Now seems like an important time for film in Nottingham, and that has largely been thanks to the emergence of new groups who are striving to connect the city with the rest of the industry. Cue Samantha Richardson (one of Canning Circus’ own) and her partner in crime, Matteo Rolleri. This dynamic duo have set up an ambitious sales company, and they now represent a sturdy bridge between Nottingham and a number of new American indie films which existed just beneath the mainstream.
Known as Devilworks, this outfit seems like a very fitting local riposte to America’s own Dreamworks, because unlike this American company, Devilworks isn’t interested in cutesy and family-friendly films. No, like the city itself, they’re genre hungry and thirsty for the macabre. Which is exactly what they’ve found with Bradley King’s Time Lapse (USA, 2014), a film which the company is also releasing through a number of forward-looking view-on-demand platforms (and you can find these for yourself here).
Now you’re probably already familiar with “time lapse,” that technique where images are taken periodically and placed together to show rapid movements or the passage of time. But don’t worry, Time Lapse isn’t an interminable, feature-length version of that! Instead, this film’s premise is much more compelling. It follows three friends who discover a machine that takes pictures of events twenty-four hours into the future… And that seems totally awesome, right?
Well, unfortunately for the protagonists, it isn’t. This machine – which looks brilliantly like a giant, low-tech film projector from the makers of Back to the Future – actually proves to be something of a camera obscura. In fact, King’s Time Lapse could perhaps bizarrely be best summed up by a line from Oscar Wilde: “when the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers,” because that’s sort of what we see. Dreams get answered, and then things go bat-shit crazy.
Taking Wilde as a reference point for this film (which has now won a number of awards) may not be that ridiculous, either. The film’s triumvirate (made up of couple Callie and Finn, and their friend Jasper) all seem to be fusty antiquarians and hipster American types. But the film also shares Wilde’s superstitious leanings, and King has clearly put great effort into delving into the West’s folkloric past.
He cleverly dips, for example, into the age-old “be careful what you wish for” motif, which stretches right back to Greek mythology. And references in his world seen through a looking glass seem to proliferate into wider popular culture too. So Time Lapse frequently draws more widely (and sometimes a little ham-fistedly) on tropes like that of the golden goose, the soothsayer’s ball or the magic red pill, creating a tissue of superstition or voodoo sci-fi that proves to be very watchable.
But perhaps the most enjoyable thing about this film is knowing what’s coming, and then seeing the script deliver these events in ways you never saw coming. As a result, the film definitely demonstrates exciting (although sometimes almost YouTube-esque) fresh talent, and Devilworks have done well to find this new voice.