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Production Notes

Building the Laboratory:

Filming the dunking of Joseph Grigson (Joeseph Maudsley) into a tank of real (and very cold) water.

With a combined cast and crew of over 50 people, along with the support of numerous others, THE TRIAL was the most ambitious project yet undertaken by Anglo Klaxon Pictures. It involved us renting and moving into a large unoccupied warehouse unit for a month to construct four sets and shoot the film. In addition to copious floorspace, the warehouse also had kitchen and toilet facilities, two portable cabins that were used as a production office and a make-up/costume and green room space respectively, and various mezzanines that were particularly useful for set building.

One of the main challenges for the production was the construction of the climactic laboratory set. It being the centrepiece for the film created a certain amount of pressure to get it looking as impressive as possible, whilst staying within budget. A cost-effective and highly flexible solution, whilst still retaining the right aesthetic, was opting to use clear plastic sheeting for the lab walls. Setting up in the centre of the warehouse, it meant that we had total control over the size of space we wanted to have by draping the plastic down from the structure’s rafters and binding the strips together with tape. This aesthetic was partly inspired by Terry Giliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995) — a remake of Chris Marker’s lo-fi, science fiction photo-narrative La Jetée (1962).


Working Underwater:

The other challenge facing us on this production was shooting a scene underwater, which was new for all concerned. Although the tank seen in the laboratory set is real, filled with water nearly 8 feet deep, we had to use a school swimming pool to double for the tank interior once the protagonist, Joseph, is fully submerged and being “interrogated.”

For the underwater scene, we moved production into a swimming pool for better access and safety.

Despite using heating equipment, the water in the tank remained too cold for our actors and Director of Photography to work in safely. We had no choice but to reschedule the scene to take place a few weeks later, once we had moved out of our warehouse base. We found a local school with its own pool who were happy for us to come in one evening and shoot the scene. We lined the floor and walls of the pool with heavy black fabric and used the same lights used on the lab set to recreate the look.

But things were complicated further in that we also had prosthetic effects to deal with. Our effects artist arrived earlier that day to begin work on our “Detective” makeup, applying it to our actor’s arms, neck and torso. The prosthetic mask would be applied at the last possible moment as our actor would not be able to eat or drink with it on, and would ideally not be able to take it off until all his angles were shot due to its fragility. It was a tense session.

— Mark Player

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