Ben Wheatley, known for his films High Rise (2015), Sightseers (2012) and Kill List (2011), has been touring independent cinemas (including our very own Phoenix Cinema in Leicester) throughout the UK this year screening his newest feature, Free Fire and answering questions from audience members.
Free Fire, features an ensemble cast of actors including Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer, Sharlto Copley, Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley, Sam Riley and Noah Taylor. The film is set in 1970’s Boston in a warehouse where two gangs attempt to exchange money and arms, however the deal goes awry and a shoot-out ensues. Wheatley once again, collaborates on writing with his wife, Amy Jump to create a witty, quotable and exciting film.
After the screening of the film, Wheatley introduced himself and took a photo of the audience which he then tweeted. Wheatley discussed why the gun shots in the film seem so much louder and vociferous in comparison to other films. The first gun shots are fired by Chris (Cillian Murphy) and the reason they sound so deafening is that in the five minutes leading up to the shots, the volume is much quieter for audiences. He also discussed how the gun shot sounds were captured by the sound designers. Instead of firing blanks, the designers visited the Ministry of Defence and they recorded the actual sound of guns and to prevent the audience from becoming tired of the same noises, they made sure there were a range of different sounds. The sound also mimics how the character’s ears would respond to the constant high volume, making the shots less impactful and loud as the film progresses.
When asked about his use of violence and genre within film, Wheatley and the audience laughed when he mentioned Logan and its seemingly immense and excessive violence for a 15-rated film. Despite Wheatley’s films always seeming to emerge from different genres, an audience member pointed out the recurring pessimistic themes, which if he would get the chance to make a Hollywood film, he’d likely have less creative control over. He cited his interest in creating an action film adapted from the Hard-Boiled comic mini-series and that if he were to make a Rom-Com in the future, it would have pessimistic undertones like Free Fire, and he laughed when he said it was probably the least pessimistic film he’s done.
I asked Ben at the end of the Q&A if he had any advice for DMU students interested in film production and he said not to wait for a budget, if you want to make a film just do it off your own back. In a film world dominated by budgets and profits, this is poignant advice. Don’t wait.
The film is on general release in the UK, 31st March 2017.