A moment with Lycanthropy Director Alexander Black

Alexander Black’s Lycanthropy touches on child abuse, a subject that is sadly more prevalent during the Coronavirus lockdown. This British crime drama has already won multiple awards and has been selected for over thirty high profile international film festivals.

Lycanthropy follows two detectives the troubled Mark Kessler and his partner John Mills, as they search for a missing girl in a suspected case of child abduction. When the case comes to standstill, Kessler decides to take matters into his own hands. 

Alexander Black works as a Director/Writer and Creative Producer in London. He was born in Germany, to Romanian parents, giving Alex the chance to experience various cultures. His focus is on telling stories with a broad appeal that have an underlying commentary about our society. Black is currently developing his first feature film “New Washington”. He has worked for VICE, The Economist, Google and several production companies.

There is an art to making a good thriller, is that something you put a lot of thought into?
Yes, absolutely! There are quite a few elements that go into a good thriller such as suspense and a specific look and feel. I tried to keep true to the genre conventions of the investigative thriller, as much as I could in a short film format. However, I personally love thrillers that support their narrative through all visual aspects. A really good examples is Se7en by David Fincher. Lycanthropy’s DoP Kurt Riddell and I worked hard on creating a visual language that matched the intensity of the film, adjusting the composition, colour, camera movement and more as needed.

With Corona Virus some police man seem to be taking the law into their own hands which was also the case with your lead character in Lycanthropy. Was this character inspired by a real or fictional person?
The actions of DCI Kessler in the film are extreme and not based directly on a real case. Nonetheless, the short aims to show the tensions and frustrations that might arise in a real world case. There is a huge amount of pressure on the police force and other professional dealing with child abuse cases. It can not only be difficult to solve a case, but it can be even harder to provide enough evidence and find justice.

We tend to have a fascination with crime drama’s, what do you think it is about this genre that fascinates us so much?
I believe the crime genre gives us an insight into the human psyche. Crimes tend to occur, not because criminals are inherently evil, but because they loose control. These extreme manifestations of our thoughts show us a bit of the inner workings of some people, and that is fascinating. The human mind is complex and will forever provide us with new puzzles and mysteries to solve.

What did you learn during the shoot?
This was an ambitious shoot on a tiny budget, which made the production difficult, but I also leaned a lot. I learned how to get the most out of my budget and my team. I also learned how to improvise and how to handle tasks I’ve never done before
However, most-importantly, I now understand the value of time on a film set. Due to the tight budget, we had to get everything in the can in only four days, roughly 2 takes per shot, which is intense. More time allows you to work more with your actors, to experiment, to let the story breathe, and to contemplate your choices.

Your film stands out and could be made into a TV series or a feature, is this something you have considered?
Lycanthropy was always planned as a standalone story, but it is certainly a proof of concept for me when it comes to the thriller genre. I aim to use Lycanthropy to get my first feature film off the ground. I’m currently finalising my script for “New Washington”, a sci-fi thriller feature film that is set in a post-apocalyptic world. Similar to Lycanthropy it is an investigative thriller, but the underlying theme focuses on institutional racism. Nonetheless, I would not fully rule out a longer version of Lycanthropy if there is the demand and if the opportunity arises.

In such a short space of time your film has been selected for a huge amount of festivals, what do you think it is about the film that stands out?
The film has pretty high production values and a distinct look and feel. It is also not your typical short film which seems to have cut through and found an audience.

How do you feel about the current climate of films being shown online at film festivals?
It is definitely a bit odd. I would have loved to meet new people at some of the global festivals we’ve been selected for. Quite a few have gone digital. However, I hope that filmmakers and audiences embrace this. Hopefully we reach a wider audience this way and I still hope to connect with some filmmakers and viewers, at least digitally!

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