Katie Bonham’s Midnight is a tense and eerie ride which follows Eddie, a lone man who slowly uncovers the strange history of his house. Told in a non-linear narrative with minimal dialogue, Bonham’s short winds and weaves its story, keeping you guessing at every moment – a tricky thing to do in short form storytelling! Twelve Cabins asked Bonham about creating her story this way, how she maintained Midnight’s uneasy atmosphere visually, and her obsession with ghost stories that started it all off.
How did you create the concept for Midnight?
I have always been fascinated with ghost stories, and it is a theme which comes up in my films a lot. I knew I wanted to focus on conflicting timelines between ghosts who share the same space and explore how this would play out over the space of one evening. The biggest challenge with this film was shooting it in one day and changing the set for the flat three times. It was something I had never attempted before, but it was paramount to the story, and I like setting myself challenges.
There’s such a strong, eerie atmosphere to Midnight. How did you approach telling this story on a visual level?
As there is no dialogue in Midnight it was really important to make sure the visual cues were all there, and that with each separate ghost story a clear connection could be made between them. I worked closely with DP Sashi Kissoon about how we would shoot each time zone, and how to maintain the eerie atmosphere across the intertwining stories. I also held rehearsals which solely focused on character work, without the safety of dialogue to carry the information across, it was important for the cast to explore the background of these characters and what led them to the story we see on screen.
The sound design would be instrumental in narrating the story and exploring how the timelines interact.
For sure. I really enjoyed how much of the film is ‘show don’t tell’. Is that a mantra you were thinking about when creating it?
I knew that the story didn’t need dialogue, but that the sound design would be instrumental in narrating the story and exploring how the timelines interact. I am known for not creating dialogue heavy scripts, and this is something I am always conscious of when writing. I worked closely with Sound Designer Mike Chubb who created individual soundscapes for each character, so that even if we were watching a different character, we still had the unrelentingly, constant presence of the other ghosts in the background.
As you mentioned, your timeline is non-linear, did that prove for an interesting challenge when it came to shooting?
It did! We had to shoot in character order, and as each character has their own completely different set, it meant three entire set changes, which was a big challenge to pull this off in a day. It took a lot of planning to ensure that we had coverage of reacting shots from different characters and sets for the edit. We were very organised and had various maps marking the various routes of each character through the house, how these overlapped and when. Interestingly it was actually my intention to edit Midnight character by character, but the editor, Patrick Widdop, suggested that we try and cut in and out of each character the whole way through the film. Patrick put together an alternative edit, it was great, and worked much better than my original idea. This is what film is all about, using your intuition, collaborating, and making the project that best it can be.
What’s next for you?
I am currently writing a fantasy horror feature film set in the south east of England. I also have various theatre projects coming up this year at Putney Arts Theatre and The White Bear Theatre, which I am hoping will be able to go ahead this year, Covid permitting.