed. Classic in my Jones nature of luck, we turned up to film at the Quarry... Norwich council were chopping down our forest because of an over running amount of Ivy eating away at the trees. So we really had to work around the sounds of men yelling, and chainsaws ripping into trees; on the one day we had a huge schedule, we had that to battle with! We also had a few issues with our swimming pool scene, having all the underwater equipment ready, we wasn't quite ready for how much lens distorting chlorine there would be. It was nuts, you could almost walk on the surface it was so thick.

What has been your favourite or most memorable moment of the project so far?

My favorite moment would have to be meeting up each morning, grabbing food from a superstore and driving in our mini convoy to the set. I love starting early with all my best mates, setting up the costumes and equipment, there's never a dull moment on our sets, doesn't matter if we are making a comedy or a horror, we are always having cracking banter.

As you're nearing the end of the project, what is there left to do?

Now we are nearing the end, the film has been rendered out. We have had private viewings between the crew and are happy with the end product. All we are doing now is clearing licences and prepping the Funder perks. When the licences are cleared, away it goes, Black Dragon Productions will launch the movie on our Youtube Channel.

Thank you Graham for the interview!  



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