RETCON by Bensalem Mitchell

Director Bensalem Mitchell explains the ideas, inspirations and processes behind his film RETCON, the final shortlisted film in The Skinny Short Film Competition 2015

Video | 14 Aug 2015

Filmmaker’s statement:

Imagine you had the ability to do anything you ever wanted and you could wipe it out like last night’s dream. That’s the power our protagonists possess, using it to disturbing effect.

As a filmmaker, I believe every story (when boiled down to its core elements) has been told but what is limitless are the various ways to tell it. If an audience watches a film shown in a different way, they will (within reason) accept the world and rules you give them. Films like Primer (2004) by Shane Carruth are a great example of the many ways I would like to explore storytelling, giving you ambitious concepts that you immediately have to digest but tell them in a unique and intellectual manner.

Watching a film again and again should give you more enjoyment and fulfilment, not a chore. Most importantly, I aim to be part of engaging storytelling and to always be proud of the projects I work on. My experience with RETCON was an eye-opener and wouldn't have been possible if not for the people I worked with.

With RETCON, we are in the mind of our main protagonist and therefore follow the story from his perspective. He justifies his actions because he feels he can control the consequences. Thanks to the way the film is shot, looks and sounds, I would like to think the audience understands that we are in his head first and foremost regardless of whether they agree with his philosophy.


What do you do and why do you do it?
I'm a freelance filmmaker who has explored numerous avenues from directing to cinematography to the guy who brings you the coffee on set. I love being part of ambitious and creative projects and therefore have a natural affinity towards making films. I studied Pharmacology at university but never completed it as I was always too distracted with filmmaking. I have never looked back since.

Where did the initial idea for your film come from?
The original story and screenplay came from the film's director of photography Matt Gillan who I've worked with on numerous short films and music videos after being introduced to him by the 1st AD of RETCON, Riyadh Haque. Matt had the idea for RETCON ever since he graduated from UCA and wanted me to direct it for him. After I saw his initial draft, I was very keen and we worked from there until it became the finished film you see today.

Describe your film in five words.
Thriller with an unusual twist.

What excites you most about filmmaking?
The excitement of having an idea that can be realised and shown has always been profound to me. The great ideology behind any form of entertainment is about having the freedom and possibility to express what's in your imagination to the world. With great determination, filmmaking makes that happen.

What advice would you give to other filmmakers?
Don't be too concerned about what people think of you and your efforts. Never be afraid to fail because you can learn from it. If you don't feel like you're in the deep end then you're doing something wrong. Most of all, filmmaking is a collaborative effort; give back to the people who help you.

Production Credits:

Directed by Bensalem Mitchell
Produced by Jack Pollington
Director of Photography – Matt Gillan
Sound Recording & Design – Will Chapman
First Assistant Director – Riyadh Haque
1st AC – Riccardo Dias
2nd AC – Rupert Peddle
Gaffer – Daniel O’Flaherty
Spark – Andrew Morgan
Make Up Artist – Anna Kelly
Assistant Editor – Chloe Hardwick
3rd AD – John McGinty
Production Assistant – Altaira Morris
Composer – Tristan Noon

Johnson - Charlie Morgan
Sarah - Lara Honnor

Learn more about The Skinny Short Film Competition and watch more short films at our Short Film Competition portal, and check out the full shortlist for The Skinny Short Film Competition.