Cathy Butler sinks her fangs into The Light of Day, a mockumentary about the making of a low-budget vampire horror flick. The film premiered at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.
When the opening title card appeared on screen, having characteristics suspiciously similar to Final Cut Pro default title settings, I had my doubts about The Light of Day. However, this meta-mockumentary about a disastrous film shoot defied its slightly unpromising opening.
The film was produced by students of the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course, and has at its helm not one, but three directors: Amy Carroll, Conor Dowling, and Eoin O’Neill. It follows the exploits of a film crew attempting to shoot a cheesy screen adaptation of a vampire graphic novel, led by their eccentric and incompetent director, Richie, and his beleaguered producer, Desmond.
Considering the scope of an entire cast and crew, Light of Day is truly an ensemble production. Film crews often feature diverse individuals who would never have spent time together were it not for the film they are working on, and this is used to great effect here. The cast of characters is the core of the film; the stressed yet dedicated DOP hiding from his personal problems, the writer worried about her book being butchered, the eager-to-please First AD, and a sound guy who never makes a sound, to mention but a few. The zany director figure, complete with turtleneck, is a bit of a cliché, but this ultimately serves to make more real the assorted characters surrounding him.
The film is certainly a testament to the potential of low budget or crowd-funded filmmaking – production values are high, showing what can be done by a talented crew regardless of how much money is behind a project.
This kind of self-referential film can be problematic. What if it is only enjoyable for people who know the trials of filmmaking themselves, and who can laugh out of familiarity? The film takes aspects of two of its more famous predecessors –Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion and Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s documentary Lost in La Mancha – and fuses them together, making for a very enjoyable caper, with laughs that non-filmmakers will likely partake in as well.
The DOP remarks to the producer near the close of the film that he doesn’t strike him as the kind of man that enjoys being peaceful. One might wonder if this could be said of anyone with any filmmaking inclinations. Surely such a person must have some bizarre craving for disorder, given the wealth of potential problems and personality clashes that this film uses for comic effect. Light of Day takes such disorder and turns it into an entertaining and engaging piece of comedy.