Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Jonnie Hurn: At the time I thought my childhood was a bit dull but looking back now I realize just how fortunate I was. I grew up in a small village in the countryside in the west of England at the heart of where England was created as a nation, about halfway between two world renowned sites, the Roman city of Bath and the prehistoric stone circle of Stonehenge. One shop, one pub and several farms. We were surrounded by fields, farm land and a range of low hills that was once an Iron Age hillfort. It is marked by a large white horse carved into the hillside chalk. My parents were (and still are) very tolerant to my often anti-mainstream way of life, aided by the fact that my older brother pursued a career in the media, meaning that by the time I said I wanted to act and make films my parents had given up hope of having children who have regular jobs like any sensible person. My brother has since redressed the balance by becoming a psychologist! We were lucky enough to travel a lot and our house was seemingly always full of kids from the village in the school holidays. Music was and still is a vital part of life. My father, a train enthusiast, built a model railway in the garden that you can ride on. Climbing trees, watching old black and white movies on the TV and going to the theatre as often as possible. Come to think of it my childhood was pretty laidback, probably why I wasn’t much good at anything academic. I still love climbing trees.
Film Courage: Do you still live in the UK?
Jonnie: Half and half. I divide my time between the UK and France. It is somewhat of a split lifestyle, one half of city life at work in the UK (London) and the other half of enjoying the wine, cheese and culture of the French countryside.
Film Courage: Who or what has had the biggest influence on your life?
Jonnie: An almost impossible question to answer. Inevitably my parents who have supported me with a love and patience that I hope I can replicate towards my daughter. My wife who never ceases to believe in me nor let me forget what is important, she has taught me how to love the world and saved my life in doing so, that is no exaggeration. Moving to London when I was 21 changed my life. It dragged me out of the parochial bubble I had grown up in and exposed me to people from different countries, different regions, different religions, different races. London is the most cosmopolitan city in the world and I had 16 wonderful years living there, mainly in the 1990s during the “Cool Britannia/Brit Pop” era. I was working at a music radio station and life was one huge blur of music, alcohol and hedonism. When that came to a crashing and sobering end I filled the void by traveling independently. I traveled a lot in my 30s flying into one country and flying out of another, often many hundreds of miles apart, with no idea how I was going to get from one to the other. It taught me not to fear the unknown and how to think on my feet. I was once 45 minutes from check-in closing on a flight home and I was stuck on a train in a different country… I still caught the flight! Finally my daughter, she has taught me how to be a child again and how to view the world with wonder and without prejudice, essential qualities for a filmmaker.
Film Courage: Have you had a real-life unexplained incident when you are younger?
Jonnie: Night terrors. As a child, and even into adult life until a few years ago, I had experiences of night terrors, specifically of being dragged along the bed, physically, only for a few inches but enough to not be able to explain it. I would feel my ankles being grabbed and something yanking me down the bed suddenly. One time, in my 20s, I had a spate of them over a short period and so I decided to do something about it and the next time it happened I thrust out my arm so as to catch whatever it was (if there was anything) doing this. My hand grabbed something and in my half wakened state I saw a dark shape, about 3-4 ft high which I held by its throat. Later that night I was awakened again by something grabbing my body and dragging me into a seated position and then throwing me against the wall. I woke in the morning with a lump on the side of my head. The last time it happened was in 2010 when I had a series of similar experiences that had left me tired and drained until I vowed to end it once and for all. There ensued an almighty fight in my sleep, a dream so vivid it lives with me to this day and one where I physically sat up in the bed and fought with my fists at whatever it was. Scared the hell out of my wife! The finale of the battle saw me overpower whatever it was. I slept soundly for the first time in years after that and thankfully have not experienced it since. Looking back it always came at a time of low morale, when life was harsh and I was emotionally or physically vulnerable.
“At the time I joined [the Arts Academy] I was a big lover of the theatre, by the time I left my loyalty had jumped to film. Film was kind of seen as a dirty word there, we would be frowned upon for even mentioning film or TV in acting classes so a small group of us used to meet clandestinely in a café to discuss the movies we’d seen! I guess I was pretty much against the establishment of the course…
Film Courage: Did you go to film school or university for dramatic arts?
