The Midge (UK-2010; short [11:22 min.]; dir. Rory Lowe)
To quote Wikipedia: “Midges comprise many kinds of very small two-winged flies found world-wide. The term does not encapsulate a well-defined taxonomic group, but includes animals in several families of Nematoceran Diptera.”
The short film, The Midge, directed with style by Rory Lowe, gives little back-story or explanation for its events, but uses sensuous, high-resolution photography and a subtly disturbing soundscape to forge a connection between sexual uncertainty and a horror scenario involving a new breed of insect. Flesh, sex, infestation and insemination are intertwined through superb close-up photography of insects and CGI imagery, as well as subtle performances from its two human principles.
Without being overly insistent, Lowe and his team fill the woodland in which a young woman and her sexually inexperienced boyfriend take part in a game of seduction with menace and a growing sense of dread — the external threat giving metaphorical force to the young man’s sexual fear. It is subtle, happening without the methodology becoming obvious, at least in most instances. Take a look at the film and I think you’ll see what I mean. The imagery is carefully chosen, so that the young man’s internal uncertainties are everywhere reflected and enhanced — until consummation brings sex and fear together in a bloody moment of conception.
Sound is used beautifully, too, giving the soundscape of the woods and the growing presence of the insects a music of their own. It is a quiet symphony, in which human dialogue seems almost discordant, and making the end even more inevitable.
Director Rory Lowe gave Undead Backbrain an insight into the making of the film:
It was quite an experience making the film, a huge learning process. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I’m proud of it and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot along the way!
In true horror film style we had some fairly major incidents along the way, too. On the first take of the first day the Steadicam guy had an accident and smashed the RED cam, not a good start but we managed to sort it out enough to tentatively continue. The actress — Amy — became ill on the second day of the shoot – something to do with swimming in that lake possibly… It was her 30th birthday and she was stuck in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere with no-one about and no phone reception. She got well enough to shoot again but for some of the Macro scenes we had to prop her up whilst we filmed around her in extreme Macro! We also nearly killed the boy — Sean — he hyperventilated shooting the scene at the end where you see his face upside down looking more and more freaked out. It was a great shot and we struggled to contain ourselves from bursting out with laughter as he performed it several times. We didn’t have the time or money to set any of that up in a studio so it was all filmed in a tent in the hot sun at the edge of a field. It got very, very hot in there and shooting the last part when Amy has her head on Sean’s chest, he is heavy breathing and the breathing suddenly stops. We’d done about 4 takes when Sean suddenly did it completely wrong. He went all floppy and lay down. He gave me a blank look as I called first positions again and got ready for another take. After a couple of blinks he asked if he could have a moment and it became apparent that he’d blacked out from hyperventilation. Imagine it from his perspective, as he told us afterwards: he woke up in a hot sweaty tent in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what was going on or how he’d got there — he didn’t know any of us before hand — he had a hot young scantily clad lady on top of him ready to ride him like a wild animal and a bunch of big hairy sweaty men around him filming it all! For a moment he wondered where his life had gone wrong and he’d got into porn!
We had a great time making and I’m hugely grateful to everyone who helped out. It was made for next to nothing, just enough for us to hire the camera and feed everyone! Just. I learned a massive amount in the process and I’m really looking forward to pushing it further in the future.
Lowe added that he hoped he might be able to turn The Midge into a feature film one day.
Sources: Rory Lowe via Avery Guerra. Written by Robert Hood.