Night Kaleidoscope is the third feature from Award-Winning Director Grant McPhee, and his first foray into the horror genre. Shot in just one week on a shoestring budget, the film punches well above its weight thanks to McPhee’s stunning cinematography and bold vision. McPhee started his career as a cinematographer, and it shows. The film is a lush, visceral, visual experience that harks back to the Giallo films of the 70s with its bold colour palette, while creating something fresh and modern with experimental camera techniques. Shot predominantly at night, as the name suggests, Night Kaleidoscope transforms Edinburgh’s cobbled backstreets into a dark dreamscape brimming with supernatural menace, where reality fuses with the surreal in a psychedelic haze.
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Written by Chris Purnell and Megan P. Gretchen, the film tells the story of Fion (Patrick O’Brien), a cynical psychic investigator who peddles his gift for anyone willing to pay. His abilities depleting, he must take powerful drugs to induce his visions. After a series of brutal murders in the city, a contact in the police comes to him for help tracking down the killers. In a psychic trance, Fion witnesses one of the murders being committed. These are no ordinary killers. They feast on those they kill, vampiric, and they are lovers – a couple who murder brutally and with relish. In the midst of his investigations, Fion meets Isobel (Mariel McAllan), a young woman whose boyfriend has been killed by the pair. To save her, and track down the killers, he must harness his waning powers as well as overcoming the personal demons borne out of his troubled past.
Patrick O’Brien and Mariel McAllan give strong performances as the film’s main characters, lending a subtlety and tension to the film. Patrick, originally from Ireland, also played the lead in Director Grant McPhee’s first feature, dark indie drama Sarah’s Room (2013). His brooding presence and pathos ground the film, giving it weight amidst the dreamy visuals. After Sarah’s Room, McPhee directed Scottish punk documentary Big Gold Dream, which won the coveted audience award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2015. Although a very different type of film, Night Kaleidoscope draws on this same punk sensibility with its micro-budget ethos. McPhee is a vocal advocate for indie filmmakers to just go out there and shoot, making the most out of what resources they have available. The film falls under the Tartan Features umbrella, a collective he is involved in with producer Lauren Lamarr and others, which sets out a kind of manifesto for indie filmmaking in Scotland and beyond.
“We firmly believe that everyone, no matter what level of experience they have can access the tools to create their own feature film. Any reason not to is just an excuse…We believe it is possible to make your own industry. Everyone working in film, regardless of experience and position has a duty to contribute towards their own industry. Do not wait for others to do it for you.”
And seeing what McPhee and his team have achieved with Night Kaleidoscope, it’s clear that they live by that philosophy. The result is a truly original and unusually beautiful horror film, a testament to the talent and ingenuity of Scotland’s burgeoning indie horror scene that looks set to continue McPhee’s streak of successes. Expect to hear much more about the film in the coming months.
About Grant McPhee – Director/Cinematographer
Grant McPhee is an award-winning film-maker based in Scotland, United Kingdom. He started his career as a camera assistant, learning under respected cinematographers such as Christopher Doyle, Peter Deming, and Robert Richardson. He turned his attention to directing with the successful independent feature drama Sarah’s Room in 2013. His last feature film, documentary Big Gold Dream was nominated as one of 2015’s best films in Sight and Sound and the winner of the coveted Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Night Kaleidoscope is his second drama feature and first full-on horror. From his extensive experience with cinematography he has crafted a unique visual approach which compliments his directing style of exploring darkness and light.
“Acting for me is challenging, exciting and sometimes even terrifying… but thats when I’m at my best.”
Patrick is a native of Ireland. He completed his undergraduate degree in Music at Paisley university in Scotland in 2005 then went on to do a postgraduate in nutrition at Chester University before he began a career as an actor. Patrick is also an ex-professional Muay Thai Boxing champion Over the years Patrick has appeared in various short films, theatre productions and independent features. In 2013 he appeared in R Paul Wilson’s (presenter/writer of BBC’s Real Hustle) short film “The Magic Box”. To date the film has received over half millon hits on youtube. Patrick also appeared in award winning Scottish director Grant McPhee’s first feature “Sarah’s Room” in which he played the lead role of Joe. Patrick appeard as Doctor Watson in scottish comedy feature “A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide”, a feel good film about suicide which premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2014.
In theatre, Patrick appeared as The Stranger in Jules Wright (first female director of the Royal Court theatre) adaption of Ibsens “Lady from the Sea” which was shot in Svalbard in Norway and showcased as an installation at the Wrapping project in London in late 2013. Patrick’s most recent theatre outing saw him play a United Nations Lawyer in “Horizonital Collaboration” wrote and produced by David Leddy/ Fire exit Theatre company at the Traverse theatre/Edinburgh in 2014.
Most recently Patrick has completely work on “Failte Ireland” latest advert produced by Russel Curran Productions. He also appears in “The Observer Effect” directed by upcoming Irish director/writer Garret Walsh in which he plays The Watcher. It’s due for release late 2016. He is also working on his second short film “Trouble Boys” which he hopes to shoot later this year.
About Mariel McAllan – Isobel
Mariel started acting at a young age as a hobby at the Scottish Youth Theatre but gave it up to concentrate on her exams at school. While studying to get a science degree at the University of Strathclyde she decided to go the night school drama classes where she realised her passion for the acting. After graduating, Mariel decided to pursue acting instead of a science career. She was discovered as a model by Sonia Scott from The All Talent Agency but quickly jumped to doing more acting work instead of modeling. She trained at the prestigious Trinity college in London passing grade 7 with distinction and studying lecoq and clown at The Movement Theatre Studio in New York. Professional projects include short films “The Note” which featured in the Cornwal film festival 2014, “The Cruelty of Beauty” featured in woman’s only entertainment festival 2015 and as a selection for the online TOFF festival 2015. Theatre projects include playing Olga in “Dirty Hands” at the Edinburgh Fringe festival 2012 and playing Nia in “100” for the West end festival in 2013. Other credits include working as a motion caption artist for Rockstar games and small part in an SNP Political Broadcast. This year Mariel can be seen playing Hitler’s secretary Traudl Junge in a documentary “The last days of Hitler” on the Smithsonian channel or ITV. She will also be appearing in her first feature film “Land Of Sunshine” as Isobel and a lead role in a short film called “Split life”. Future projects include playing various characters in a new play called “A journey around my room” with the respected Stark Theatre and playing Madeline Smith in the play “The Story of Madeline Smith” which goes on tour in Autumn.
NOTE: Creative Light is a spotlight on Scottish artists from all mediums. We strive to share introductions written by the artists whenever possible and we link directly to their websites. Anyone can submit a suggestion, but the artists themselves are especially welcome. Please send a link where we can find examples of work and a biography to Staff@Modern.Scot