Jonnie: I spent three years training at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. At the time I joined I was a big lover of the theatre, by the time I left my loyalty had jumped to film. Film was kind of seen as a dirty word there, we would be frowned upon for even mentioning film or TV in acting classes so a small group of us used to meet clandestinely in a café to discuss the movies we’d seen! I guess I was pretty much against the establishment of the course meaning I was either seen as a maverick or a pain in the arse, depending who you speak to. I took some optional writing and directing courses, which were useful.
Film Courage: Do you have tattoos? Any with otherworldly significance?
Jonnie: Yes. One. Nothing with “otherworldly” significance though!
Film Courage: What are your thoughts on modern-day storytelling? What has been lost or gained in the last few decades of cinema?
Jonnie: Storytelling in cinema has regrettably become a victim of the changes in the way we watch film. In the golden days of cinema of the 50s, 60, 70s films could be grand and epic because there was little competition. Yes there was TV but the screens were small. With the rise of digital TV, internet, widescreen TVs and streaming films have a lot more to compete with for our attention. We are told now to ensure that the first 2-3 minutes are compelling and leave the viewer desperate to want to see more, whereas in the past films could easily draw out the preposition for 20-30 minutes. A film as shocking and brilliant as “The Exorcist” which has a long and slow build up would struggle to succeed now as audiences would demand some action early on regardless of how well it ends. The more expensive films become to make the less creative they will be. Financiers (both studios and private) are increasingly cautious about investing in film as the returns are so precarious, so often producers are forced to go for the least risky option, the sequel, spinoff, book adaptation, reboot, re-imagining, there is less and less room for original content these days meaning writers are becoming more and more like adapters of other people’s work rather than artists in their own right.
One thing that has struck me about the horror genre lately is how the endings of horror films have changed in the last 10 years. In the classic era of horror in the 70s, 80s & 90s there was always one who survived, always one character who saw the danger early on and lived because of it, whilst the others ignored the warning and perished, but now it is common for no-one to survive, opting for the fourth act reversal at the end of the film that kills off the one survivor for the sake of adding a “shock twist.” But this has a psychological impact on audiences. Where there used to be hope at the end of a horror film now there is more often than not just despair. One brilliant exception to this new rule (warning spoiler alert!) is the genius Korean film “Train to Busan,” which manages to pull off both.
What “Train to Busan,” a zombie apocalypse confined in a train, also does is brilliantly combine VFX with storytelling. Yet what is so good about this film is that at its heart there is a brilliant and very touching emotional story about a father trying to reconnect with his young daughter, a man for whom it takes the end of civilization and seemingly impending death to realize how much of his daughter’s childhood he has missed by being too obsessed with his work, all of which is now rendered redundant. This powerful story resonates right through the film from the first scene to the finale with the zombie outbreak being the catalyst to his increasingly futile attempts to make amends with his child. The excellent VFX that grows in stature as the emotional story deepens, with each playing off the other and increasing the potency of the other, serves to enhance the storytelling process rather than, as is all too sadly the case, be there for cheap thrills and shock moments. Indeed the most powerful moment in the whole film for me is one that doesn’t involve any VFX at all but a simple shot of the train with the drama played out in shadows over the tracks.
This is why I have little time for superhero films. It doesn’t matter how many buildings you destroy if there is no emotional connection to the characters it becomes hollow. This is why “Independence Day: Resurgence” was such a failure. The aliens were bigger and badder than in the original yet there was no interplay between the audience and the characters. They were shoe-horned in to bring back memories of the first film rather than attempt to make us care a second time. Conversely films like “Manchester By The Sea”, “Moonlight”, “Fences” and “Hell or High Water” work so well because the audience engages with the characters even if they are behaving in ways that we would not. In each of these cases the core story is about survival at all costs but the ones that allow the story to unfold slowly and precisely rather than with fanfares of noise and FX are the ones that picked up the Oscars.
Film Courage: Can you name a few filmmakers who understand what storytelling is about?
