Would You Trade Your House For A Film?
Posted on Thursday October 17, 2013, 14:00 by Nev Pierce in Under The Radar
How much do you want to make a movie? Empire has met people who have maxed out credit cards, drained life savings and remortgaged in order to fund their film dream, but never before someone who has actually sold their house so they can tell a screen story.
That was the bold step taken by Ant Neely and Sloane U’Ren, a couple who had worked in the business for years – largely as a composer and an art director, respectively – but were desperate to start telling their own stories. “We’ve got loads of friends who have spent years trying to get projects off the ground,” says Neely, “and we just got to the point where we were like, we’d hate the thought of sitting there at the end, with five minutes before you die, thinking, ‘Oh, we never did it.’ So, we decided to take a punt and go for it.”
The result is Dimensions or, to give its full title, Dimensions: A Line, A Loop, A Tangle Of Threads. It’s about as unusual as its name suggests, a distinct, peculiar and startlingly original film. This isn’t a backhanded compliment: it’s well-performed, engrossing and moving. Perhaps if HG Wells rewrote Downton Abbey you might come close to the tone of its period science fiction, which casts Henry Lloyd-Hughes as a scientist who becomes obsessed with travelling through time – or dimensions – to revisit a tragedy in his youth. The elevator pitch, it’s fair to say, isn’t exactly Transformers IV: “I guess, in a nutshell, it's this ultimate love thing, this scientist has gone through his whole life and he's still so heartbroken by losing his friend as a kid, he'll dedicate his whole life to going back. And he knows it might only be a few minutes he gets with her, but he's willing to sacrifice his whole life for those few minutes. In a way, it’s about that purest form of love.”
There were certainly safer bets to make, in terms of material. “Perhaps we could have gone and made a horror film or a gangster film,” says Neely, “But there are so many of them. And sometimes you get great ones, but our heart wasn’t in it. We just thought we might only have one chance to do this – we haven’t got a string of houses to sell!”
Neely wrote the script and the score, as well as producing alongside U’Ren, who also directed. Releasing it has been perhaps as hard as making it, with the 21-day shoot followed by a year of post-production, calling in favours while making scant resources stretch, and then more months to secure distribution. At the Boston Science Fiction Film Festival, it won the Gort Award (previously awarded to, among others, Duncan Jones’s Moon) and it's touring cinemas in the States, while hitting DVD and VOD in the UK.
So now, after all the work, Dimensions is finally available to a wide audience. But whether it takes off or not, the decision for the makers has already been justified. “Sloane and I talked about this for ages and we sat down and said, ‘Honestly, if we lose everything here, we lose all the money and all we have at the end of it is a film and that's as good as it gets, would we be happy that we'd still done it?’ And we honestly said to each other, ‘Yes. We would.’ So at that point, in a way, the money had gone and it was easy.”
Dimensions is available on DVD and streaming from Friday 18th October.