FLITtitle

Preproduction

The Idea

Understandably the idea of FLIT is all rather odd – and, as you sit there mindlessly scrolling through this rather wonderful website, you’re probably thinking to yourself; how did FLIT come about?

It all started on a perfectly ordinary summer afternoon…

I have never been particularly fond of flies—annoying pests that are at their most annoying when they keep landing on you, despite your best efforts to swat them out of the air before they land on you again. This very thing happened to me whilst I was sitting in the sun, minding my own business, and desperately racking my brains for story ideas. As my pen was inches away from pa-per, no doubt about to write something incredibly insightful and artistic, my train of thought was viciously derailed by an obnoxious landing carried out by a fly on my arm. I flicked it away nonchalantly, about to tend to the derailed train, when the fly made another landing. About to initiate another flick, I stopped myself quickly before the fly spotted too much movement in its peripheral bulb-vision. I slowly lowered my arm and simply observed the fly—it turned out to be quite interesting, it wandered around quite happily on my arm. At this point I suddenly had a thought: what if we left flies alone—if we orchestrated a global ceasefire whereby people stopped using various weapons to kill flies and we simply left them be. If given that chance, would flies work together and create something great?

The answer that I quickly came to is that they almost certainly wouldn’t do any-thing too extravagant—although it got me thinking. And, after a little bit of thinking here and there, FLIT was born, with fly civilisation and all.

The Script

At the heart of the film is the script, and it went through many versions and drafts as I tried to work out how best to tell Carl’s story. All the way from having a ‘Swat Team’ come to his rescue, to having an evil mayor trying to squash his fly friend – the story could have gone in all sorts of directions. Eventually, however, I opted for a more contained narrative; with everything taking place in one room and with only two characters, designed to allow audiences to really get to know Carl and his friend without being distracted by unnecessary characters of locations.

One of the major underlying themes of FLIT is the unity between the unifiable, with this taking the form of the unlikely friendship between Carl and the fly. The development of this friendship takes Carl down a path of significant change, turning him from the world’s best fly killer, to a man that wouldn’t hurt a fly. This evolution alone captures the essence of this theme, yet it is pushed even further by having him turn himself into a fly at the end, to join in on the fun with his fly friend. Carl’s final action as a human is intended to add a certain level of complexity to the story—up until then, the development of the friendship in itself is somewhat remarkable but not totally alien to audiences. The act of turning himself into a fly is hopefully something that comes as a complete surprise to audiences and pushes audiences to think about Carl’s motivations for doing so.

Another heavily explored theme is the conflict between man and nature. We initially start firmly on the side of Carl – even sometimes egging him on to crush the fly with all his might, with audiences getting wrapped up in the theatrics of the various weapons that he uses. This excitement suddenly comes to an abrupt standstill when Carl finds the fly civilisation. This discovery should surprise audiences – having us now sit upright, almost re-evaluating the world in the same way that Carl is now forced to. Conflict between man and nature now comes to a ceasefire -with audiences being encouraged to tone down the hostilities towards the fly as it redesigns the blueprints. And with Carl’s decision to build the fly’s machine, we start to see a bond develop between him and the insect, and in turn see relations between man and nature thaw. Things come to a head when Carl thinks that the fly has been killed – with man and nature’s relationship at this point being proven to have truly changed with Carl’s genuine distress at the death of his new-found friend. Finally, all chance of further conflict between man and nature is rendered im-possible when Carl realises that he and the fly aren’t so different after all. By changing himself into a fly, he accepts the unity between man and nature – and accepts that man is better off as part of nature.

Having no dialogue throughout also posed a challenge; everything would have to come across either visually or orally. This gave me a chance to revist some of my favourite film works for inspiration and guidance, namely; Charlie Chaplin, Mr. Bean, and Tom & Jerry. For this reason the script may look rather odd, as it features features actions exclusively. Also notice how the final film doesn’t quite stick exactly to the script; I quickly learnt that there are always quirks during shooting that you need to adapt to if you wish to come out the other side with a film.

I’ve broken down various aspects of the making of FLIT below. In Preproduction, you’ll find things like the script and concept art. In Production you’ll find behind the scenes photos and the building of set pieces. Finally, in Post Production you’ll gain insight into how the fly was created and animated into scenes.

The Script

Creating Carl

Initially, during the early days of working out what sort of person Carl was, I had outlined that he was a cross between Mr Bean and Doc, from Back to the Future. The visual expressiveness of Mr Bean and the boffin-like air of Doc are both characteristics that lend themselves well to Carl. This was useful as an early guide but Carl had to eventually carve his own persona into the script.

A significant facet of his character is that he is scared of flies – this provided ample motivation for his noble and extravagant pursuits of fly killing technology. This also allowed us to have fun with Carl when things go wrong for him in the lab – we could show his confidence falter and have him race around frantically trying to kill the fly but maintaining a safe distance all times in case it suddenly decides to turn on him.

As I went about thinking more about Carl, another heavy influence was Tom from Tom & Jerry. Tom’s sheer ruthlessness is an excellent reference for Carl’s behaviour during his chasing of the fly – a hungry viciousness that can only be satisfied with the death of Jerry, or a fly in this case. Tom, although ruthless for the vast majority of his screen time, also sometimes shows true sensitivity and care when tricked by Jerry into believing he has been hurt. These moments were truly useful influences when it came to portraying Carl as he changed his attitude towards the fly and started showing his softer side.

Carl’s costume also acts as an indicator of character. We decided to have him wear a smart waistcoat and bow-tie – suggesting he cares somewhat for his appearance. However, we aged the costume, giving it a scruffy appearance, indicating Carl’s complete dedication to the work at hand in his lab, neglecting his once-smart clothes to pursue greater goals.

Costume design by Lovisa Litsgård

Onto the next phase:

With writing and concept planning complete, it was time to move on to building the set and shooting the film itself.