Jonnie: I recently started watching all of Hitchcock’s films in chronological order, starting from his first silent movies. He understood character, tension and intricacies of plot from an early age. He learnt the hard way (“Sabotage” 1936) that having a bomb explode isn’t nearly as dramatic as having one NOT explode, only of course if the audience knows it is there and that it could explode at any time killing a character they have been following. In his own words…
“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”
In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”
There was a time when Steven Soderbergh could do no wrong, films like “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic” and the much underrated “The Limey” hit the formula for engaging characters telling strong personal stories regardless of the genre (Drama, Crime thriller, Revenge). Like him or loathe him Tarantino understands how to draw out tension in a scene, disguising and delaying the inevitable catastrophe with the seemingly trivial, just as Hitchcock describes in the quote above. Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors who have managed to keep his sense of character and plot solid regardless of the budget of the film or the amount of VFX used, from his debut “Following” to “Memento” through “The Prestige” and “Inception” he keeps story and character at the heart of the film. Even in “Interstellar”, which I’ll confess was not one of my favorites of his, he keeps the father-daughter separation storyline as the base for everything that happens, even the somewhat bizarre FX heavy ending. I haven’t yet seen “Dunkirk” though I suspect it will be nothing short of exceptional for exactly these reasons.
Film Courage: How did you first meet your writing, directing and producing partner on “IN CIRCLES,” Ian Manson? Anything that first stood out to you as interesting?
Jonnie: “Have you ever taken any class A drugs?” That was the first thing Ian ever said to me! It was on the set of a film that sadly was never finished and I was a little taken aback by the question until I realized he wasn’t prying into my life but referring to the scene we were about to shoot wherein my character had to do exactly that. We instantly hit it off. There is nothing not to like about Ian. We both have had what could be described as checkered pasts, largely self-inflicted, and although we have never actually talked about them in detail there is a kind of unspoken bond of respect between us because of it.
Film Courage: How did you know you could work together?
Jonnie: “It is called ‘Monk3ys’ and we want to make it for a monkey” (London slang for £500). I was producing and Ian was the Line Producer. It was the second film Elephant Features made and Ian had been very supportive of our debut film “Do Elephants Pray?” so was a natural choice to help shoot an entire feature for £500. Ian has this great ability to attack any problem with creativity and to squeeze every last penny out of a budget to make it look 10 or 100 times what the budget it is. “Monk3ys” went on to win the microbudget award at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival in London six months later. When I came up with the concept of a film about Crop Circles I pitched it to Ian and he immediately saw the potential in it, describing it as a sort of “Banksy of the countryside” film, which then became one of the lines in the script.
Film Courage: How did you divide the writing, directing and producing with your partner, Ian?
Jonnie: All I had to start with was a basic notion of a film about Crop Circles based loosely on a guy I had befriended called Terry who had confessed to making Crop Circles. Ian and I spent a weekend with him on his narrowboat on the canal listening to his stories of his experiences, both in the fields and out of them, and we were drawn to the idea that initially everyone asks the same question – is it aliens or humans? But actually the Crop Circle phenomenon is much, much deeper than that. This was what we wanted to explore in the film. It doesn’t matter who (or what) makes them, the real question is why? On the slow trip back to London we bashed around some story ideas, mainly Ian’s idea of having a journalist character investigate the Crop Circles as a storytelling device. That really opened up the subject, allowing us to take the audience with these characters as they learn what is going on. Once that was established I did the bulk of the writing with Ian constantly throwing ideas at me. As I knew the area we were filming in (we shot barely 15 miles from where I grew up) I dealt with the practical side of production whilst Ian handled the equipment. With the exception of one actress we cast the film from people we had worked with before. It was actually a very painless experience!
Film Courage: You call your team MansonHurn – are you better or stronger as two people? How do you complement one another?
Jonnie: We are both inspired by the artists Gilbert & George who describe themselves as “Two people but one artist” and that is how Ian and I work together. Everyone told us NOT to co-direct the film, that it wouldn’t work and we would fall out creatively but actually it has worked in our favor. Ian is very good at picking up on things that I know I should deal with but don’t want to face, forcing me to go back on things and get it right, and I am good at spotting things that he hasn’t seen. We in fact only disagreed on one thing, a single line of dialogue about the British Royal Family (he is a staunch Royalist and I am a staunch advocate of abolition). I won the argument and the line stayed in!
I instigated the film and it was shot where I grew up meaning it is very personal to me, particularly as the Wiltshire countryside is rarely seen on film and I wanted to share this beauty with the world, but without Ian and his input this film would never have been made, and certainly not to the standard that it is. We both come from a photography background so understand composition and framing and that coupled with our DP Drew Cullingham who is also a photographer and director (he directed “Monk3ys”) we were able to fill each frame with as much visual beauty as possible.
Film Courage: What prompted the crop circle idea?
