Simon B. HNC Short Film: Tick Tock Repeat

I came up with the idea for Tick Tock Repeat from my love of time loop movies. Particularly Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code. My script was also influenced by Back to the Future with the usage of clocks throughout.  

I knew this was going to be a particularly challenging shoot due to being in the middle of COVID-19 lockdown. I couldn’t get a crew and because I was also the lead actor I couldn’t be behind the camera at all times. I was fortunate to have a very patient family who offered to help even though none of them had any experience making films. The biggest challenge was getting them up to speed on what they had to do in a very short time frame and taking on multiple roles that would normally be split between a much larger crew.  

Due to lockdown the short was filmed over a strict 4 day window which meant we were unable to come back at a later date if we couldn’t complete filming.  

This very strict schedule presented us with a fair amount of challenges. The first of which came after I was reviewing the footage from day 1. I noticed that a lot of the shots had hairline and other small black marks on the image itself and after some investigation realised the camera had a damaged sensor. Unfortunately due to the limited filming window I decided to persevere as the black marks weren’t too apparent on many of the shots, but the ones outside were quite noticeable. I decided to try and incorporate this “dirty” look into the film itself with the title sequence and colour grading.  

I made several major changes overall from production. The first being the removal of the scene in which a mouth can be seen on a television whispering “tick tock”. This stayed in the cut until the very last day of the edit because I actually really liked how this scene turned out, but unfortunately it just didn’t fit well with the pacing on the rest of the film and narratively it didn’t make much sense how the main character only heard this television in one of his loops when it would have actually been playing in all of them.  

Another major change was how the bathroom scene was shot. In the script it is written that the bathroom mirror begins to steam up and the words “Tick Tock” are written on the steamed up mirror. Unfortunately it proved a bit too difficult to get this practically working on set and we ended up wasting too much time trying to get condensation on the mirror.  

Due to my shots and camera quality not being 100% I decided to focus on what I could control which was the edit. The colour grading was particularly important to me as I wanted it to have that classic cinematic look while also appearing somewhat dreamlike, giving this appearance that not everything is as it seems. I also put a lot of time and attention into the sound design, specifically the various clocks ticking throughout and the voice Peter repeatedly hears during his loops.  

Overall I think this challenging shoot was actually a huge benefit for me. It made me realise if I can film in this environment with all these challenges and have the final result turn out the way it did then I feel much more confident in filming with a full crew with no limitations and time constraints.  

Simon B. HND Film & Television.

Film and Television students have faced considerable obstacles when trying to make features over the last eighteen months, which has also led to some very creative solutions in the way they have developed and produced their projects.

Limited resources and lockdown constraints meant that many had to rely on the goodwill of their family and in some cases flatmates as either crew or participants in their films and Tick Tock Repeat is another feature which creatively approached these problems.

Simon’s time loop narrative gave him a format to incorporate some really nice set pieces of film making and post production processes into this feature and the experience of directing the project from inception to finished feature has added many practical and directorial aspects to his film making skillset.

– Michael Grant, Film & Television Lecturer.

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