No-man's land is like the face of the moon: chaotic, crater ridden, uninhabitable, awful, the abode of madness.
- Lieutenant Wilfred Owen
It is 1917, the great war is in its third year and the Western Front is a bloody stalemate. In this war of attrition, the race to create new, ever more powerful and deadly technology has ushered in a new age of warfare, a war of machines...
At the Ypres salient, the British are putting their faith in their newly developed weapons – the tank.
Captain Donald Richardson and his eight strong crew of the F41, the “Fray Bentos”, are to lead an attack on a heavily fortified German stronghold, known as Hill 35.
But some of Richardson’s superiors have concerns as to whether he is the right man for the mission. His father is a prominent MP and an outspoken opponent of the war and such sentiments are considered a danger to the men’s moral.
Aided by Lieutenant Hill and “Old Sweat” Sergeant Mission, Richardson - aware that the mission is suicidal, is determined to prove himself not a coward.
For most of the crew, it is their first taste of combat in the new machines and when they find themselves stranded in the middle of no-man’s land, isolated and alone, they prepare themselves for a long and desperate fight for survival.
But it is more than just the enemy they must fight, for no-man's land is hell on earth, a place haunted by the dead and the dying, a place where superstitions and reality merge into a mist enshrouded nightmare.
And so, as the men trapped inside the tank succumb to their fears, both real and imagined, and their supplies run low, Richardson must face his ultimate battle, a battle between his duty as a British officer and his moral duty to his men.
Based on a true event, this is a story of the incredible courage of a small group of men, determined to fight and survive the mud and blood of Passchendaele.
THE APPROACH TO TELLING THE STORY
The story of the men of the Fray Bentos will be a griping tale of war and adventure, but the film will also explore, through stylistic visuals, dialogue and sound design, the effects of war on the human psyche.
We will be taking a very stylistic approach with the visuals and sound design. Our aim will be to create a truly immersive experience, to take the audience into the heads and minds of the tank crew.
To help us recreate the feeling and atmosphere of no-man’s land, we will be drawing heavily from paintings and artwork created by such WW1 painters as Otto Dix, Paul Nash, David Bomberg and cartoonists such as Bruce Bairnsfather. This generation of artists created a revolution in the way modern warfare was depicted in art.
Their images allow us to see the soldiers experience through the eyes of artists. With their strong use of symbolism and meaning, they tell us stories and convey the human experience in that war in a profoundly visceral way.
RE-CREATING NO-MAN'S LAND
We'll be using a number of techniques to bring the "Great War" back to life. We’ll be sourcing a location to re-create no-man's land, but we'll also be making use of special FX techniques such as miniatures, green screen and digital matte paintings.
In our previous feature ALL THAT REMAINS, which was shot just outside Birmingham UK, matte paintings and miniatures were used to create both the historic Nagasaki and the extensive scenes of destruction.