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‘Freeze Frame’ Released This Week
18 Jun 2004 :

Lee Evans in Freeze Frame

Producer Michael Casey has spoken to IFTN about John Simpson’s dark and sophisticated thriller ‘Freeze Frame’ ahead of its release in the UK and Ireland this week.

 Speaking from the island of Sicily, where ‘Freeze Frame’ has just had its European

premiere, Michael is currently basking in the Italian sunshine and the critical success of this, his debut feature film.

The film is an edgy psychological thriller. Starring Lee Evans (There’s Something About Mary, Funny Bones) as Sean Veil, a man who has become engulfed in a world of paranoia after his near-conviction for a series of brutal murders. Sean videotapes himself around the clock so he’ll have a rock-solid alibi if he’s ever accused of another crime, ten years later, the one tape he needs to clear his name has mysteriously disappeared.

Casting the British comedian in what would be his first entirely straight role was not a risk for the producer.
“I didn’t think it was a risk particularly. It was such a demanding role, whoever we had gone with, it was unlikely they had done anything like that before. The thing that John saw in Lee was the darkness that many comedians have. He committed to it 100% and it’s really staggering what he got out of himself for the role, I don’t think we could have got a better performance from anyone else, it’s really a first class effort."

The foundations for the film were laid almost four years ago when director John Simpson and Casey collaborated on their short film “Mysterious Ways”, through this the pair formed a tight and productive filmmaking relationship. After working on the ‘Freeze Frame’ script for almost two years, John passed it on to Michael to read, and he instantly believed it was a feasible project.

Michael Casey

“I thought, that’s a brilliant idea. To do something like this digital film with a story that goes with the technology, one complementing the other. I thought we will definitely get some money for this, even if we do have to put it on our credit cards.”

Fortunately, on the strength of the script the pair amassed a £2 million budget combining funding from the Irish Film Board, the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, Section 481 tax incentives, sale and leaseback and a final injection of funds from heavyweight Universal Pictures.

Although the film is set in the dark streets of London, the entire production was filmed on location in Belfast’s disused Crumlin Road jail. Initially, plans were laid to shoot some scenes in London but Casey says this would have been an unnecessary expense.

“The city landscapes in Belfast lend themselves to the bleakness (of the film) and the scale that you would get in London… as we got nearer and nearer production, we really felt that we didn’t need to film in London. What it would offer us wasn’t a fair reflection on what it would cost.”

The production re-united most of the core team from ‘Mysterious Ways’ including DOP Mark Garret, production designer Ashleigh Jeffers and composer Debbie Wiseman, a team that sublimely entertain the viewers visual and aural senses throughout the film.

The movie was shot completely on digital video using a Sony Hi Def camera, supplied by VFG, with Lee’s “self-cam” scenes shot with Sony Mini DV, Toshiba Minicam and Super 8. Posting was handled by Screen Scene, Ardmore Sound and Hi Def transfer was handled by Hogus Bogus in Denmark. Casey believes the crew and post-production team played a pivotal role in the final impact of the film;

“Those guys contributed to the film as much as anybody else, everybody was willing to go the extra mile. I think they could see that what we were trying to do was something a little bit different and original, stretching the technology and pushing everything. Without that support, particularly at Screen Scene and then Ardmore, I don’t think we could deliver what we were attempting.”

‘Freeze Frame’ will be released in theatres in the UK and Ireland and, after its warm reception from American audiences at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, a US release is not completely impossible for Casey;

“New York audiences really got it, they really liked it, with that being a reasonable yardstick for how critical and aggressive American audiences can be, you’d like to think we have a shot at it.”

Since ‘Freeze Frame’ Casey is fast becoming a major player within the Irish film industry and was recently selected as Ireland’s producer on the move at the Cannes Film Festival. Owner of production company Green Park Films, he is currently co-producing ‘The Mighty Celt’ starring Robert Carlyle and Gillian Anderson, which has been shooting in Belfast since late May, and has another feature entitled ‘Middletown’ pencilled in for production later this year. The 32 year old is still as determined as ever,

“The trick is to try and keep things going, rather than get back to square one. I’ll keep going until I completely collapse, or at least until I get Middletown done, then I will be happy.”

‘Freeze Frame’ opens in Cinemas across the UK and Ireland from the 18th of June 2004 and is distributed by Eclipse Pictures.

Not Convinced Yet???

View the Freeze Frame Trailer in the IFTN Preview Theatre

By Tanya Warren.

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