Feature: Eye of the Needle

16 March, 2010 by IF
By Jordan King-Lacroix
John V. Soto is on a mission. He wants to make great films in Perth that can compete with US blockbusters. And his latest effort, Needle – a whodunit thriller that combines elements of the supernatural with horror – is aimed squarely at the international market.
“Bring fresh underwear and a sweat towel to the film because you’re going to need it,” Soto says.
The $3.5 million film is Soto’s second feature film as writer/director after last year’s supernatural thriller Crush, which sold well overseas despite only being shown on only one Perth cinema screen.
“[Investors] saw what we did with Crush and jumped into it,” he says, “but mostly they came on board because of the strength of the script and the team.”
The film tells the story of a University student who inherits an 18th century contraption with supernatural powers before the machine goes missing and his friends start dying.
“We’ve gone for a sleek, polished, American feel,” Soto said. “The look we will have, you would expect if it was a $20 or $30 million film.”
Soto says the YouTube trailer has already notched up over 20,000 hits in its first ten days and has been embedded on 1,500 sites worldwide.
The film stars several well-known local actors including Michael Dorman (Daybreakers), Travis Fimmel (Restraint), and Jessica Marais (Packed to the Rafters).
“We had thirty different ideas for horror/thrillers and it was just whittling them down to something that was fresh and unique,” Soto said.
“We looked at a vampire film, a zombie film, a werewolf film and we thought, ‘You know what? There’s so many of those films out there, let’s do something different’, and voodoo was the one we came up with.”
Prop designer Jeremy Shaw (Lord of the Rings) built the contraption– a box which creates wax voodoo dolls – based on Soto’s ideas.
“I told him I wanted to see cogs turning and wax being poured in, but I assumed we’d have to use CGI for that,” Soto says.
“And he just goes, ‘No, no, I’ll build it, it’ll actually be a working machine, we’ll make it work. It’ll have compartments you can open and close, it’ll have cogs inside that’ll turn. The wax can be poured in and it’ll go into a mould’ and I was like yeah, sure, but he actually did it.”
The film was predominately shot with the RED ONE camera, which Soto describes as tricky to use.
“Long story short, what you see through your viewfinder is not what gets recorded onto the hard drive,” Soto said. “And in fact it’s almost inverse, colours are different.”
Sound editing is currently being completed at Audiolock while special effects were completed by the Make-up Effects Group.
The film is expected to be released early next year and Soto plans to screen it at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where he hopes to close more international distribution deals.