Set Visit: Disturbing New British Psychological Thriller ‘The Holly Kane Experiment’

It is a grey, chilly winter’s day and we’re looking out at a 360 degree rooftop view of the ever-changing London sky line. Situated on the eleventh floor, and in the confines of a penthouse apartment, we, the gaggle of press in attendance, note the presence of a hot tub resting in the middle of this rooftop space as we observe the impressive panorama.

The reason for our gathering is to witness ambitious new British film The Holly Kane Experiment whilst it is in the middle of its hectic 3 week shoot.

“It’s been quite stressful”, notes producer Phil Harris. “These are 16 hour days, pretty much every day. It’s a 3 week shoot, so you just go for it in those 3 weeks. I’ll then be spending the next 3 months in my pyjamas editing.”

Marking the second outing for father/son duo Mick (the writer) and Tom Sands (the director), this is a step away from the brutal horror of their debut, Nazi Vengeance.

The Holly Kane Experiment3The Holly Kane Experiment is a dark psychological thriller about mind control”, director Tom Sands tells us. “It’s about a woman called Holly, who’s an experimental psychologist and she’s developed a ground-breaking technique whereby she’s able to implant thoughts into the subconscious. We gradually find out that she has become the subject of her own experiment”.

“Unlike my first film, which was a horror film, this is a psychological thriller and this is the genre that I want to do for the rest of my life, so I didn’t have to go away and study. All the reference points were already there”.

What about working with his own father? How has that worked? “Oh, there have been tonnes of disagreements” he laughs. “If I trash his work, he can’t get angry with me though because I’m his son. It’s good for me, but I don’t know how he feels about it!”

“This is our second film together, we’ve got three more projects in development. Most of The Holly Kane Experiment1them, they’re my stories and he’s written the screenplay. This one is unusual in that it is completely his. He’s been working on it on and off for twenty years, I think. The idea of a script about mind control and being able to plant subliminal messages into someone’s subconscious without permission is something that he’s been thinking about that for a very long time”.

“I like psychological thrillers”, continues Harris. “I’ve worked with Tom Sands before. I’ve done most of my work with Tom. I believe that he is one of the rising stars in British cinema. He really is a good guy and I just believe in the project.”

Describing the scene being shot, Harris stated, “We needed a location that sold Marvin as a very high powered government official. We’re in the penthouse on the eleventh floor right at the very top. This is Marvin and welcome to his world. This is a low budget film and once you have sold this and Marvin here, you can get away with having him on a little set somewhere, because you’ve already sold it. The audience accepts that everything you’re showing them is very big and grand”.

The Holly Kane Experiment4“When you haven’t got the money, you have to find a way to do it”, adds Sands Jr. on the need to overcome strict budget conditions. “It can be very stressful and hard work, but most of the time you come up with a creative solution. And I think that is why low budget is often the breeding ground for new filmmaking techniques because you have to find new ways of doing it and doing it fast”.

Back to the film in question, Tom mulls over information overload and the perils of being connected in the modern age. “Your mind is being controlled all the time. I don’t think that you can really help that. You’re always getting messages. This film’s message is that you can’t trust your mind a lot of the time. You’ve got to trust your feelings or your intuition”.

“The main character’s journey is coming to realise that. It is only by coming out of her head a little bit that she’s able to escape the clutches of her evil tormentor.”

The Holly Kane Experiment is currently in Post-production and hopes to be out later this year.

About The Author

Having upped sticks and marched down the A13 from Essex into the smog of London, Greg can be found ranting and raging as the Film Correspondent on the Jon Gaunt Show from time to time and also on his weekly 'The Film Review' podcast (plug alert - available on iTunes and Audioboom). Aside from Front Row Reviews, he also scribbles regularly for HeyUGuys. Lowlights, thus far, have been John Hurt scolding with the question 'do you really think like that?', upsetting acclaimed filmmaker Ondi Timoner with his piece for the Sunday Mirror and falling out with the blog editor of the Huffington Post. Oh, and he did bring Liv Ullmann to tears (but in a good way... more of a highlight, that one). He can also be found writing on theatre and music for the Islington Gazette, Ham & High, Hackney Gazette, Bargain Theatre, SupaJam and others. He's often moaning about how tired he is, and he's a frustrated musician.

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