Merlyn’s latest short film, Boxed Man derives from a simple concept of how humanity can become boxed into their own lives, with technology, office blocks, and packaging taking over our living space.
Where this film differs from other shorts, is its ability to use DSLR cameras to create movement and increase our visual perception of storytelling. Some of his influences include Jonathan Glazer, and director David Fincher.
Merlyn’s ‘Boxed Man’ is just one of many short films shot on DSLRs around the world. Short form content has become a big marketing tool via the web for film studios, companies and individuals, and creating innovative concepts like this, is big business.
Boxed Man Short Film
Find out how Merlyn created his short film and get an insight into what can be achieved in a low budget situation using DSLR technology and good indie filmmaking intuition.
Interview with Merlyn Haycraft
Iain: How did you create the concept for Boxed Man?
Merlyn: I originally came up with the idea about five years ago while still at film school. Initially I thought it would work best as a commercial, and I’d wanted to do something that relied on strong visuals, a voice-over and very fast cutting.
Then after living a rather boxed in life and feeling very oppressed for the first five months of 2010 I decided to develop the idea again but as a short film. Doing something ultra short also struck me as a good career move given how popular virals, YouTube and Vimeo currently are.
Iain: How big was your crew and where did you find your actors?
Merlyn: The crew was twelve in total and they very kindly worked for expenses only as we had a limited budget. The actors and voice-over artists we found through putting postings on casting websites.
In the end we only auditioned two people for the main role but one was luckily Dom Burke. In post-production I worked with editor Nigel Galt (Eyes Wide Shut). His was an invaluable contribution and he really helped with the narrative in the final part of the film.
Iain: Who do you look up to in the film industry and are there any filmmakers you would like to work with?
Merlyn: Well, for this particular film, I’d say I was very aware of the work of Jonathan Glazer, who did the brilliant Guinness Adverts in the late 90s (Swimblack, Surfer & Dreamer). Those commercials are probably my favourite shorts ever and although Boxed Man is in no way like them, I was trying to create something just as compact.
In my opinion, short films work best when they really are very short, and function like a strong joke with a good punch line. So with Boxed Man I was trying to create something that had a very strong theme running through it, and was almost like a feature film in a nutshell.
Another influence was David Fincher’s Fight Club. I’m a huge fan of Fight Club and love the kinetic style of shooting and editing that Fincher employs. I wanted to experiment with that type of directing myself and enjoy the possibilities that zooms, pans and freeze-frames afford you.
Iain: How has DSLR technology helped you make this film?
Merlyn: We shot the film on the Canon 5D Mark II with four different lenses ranging from a 17mm up to a 200mm. We had a Redrock shoulder mount but shot nearly everything on a tripod. Before Boxed Man I had previously DP’d a short film with the 5D MII and immediately fallen in love.
The brilliant thing about DSLRs, aside from them being fairly cheap and extremely high quality, is that they allow for a lot of spontaneous creativity and on-set experimentation. You can place them in a normal size fridge or kitchen cupboard and close the door without any problem.
They are also so light that you feel like you have 360 degree shot potentiality. They don’t weigh you down in the same way something like the EX3 does, which although a good camera, does get heavy after a while, and you can end up becoming more conventional in your shots as a result.
Iain: What kind of projects would you like to shoot in the future?
Merlyn: Well, I’m back at the bottom of the mountain again. I’m currently going through my old story ideas to see which film I will work on next. I would like to shoot a feature film sooner rather than later and I feel the advances in DSLR technology will allow me to do that.
It’s simply a matter of having a screenplay that’s really worth the time and energy. So we shall see, but something very different from Boxed Man I would imagine. My next film will probably be quite a bit darker.