A macabre and blackly comic revenge drama that takes sibling loyalty to the hidden dark corners of leafy suburbia.
Poison Tree is the next in an eclectic catalogue of beautiful, macabre and darkly comic short films from Nottingham's very own twin-talents, John and Tom Turrell. Inspired by a mixture of William Blake and the overwhelming feeling of unrest that can come over oneself when you think, "Oh my God - I could literally do anything right now and no one would be able to stop me", comes Poison Tree.
It is the story of Shirley, a young woman out to avenge her sister's untimely death by gatecrashing the birthday party of an old school friend, the sort of birthday party that only leafy middle class England could make so excruciatingly prim and proper.
John and Tom Turrell, aged 28, have been making films since their early teens, much to the balanced annoyance and pleasure of their friends and family. They are self-shooting, self-editing and sometimes self-starring filmmakers who enjoy devising their own idiosyncratic worlds - where strange is just as commonplace as ordinary. But now, they're ready for the next stage in their career and Poison Tree, an intelligent and intensely evocative drama, will be the calling card for their debut feature film. Check out their website, and a handpicked selection of their previous films, here...
And you're right, they can't. That's why they're working with Anna Griffin and Rachel Dargavel, the women behind Nottingham production company, Crybaby and will be mentored by Simon Ellis, famed as one of, if not the best, short filmmakers in the land.
Producer - Anna Griffin
Anna found her feet in research and development working with Great Dane, Nicolas Winding Refn, on Bronson, Valhalla Rises and Only God Forgives. As well as working with Crybaby, Anna works with BAFTA nominated production company, Wellington Films, where she is developing her debut feature film, and is also in the final stages of her feature documentary project, Paa Joe & The Lion, with award winning filmmaker Ben Wigley and his company Artdocs. In 2013, Rachel (who got Anna her first film job) decided that they should be making films together. Poison Tree will be the women's first project under the small but perfectly formed production studio, Crybaby.
Executive Producer - Rachel Dargavel
Rachel has recently seen her debut feature film, Norfolk, premiere at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival and it is due to hit cinema screens very soon. Rachel is an experienced Line Producer and Producer whose credits include Song For Marion, Weekend and most recently, 45 Years. She has great taste and even better dance moves.
Director Mentor - Simon Ellis
Simon's short films have received many international festival awards and have been presented collectively in retrospective programmes at over a dozen film festivals worldwide. His BAFTA nominated and European Academy Award winning short film, Soft, won 38 prizes including the International Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Best Short Film at the BIFAs. He is the only director to feature twice in the prestigious Cinema 16 DVD series amongst heavyweights Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton and Mike Leigh. We couldn't hope for a better mentor for the project. Plus, Simon is also from Notts, d'ya get meh?
We are thrilled to be able to say that Poison Tree is supported by Creative England through their iShorts scheme and with this initiative comes a framework of industry support, which is kind-of invaluable. Poison Tree is an ambitious and thought-provoking drama that straddles the ordinary and the bizarre. In order for the film to be achieved to the level that the script deserves, the filmmakers need a crew of professional individuals and creative personnel around them, some fantastic locations, some heart-stopping performances from their lead cast, and, of course, nutritious food to keep everyone healthy and full of energy.
If we reach our £10,000 target YOUR money will be spent on:
Tom Turrell is a super talented pianist and composer whose work you can hear here. Music is the expression of emotion and Poison Tree is laced with emotive tension between its characters. With this film, Tom & John would love the opportunity to work collaboratively with an established composer and musician who can help to create the world that our characters walk through, building an immersive soundscape that our audience, as with our characters, can't escape from.
As an emotionally complex piece, Poison Tree demands great performances. We will spend time auditioning and rehearsing to find our lead cast who will take us through Shirley's extraordinary world. We are very excited to be able to say that we are working with one of the industry's finest casting houses, Shaheen Baig Casting, to help us in our quest to find and attach talent of the highest calibre.
Travel & Accommodation
As a regional based filmmaking team, we know only too well how expensive it can be to film in the regions. This isn't because things are more expensive outside of London (of course not!) but because since the demise of the UK Film Council and its surrounding regional screen agencies, many crew members have been forced to relocate to the country's capital in order to remain in constant work. This means that traveling crew and ensuring they have a home-from-home becomes a very important line in any regional production's budget.
Camera & Lighting Equipment
Poison Tree will be cinematic and bold and take the audience to a lustrous, eerie and textured world. To do this, we need some great camera and lighting equipment for our Director of Photography to get their hands on. We will aim high with our camera specs and are looking to join forces with Arri and utilise their fantastic Alexa camera. Click here to see just a few of the beautiful and visually absorbing feature films that have been shot on this camera in recent years. This will also prove to be a vital technical step forward for John and Tom as filmmakers.
Poison Tree has two "hero" locations - Shirley's house, where she lives with her griefstricken and silent father, and the birthday party house - the planned location for Shirley's revenge. These environments will be distinctly different from one another, both in terms of physicality and feel. We want to find real, lived-in and breathed-in homes to film in. Allowing a film crew into your home is a bold and brave move, and so we want to be in a position to pay home owners for allowing us to take over their environments and for their property to be seen on screen.
Along with the right location and the right camera and lighting equipment, Shirley's mysterious world and that of those around her needs to be designed and meticulously created. Props and set dressing need to be researched, sought, bought or made. We want to create a world that an audience hasn't seen before, but a world that at the same time seems weirdly familiar.
Good Food, Happy Crew
The way to a crew's heart really is through the catering and we want to work with Nottingham based food alchemist, Dena Smiles of D's Pop Up Kitchen fame. Dena's "eat yourself fit" cooking style produces delicious, low cost and easy to prepare sweet and savoury dishes free from sugar and low in gluten. Dena is a founder of Notts Nosh Artisan Producers and is a regular on the Nottingham creative-foody scene. Yummo!
We've got a stack of rewards, ranging from the bespoke to the bizarre, including an exclusive download of the film once it's complete, an exclusive take on William Blake's original A Poison Tree poem by wonderful illustrator Laura Gee, button badges, t-shirts and tote bags designed by John & Tom themselves, an exclusive Poison Tree poster design from the utterly brilliant Michael Cowell and complete one-off Poison Tree inspired pendants designed by Bolivian jewellery maker, Lorena Herrera. If you'd like all of them plus the chance to get your name on IMDb as an Associate or Executive Producer, then nab the top-spots before someone else does. And, if you're a business keen to see filmmakers being bold and taking risks with their art, then sponsorship deals are available too - get your logo included in the closing credits of the film and seen by audiences at film festivals around the world.
We can add rewards as the campaign progresses so if there's anything you think you'd like in return, get in touch and we'll see if we can make it work!
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