The Neolith – The reflection of aspects within the human psyche

On the cover: Jak Corrie and Dan Boie Kratfeldt

The Neolith is a new kind of short film. It expands the boundaries and definitions of how a "short film" is typically identified. This kind of approach was his intention from the beginning, says Daniel Boocock, writer and director of "The Neolith": «I wanted to make a high quality, visually based, subjective short film that was ambitious in scope, but still had a lot of substance.» - In our view, he has been very successful in this.
First of all: 'The Neolith' contains breath-taking shots, perfect locations and atmosphere! Suddenly the viewer is moved back into the past. In which age does the film take place?

Daniel (dsbclaretandblue) : The word ‘Neolith’ has certain connotations to the past though some people have argued that its actual meaning refers to a new age, if that is the case then The Neolith can be interpreted in many ways, ultimately though it’s left for the viewer to decide for themselves where The Neolith is set. Some say past, others think future or somewhere else entirely. Some believe it’s a reflection of aspects within the human psyche. The locations and some of the subtext in the film certainly reflect that notion. Neo is also an anagram of one so there are other implications with that motif. The truth is…it doesn’t really matter where you think it is set, it’s wherever you want it to be. What it is for one person will probably be different for another. That’s what’s so cool about it. I remember after a cinema screening during a Q and A session myself, Jak Corrie and Dan Boie Kratfeldt (main cast) were asked that same question, individually each of us had a different answer. One thing is for sure though, when the film gets going you are on the hook and soon forget those types of questions. You’re focused in the nowness of it.

Daniel Boocock

What was the trigger for 'The Neolith', when did the whole game begin? Were you planning to make a film about medieval berserkers right from the beginning?

The Neolith comes from many things. Though the main driving force for it comes from certain frustrations I find in parts of a conventional day to day lifestyle. That feeling of restraint, being caged, bottled up – trapped in a way so to speak, but wanting out at the same time. I notice these things in others too, though few choose to do anything about it. They become stale and sooner or later what they bottle up starts to crack. Personally, I aim to rip any type of cage apart with my own creativity.

«Personally, I aim to rip any type of cage apart with my own creativity.»

The Neolith is a way of me expressing myself creatively and conjuring something authentic and atmospheric that draws in people as they watch it. I don’t really look at it as a ‘berserker’ piece at all. I took a few aspects from the berserker myth and incorporated them into some of the guys but this is no Viking type film, not in the slightest, it’s more enigmatic and mysterious. There is much more going on under the surface. The bad guys in The Neolith are something else entirely… Though at the end, you see the emergence of a conscience from one who is different from the rest of the characters in the film.

Still from The Neolith

To finance the film you started a crowdfunding campaign and raised 25.000 £ (about 33.000 USD). That is quite a lot for a short film. How much did the film ultimately cost in total?

…Put it this way, The Neolith feels like it is more than a short. You would think by the way it looks that it cost ten times more than it actually did.

Still from The Neolith

Where did you shoot? And how did you find these locations?

We shot on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. But the film was shot in a way which has a bit of mystery to it so you can’t really tell. I checked out a few different areas in Scotland but finally settled on Skye as the isle contained aspects of both beauty and enchantment and it also has that unpredictable sense of spectacular prehistoric brutality. Particularly in the black Cuillin mountain region where a good portion of the film was shot. I went on lots of prep trips before the actual shoot so I could fully understand what I was getting into not just creatively but logistics-wise too. Overall, I checked out 50 or so spots on Skye. For the finished film I used 9 or 10.

Behind the scenes of The Neolith

How long did the production of the film take? And what was the biggest challenge? Was it the constantly changing weather during the shooting? Or rather the make-up of the berserkers…

For the actual shoot itself we were on Skye for 19 days. The biggest challenge was getting everyone and everything into some of the really off-road secluded locations to film. Though difficult it was manageable. If anybody was not up to it for whatever reason, they would be left in the lodgings whilst somebody else took over. The most unpredictable thing was working with or around what the weather would impose upon us on a daily basis. I got caught out many times on the prep trips and would be weathered off from getting into certain locations.

«I remember seeing the entire waterfall blow backwards and splat and shake passing cars amidst some insane weather.»

Sometimes it was dangerous just to drive, never mind walking around, hiking or sailing in gales and storms. I remember driving past a famous spot on Skye called Kilt rock and seeing the entire waterfall blow backwards and splat and shake passing cars amidst some insane weather. I got out of my vehicle, took a closer look and said to my cousin who was with me “this is my kind of place!” He just started laughing. The 19 day shoot was a way of making sure that if we were caught out In any way because of the weather we would have the time and back up plans to make that time back and get what we may have missed. Luckily enough the weather worked in our favour for the most part on the actual shoot.

Behind the scenes of The Neolith

One year before 'The Neolith' you shot 'The Desolate One'. That one also plays outside in the rough nature, on Mount Snowdon in Wales, UK. Do you think you have found your niche, rough nature, rocks and mountain peaks?

I wouldn’t say it was my niche in a specific kind of way, those types of places offer a lot visually and I am comfortable in chaotic conditions, not many people have the nerve to shoot in them. Though such locations can be crazy and difficult to navigate I find them very exciting to film in and they can open up certain parts of your mind. Actors feel the reality and unpredictability of them too. It can enhance a performance. Ultimately though it’s all about the story. I pick locations which reflect certain character dynamics and conflicts that are relevant to the flow of what is going on. Unique locations contain all kinds of metaphors which enhance certain story elements in a subtle kind of way. You may not be able to decipher that first-hand when you watch my films but sub consciously the intent from me is there. It does make a difference to the overall finished piece. You feel it when you are engaged in the action of what’s going on even if you can’t fully describe it. I would be just as specific picking locations in an urban setting or designing somewhere in outer space too. Not just with locations but with how light and sound are used as well. Again, whatever the story needs to be brought to life in the best possible way. Everything is connected.

Behind the scenes of The Neolith

Are you currently working on another project?

«My intent is to do big things creatively but with substance.»

There are so many things I want to do at various levels… the shackles are ready to be ripped off and I’m hungry to be let loose once again. If people think The Neolith is a statement of intent then what I plan to do next more than ups the stakes in a way totally different from what everybody else is doing. My intent is to do big things creatively but with substance. I’m setting the tone for that now particularly with The Neolith. Going forward the content is there on my end and I’m specifically moving towards 2 of several projects. One is a feature similar in tone and atmosphere to The Neolith, the other a more contemporary piece that’s a prelude to a larger tv series. There is a lot more to do to make them happen, though that being said I’m 100 % ready to go. I can’t see myself being stopped in the long run. It’s only a matter of time before I find myself exactly where I want to be.

Behind the scenes of The Neolith

The Neolith is an Official Selection of Retrospective of Jupiter.
Watch The Neolith