Hollywood North Magazine / Darren Wiesner
Ben Wheatley’s latest creation is High-Rise. It is based on the novel written in 1975 by J.G. Ballard. The screenplay was adapted by Amy Jump. Jeremy Thomas owned the rights to it. He’s known for directing Crash and Sexy Beast.
I caught up with Ben as he stopped in town for a short premiere of the film before continuing on to the Tribeca Film Festival.
Thus far, the film has premiered at TIFF, then San Sebastian, Spain. From there, Zurich Switzerland, the London Film Festival and Fantastic Fest in Austin.
The film will be distributed through Magnolia.
“What attracted you to this story?”
“I read the novel when I was a teenager in ’75. At that time it was considered ‘prediction fiction’. I read it again just a few years ago and was fascinated by the predictions in the book that were coming true.”
In the novel, skyscrapers are erected to house the wealthy at the top, the middle-class below and the poor at the bottom.
The film demonstrates privilege vs poverty and the lack of compassion for the love of comfort. A power struggle eventually ensues before a great crescendo of violence attempts to re-establish humanity in its primitive form.
It stars Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller and Luke Evans.
The film was shot in Northern Ireland for financing purposes and to utilize the Game Of Thrones crew already there.
I found it to have a post-apocalyptic feel to it.
The film High-Rise is Ben Wheatley’s fifth feature. He was directing a TV series in England before directing films.
Once taking on the production, he scouted out two locations in Northern Ireland. One was a Sports Centre and the other, a Ferry Terminal.
“We built some large sets inside the Terminal. We utilized the soccer and football fields to build apartments and corridors.”
“Can you tell me about the budget for High-Rise?”
“We took advantage of the 25% tax credit and other incentives falling slightly under 1 million pounds. The entire budget was 5 1/2 million pounds.”
“How long did it take to shoot and how long was post?”
“We shot it in eight weeks. Jeremy Irons was only available for four weeks. We had to shoot all of his scenes out of sync, then later go back to the beginning and rebuild some smashed sets, restore continuity and re-shoot the other actors’ scenes.”
“Did that complicate continuity?”
“It made it challenging. We had up to 400 bodies helping out. In saying that, I will always choose a great performance in spite of imperfect continuity. I focus on watching the actor’s face.”
“What’s your stance on storyboarding?”
“I storyboard all my shots twice, then distribute them to the crew and discuss the shots. I don’t refer to them again. I’ve still got the pictures in my head but don’t need to be married to them. Post took eight months.”