PRIME CONTACT: A Word With Producer Harry Woodman

From L to R: Producer Harry Woodman, lead actor Julian Miller, stuntmen Martin Wan, Lawrence Nicklin and Jim Key, director Andrew Kueh and director of photography Robert Frost.
Directed and co-written by Andrew Kueh, the story takes off in the dark of night with actor Julian Miller in the role of Sam LeBrant, a lost conscience forced to use his ability to jump between bodies to find and infiltrate Cognitech, the notorious scientific research facility secretly holding his live body prisoner for experimentation. Caught in the middle of it all is wife and company employee, Jane LeBrant (Zara Plessard) unknowing of what happened to her husband in the time since his mysterious disappearance, and an inquisitive journalist (Katharine Mangold) whose own suspicions bring her closer than she's ever been. Using any and all resources available, Sam intends to rescue his body and bring Cognitech down, while trying to avoid being otherwise discovered by the ever-vigilant head of security, Logan (Johnny Fleming). But, it's the eve of the big company announcement, Logan is out for blood, and time is running out.

I got to speak about the project with producer Harry Woodman at the time of its film festival preparation and circulation. Among other things, he explained the peculiar process by which he and his team cast the lead actors. "We found them online and asked them to do a video audition as we were unable to travel to see them in person." he said. "It was a risky approach but we were incredibly lucky as everyone was perfect for their roles and they all got on well with each other on set."

Woodman continued, "Zara's audition was perfect, she had this strong quality about her but also keeping a sense of vulnerability, which we were looking for. For Sam we were wanting to go for a classic hollywood leading man, however when we saw Julian we saw him bring an authenticity to the role as you could really believe he was a scientist forced with this power. The fact that he was a fantastic actor and incredibly patient on some very long days was more than we could wish for."

Andrew Kueh & Dominic Lehany
The shortfilm lasts about a good half hour, and for a student project, Prime Contact looked very rich and solid with a lot of potential I can definitely see why the crowdfunding was necessary. Kueh's script, co-written by Dominic Lehany carries a lot of weight that definitely offers some potential for a bigger, more expansive story, with some portions that could have augmented the film provided it would have worked, editorially, and Woodman agreed. "There were certain things we would have liked to have added." he says. "It would have been good to explore some backstory for the film, developing the relationships between the characters. However we wanted this short film to feel like the last thirty minutes of a feature, and therefore the backstory can be left for the viewers imagination, at least for now. And we also wanted to have a car chase, but that was more for us wanting to film a car chase than it being editorially justified."

Woodman also complemented SG Action for its contribution to the project. Notably, there aren't that many stunt teams like SG in the United Kingdom (so I'm told), so I personally reckon he, Kueh and the crew felt very fortunate to have came across them when they did. "They were great." says Woodman. "Really could not have wanted anything better. In pre-production we were worried about finding quality stunt performers, as the fight scene is quite complicated. However we struck gold when we found SG Action, because not only are they great at what they do, but they have helped across all parts of production, from promotion to post sound work. They are fantastic guys and hopefully they will be going places soon!"

The same sentiments were shared for Prime Contact, whose director began shopping the project in film festival circuit  in the past year or so hoping to expand the story into a possible feature film. "Andrew is very passionate about this project and has been from the moment he came up with the concept." Woodman said, while acknowledging Lehany, as well as the film's director of photography. "This passion has helped drive the whole film forward. He wrote, along with Dominic Lehany, a great script that we all got behind and he was incredibly motivating on set."

Needless to say, it's taken this long for Prime Contact to finally release online as it just so happens to be advanced by Miller's current role in Paul Feig's new movie, Spy. As for a feature film, Woodman expressed his hopes to see its continuation through audience approval, should possible funding ever welcome the story of Sam Lebrant to a more epic, longer production scale.

"The aim for this film was to create an exciting thirty minute film that leaves audiences wanting more." said Woodman. "We wanted a film that has both action and an engaging story that requires people to pay attention. If people engage with the film's concept and believes in the characters, we would know that we have been successful. If anything, we encourage audiences to imagine the backstory to the film, how Sam got this power, and how he used it to get to this party."

Personally, I say shut up and take my money. If more were allowed on the table, I could definitely see Prime Contact as a full feature-length quality project with action, sci-fi, fantasy, espionage, intrigue and romance. It's exemplary of the creative richness and vision that an up-and-coming filmmaker like Kueh shares, like many independent projects I have seen and I hope the team continue to grow themselves in their craft.

Prime Contact is a pure start for something fresh and new, and I hope the right people are paying attention to give this group the support it needs. In the meantime, catch the most recent trailer below from March and stay tuned for its subsequent release this Friday.


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