Interview with

Max Hicks

Director/Writer of

Max Hicks

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

I made Doombox as my dissertation film for an MA in Film Making at Kingston University. As students we were asked to choose a role – director, camera, editor etc – and form a crew from the other students to shoot our films. However, I’ve read “Rebel Without A Crew” by Robert Rodriguez and I wanted to see if I could make a film single-handedly, too. In the end, I needed someone to hold the boom but I did virtually everything else myself. I’m a horror fan who plays in bands and I run a guitar effects company, so the subject matter came from my own experiences… with a little embellishment.

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

Time was the biggest challenge. I shot the film over two days in July 2019, managing 112 shots from 79 camera positions in 20 hours on set. I really needed 3 days, but budget constraints meant I could only afford the location and actors for 2, so I had to work fast. The film suffered a little bit – having to shoot late on the second day meant I was forced to film in failing light and that caused some colour correction issues in post. The alternative was to just not finish the film, as I wasn’t going to be able to do any reshoots at that location. Flawed shots are better than no shots!

How has the short film been received?

‘Doombox’ has been selected for half a dozen festivals and got a screening at BFI Southbank in London and Screen25 Cinema in South Norwood which was amazing. It placed as finalist in both “Best International Film” and “Best Lead Actor” categories at Oregon Scream Week 2020, and won “Best Trailer” at that same festival. Oregon Scream Week was held at a drive-in that year because of the pandemic, and while I couldn’t fly over (again because of the pandemic), I at least got to see some photos of the film on a drive-in screen, which counts as partial fulfilment of a personal ambition.

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve only made shorts so far, so now I’m working on my first feature-length script. It’s a murder mystery. I’ve been working on it for 18 months, and the first draft is almost finished.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

Just go and do it. Use your phone to film on if you haven’t got anything else. You can get a better camera later. Need actors? Use friends and family. There are loads of free resources to help you – DaVinci is free industry-standard video editing software, YouTube is free film school. You learn the most from your mistakes, so go and make a load. While you’re doing that, read “Rebel Without A Crew” by Robert Rodriguez and “Story” by Robert McKee. Write scripts that include locations, props and people you already have access to, it’ll be easier for you to shoot that way. And be ready to become a creative problem solver, because a lot of indie film making is about finding creative solutions to problems (which is actually a lot more fun that it sounds). Your first attempt could be a thirty second film with two shots and one edit, and you’ll still feel great for making it. So why not start right now?

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Interview with

Max Hicks

Director/Writer of

Max Hicks

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

I made Doombox as my dissertation film for an MA in Film Making at Kingston University. As students we were asked to choose a role – director, camera, editor etc – and form a crew from the other students to shoot our films. However, I’ve read “Rebel Without A Crew” by Robert Rodriguez and I wanted to see if I could make a film single-handedly, too. In the end, I needed someone to hold the boom but I did virtually everything else myself. I’m a horror fan who plays in bands and I run a guitar effects company, so the subject matter came from my own experiences… with a little embellishment.

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

Time was the biggest challenge. I shot the film over two days in July 2019, managing 112 shots from 79 camera positions in 20 hours on set. I really needed 3 days, but budget constraints meant I could only afford the location and actors for 2, so I had to work fast. The film suffered a little bit – having to shoot late on the second day meant I was forced to film in failing light and that caused some colour correction issues in post. The alternative was to just not finish the film, as I wasn’t going to be able to do any reshoots at that location. Flawed shots are better than no shots!

How has the short film been received?

‘Doombox’ has been selected for half a dozen festivals and got a screening at BFI Southbank in London and Screen25 Cinema in South Norwood which was amazing. It placed as finalist in both “Best International Film” and “Best Lead Actor” categories at Oregon Scream Week 2020, and won “Best Trailer” at that same festival. Oregon Scream Week was held at a drive-in that year because of the pandemic, and while I couldn’t fly over (again because of the pandemic), I at least got to see some photos of the film on a drive-in screen, which counts as partial fulfilment of a personal ambition.

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

I’ve only made shorts so far, so now I’m working on my first feature-length script. It’s a murder mystery. I’ve been working on it for 18 months, and the first draft is almost finished.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

Just go and do it. Use your phone to film on if you haven’t got anything else. You can get a better camera later. Need actors? Use friends and family. There are loads of free resources to help you – DaVinci is free industry-standard video editing software, YouTube is free film school. You learn the most from your mistakes, so go and make a load. While you’re doing that, read “Rebel Without A Crew” by Robert Rodriguez and “Story” by Robert McKee. Write scripts that include locations, props and people you already have access to, it’ll be easier for you to shoot that way. And be ready to become a creative problem solver, because a lot of indie film making is about finding creative solutions to problems (which is actually a lot more fun that it sounds). Your first attempt could be a thirty second film with two shots and one edit, and you’ll still feel great for making it. So why not start right now?

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