High Hopes

By Jon Sanders

low-tide-jon-sanders.jpgLow Tide, 2008

Low Tide offers a radical template for a revived British Auteur cinema

The idea for Low Tide came about out of the frustration my partner, Anna Mottram and I were experiencing trying to get our next film project off the ground (our first feature film Painted Angels, released in the UK by Artificial Eye in 2000, about the lives of prostitutes in the American West, starred Kelly McGillis and Brenda Fricker). Encouraged and supported by a loyal group of friends we decided to try and break the cycle and see what it would be possible to do with a clear structure, experienced actors and a minimal crew. Two of the main actors, Jan Chappell and Richard Vanstone, offered us the use of an empty house in Faversham and, when everyone was available including, most importantly, Jeff Baynes the cameraman, we went ahead. We all worked for nothing and the budget came to just over £1000, our main expense being food and train fares (since then we have been donated a free online.)

Low Tide (86 minutes) was shot in five days and all the dialogue is completely improvised. It tells the story of the last three days of a woman's life; Kathy is dying of cancer and is being nursed at home. Her husband Tom cooks and cares for her but is unable to offer her emotional support and keeps himself apart, playing his music or drinking with a recently widowed friend who is an amateur poet. Kathy forms a strong attachment to her visiting nurse, confiding in her about her past affairs, her ambiguous feelings towards Tom and her fear of death. Her closest friend comes to visit and a rift is healed; memories haunt her and eventually, after a painful confrontation, she and Tom attempt to come to terms with her infidelities, their unhappy marriage and the loss of their only child. The film was shot mostly in sequence, using natural light and, because it’s improvised, all the main scenes are shot in a single take.

low-tide-jon-sanders-2.jpgLow Tide, 2008

It was, for all of us, a liberating experience to make a film ‘without permission’ and we are all very proud of the result. One thing is sure, we want to develop this way of working, next time with a more complex scenario and a slightly longer shooting schedule and, minimal funding allowing, will be filming next summer.


Crew: Director - Jon Sanders / Original story - Anna Mottram & Jon Sanders / Dialogue - The Cast / Director of Photography - Jeff Baynes / Editor - Maysoon Pachachi / Production Designer - Camilla Robinson / Production Supervisor - Jan Chappell / Music composed by - Douglas Finch / Music performed by - Douglas Finch and Bertie Anderson / Sound Recordists / Camera Assistants - Theo Sanders & Rob Munday / Colour Grading - Alessandro de Mariassevich / Sound Re-mix - Mick Ritchie; Cast: Kathy - Anna Mottram / Terry - Charlotte Palmer / Tom - Richard Vanstone / Lionel - Bob Goody / Beth - Jan Chappell / Emma - Izzy Sanders.

Low Tide is being screened at London’s Curzon Soho on the 27th January. Please also see The Belgrade Manifesto