Interview with Luke Martin and James Alexander Allen of ‘Edge of Insanity’

Crime fascinates and repels us all at the same time, and detective stories draw us into their dark and complex webs and the characters hidden within. When the chance arose to develop a sequel to a 2016 short ‘The Private Investigator’ by BRIFF alum Alex Lines, writer James Alexander Allen and director Luke Martin joined forces along with the original actor Wayne Liversidge. Using the dark and gritty streets of Brighton as their backdrop, the drama tells the story of a mute private investigator obsessed with murders who is recruited by the police. We are always thrilled to feature films made in Brighton, especially those that leave you wanting more, and ‘Edge of Insanity’ has you questioning every piece of the puzzle whilst keeping a formidable pace and momentum throughout.

How did you come to be working together on this film?

James Allen: After writing the first draft of the script in 2018, and getting Alex Lines’ blessing on it, I began collaborating with Luke as the director. We had so many ideas that the script practically doubled in length, so we had to work hard to trim it back. But this process brought out some beautiful gems, especially from Anne Kavanagh’s character Norma. 

Luke Martin: I had seen the first film, ‘The Private Investigator’ and was extremely impressed with the economical way it was put together. It was evident that it was made with very little budget, only starring Wayne and shot in one location. I’m always impressed when a clever and interesting story can be told with next to no resources. I was approached to get involved with the sequel and I liked a lot of what it contained and felt it had potential, so I agreed to direct the project. I felt there was a great opportunity to expand upon Trevor’s character, and offer a little bit of backstory. One of the things that I liked about ‘The Private Investigator’ was Trevor’s condition. He suffers from aphonia, so he’s mute, and I thought it could be interesting if we could explore that a bit further. After researching into aphonia and discovering that it could potentially be caused by trauma, I saw the opportunity to be creative and carry on telling his story. Has Trevor always had this condition, and if not, what caused it, and when? 

Wayne Liversidge – “Trevor Murphy”

How much did you take from the original script by Alex Lines and how did you find the task of writing a sequel?

James: I remember going through the original film and looking at each location presented and making sure the real life street names were mentioned in dialogue. We’ve been through a couple of revisions over the years but I recall at one point you could almost have blended the two together into one movie! It was my first time developing a script for a movie I knew would be directed by someone else, so that was quite a buzz from a career standpoint.

Can you go into more detail about the development of the script and what you specifically wanted to include?

James: The original version was a lot more sprawling with several subplots. The element that I started with in the very beginning and that I was anxious to maintain was the idea of Trevor and the Cinderella Killer being “two sides of the same coin,” as Sarah Milton’s character describes them. The biggest development when Luke came on board was that the character of Norma the landlady (played by Anne Kavanagh) become far more prominent in the story than the walk-on part she had originally.

Luke: The initial script by James had a bigger focus on a copycat killer, which was an intriguing idea but I felt it took too much centre stage and demanded a more challenging setup.  Personally, I was more interested in the character of Trevor and what drives him. I sat with James and discussed that, and we began working on trimming certain elements and replacing them with more practical, but also more intriguing, elements that tie in with backstory.

Anne Kavanagh – “Norma”

How did you then move from the ideas stage and script into the more practical elements?

Luke: It was always agreed, very early on with the cast and crew, that this production would take a little while. We initially had no budget and agreed that the shoot would take place over various weekends, when everyone was available. This project was always going to be more challenging, as the script demanded we had more characters, more locations etc., compared to ‘Private Investigator’. We initially started shooting a few scenes just with Wayne, and once we had those under our belt, we planned some of the bigger scenes. At that point, we had accumulated a bit of budget, and I started casting for the roles of Claire and Norma.

We shot the film over the course of 4-6 months, post-production, as always, took quite a bit of time and whilst all of the shots were fine, I had quite a bit of work to do to clean up dialogue and add sound effects. Overall the film took around 3 years to fully finish. That is obviously quite a long time to make a short film, but due to schedules, a small budget and my final year in Film School, it took a bit longer. 

Sarah Milton – “Claire Stanwick”

What is your MO in postproduction to attain your final product?

Luke: I begin editing the ending, it sounds odd, but if I can get the ending just right, then the rest falls into place a little. For me, the ending is the most important part of a story, so it has to be strong. Editing is all about rhythm and emotion, and I feel that if I can finetune the ending and make it work, then I can just start working backwards from that point. After that, everything goes out of the window – I watch the film 60 plus times, pull my hair out, and wonder why I got involved in the project in the first place!

There seems to be a fabulously collaborative work ethic between all of you – how do you achieve this and how do you think it helped the film?

James: Wayne and I have worked together a few times since 2016 on numerous short projects and one stage play. I met Luke through this project, and found that the more I got to know him personally, the faster and more efficiently we worked together. I recall we’d take the better part of a day to break a draft at the start of the process, and by the end we were writing fresh drafts in about 15 minutes. It goes to show that this industry is all about relationships.

Luke: I think, first and foremost, we are all friends. That helps massively. Additionally, everyone in the crew has their own passion, whether it be James and his writing or Adam with his music/sound production. So, we already had a bit of a rag tag crew that were willing to spend time in their own field. We didn’t really have to source for additional crew (apart from Jakub, who came on board as DoP). The fact that we are all friends made the shoot as stress free as possible. In the end, we were just having a bit of fun. Some of my favourite films growing up, I’ve looked at them and thought, I bet they had fun making that. I think that can resonate into the film. Also, we had hardly any money.  From my point of view, that takes a bit of pressure off, as whatever you produce, you will be proud that you did it on a less than shoe-string budget. Plus, I think it makes you get more creative, when you know you have financial restrictions.

What do you hope for the film?

Luke: In simple terms, that people watching it find it an interesting story and a good follow up from the first film. It sounds cheesy, but I actually just wanted to do justice and make a film that at the very least, equals the first film. I’ve met Alex (writer and director of ‘Private Investigator’), and he’s such a nice bloke, so I wanted him to be proud of the story we told.  He says he likes it, so hopefully we did a good job.  The way ‘Edge’ finishes, there is potential, I feel, for maybe one more film. In my mind, this is a 3-part story.  In my opinion, I know how Trevor’s story ends, and I think we have been given an opportunity to potentially tell it one more time. Whether it’s me directing or someone else, I will make sure I pass on my thoughts about a final chapter.

‘Edge of Insanity’ screens at 4.30 – 6.00 pm on Friday the 22nd of July 2022 at Rialto Theatre as part of BRIFF’s 3rd screening programme where we will also be presenting a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s