Jonnie: I was 10 years old when I first visited a Crop Circle. This was back in the early days when they were just circles, nothing like the elaborate formations we have now. As I had grown up with them I largely took them for granted. We debated who or what made them, humans, aliens, weather, hedgehogs, the army but never took it further than that. It was only when my wife, who is French, first saw one and wanted to know all about them that I started to investigate a little. That was when we first met Terry. Over the following few years my wife’s idea for a book diminished and was overtaken by my idea to make a film.
“My daughter taught me how to be a child again and how to view the world with wonder and without prejudice, essential qualities for a filmmaker.
Film Courage: Why make a narrative film rather than a documentary (as so many have done on the crop circle subject)?
Jonnie: Simply because there have been so many documentaries before on the subject but no-one else has made a narrative film. I liked the format of mixing the genres when Ian came up with the idea and drew inspiration from the Richard Linklater film “Bernie” that uses real life interviews with people to help tell a narrative story that is based on truth. It is the very fact that “In Circles” is, to the best of my knowledge, the first and only narrative film about Crop Circles (“Signs” doesn’t count!) that has generated so much interested in it. If it was just another documentary then it would have ended up on Youtube and little else. When you don’t have the budget for big name cast you need to make a film that is unique or will appeal to a specific audience, we like to think that “In Circles” is both.
Film Courage: Did you and Ian Manson have a tough time deciding on a certain outcomes or scenes? How did you work through it and what was it?
Jonnie: The script and characters were based on the experiences of several people involved in the Crop Circle community, circlemakers, investigators, land owners, businesses, but the narrative storyline was based on the previous couple of Crop Circle seasons. However, as each year is different the script was always planned to be a starting point rather than a definitive blueprint for the film. We wanted to bring the five main characters (Dean ‘The cynic’, Hatter ‘The investigator’, Lara ‘The desperate journalist‘, ‘Yossi ‘The shell-shocked photographer’ and ‘Aideen ‘The believer’) to the area for different reasons, each we felt should be wounded in some way, be it physical, mental or emotional, and each should find a sense of healing through one of the other characters as they collectively explore what is happening in the fields. Their names incidentally are all significant to their personalities and flaws. Once that narrative was established we could improvise around the story within the individual scenes depending on what was actually happening at the time.
Film Courage: Where did you film “IN CIRCLES”? How long were you there? What were the best parts of the locations? What were challenges to the location?
Jonnie: Our base was a canal side pub in the heart of the countryside called The Barge Inn, in the tiny hamlet of Honeystreet in Wiltshire. This wonderfully bizarre pub is somewhat of the Mecca for Crop Circle enthusiasts and every summer thousands of people travel to this obscure corner of England. We shot the film over 6 weeks (3 days a week) during the 2013 Crop Circle season, never quite knowing when a formation would appear, if we could get access to it or if indeed it would last more than a day. The landowners, who are increasingly becoming despondent at the whole thing, have started cutting the formations out of the crop as soon as they appear so as to prevent people from visiting them. Each day we arrived would be a new challenge, each day would start with deciding which scenes we could film and where (pretty much all the external scenes were moveable and could be shot anywhere), so we might start off at the pub, then shoot on the barge, then once it had stopped raining head into a field where the latest formation had appeared. It was very much a giant act of improvisation.
I particularly wanted to shoot at the Avebury stone circle, which unlike its more famous cousin Stonehenge is a stone circle you can actually touch the stones at. I have loved Avebury since I was a child.
I managed to rope in an old school friend to work on the film, she heads a local college media course and persuaded many of her students to work on the film for extra credit! That was a big help.
When I first mentioned the idea of the film to the cast and crew most were skeptical about shooting outside of London but by the end of the first week everyone was so enthralled by the location they could wait to come back the following week. The landscape is tremendous there and anywhere we pointed the camera gave us a stunning vista. On one day, after we had been filming on the side of a hill all day we saw the sun starting to set just the combine harvesters were out in a field reaping the wheat. Even though it had been a long day and we all wanted to get home Drew agreed to stay and film the field as the sun set. The result was a stunning static shot of the combines gathering the wheat as the sky turned orange. This is the shot we use for the end credits.
Film Courage: What camera and lens package did you use?
Jonnie: By the nature of the film we had to keep cast, crew and kit to a minimum. There is only one scene that uses lights and that is the night time sequence, the rest was shot in available light. The camera was a digital SLR with a set of prime lenses.
Film Courage: What was the impetus for your character Yossi? Is he anything like you? Not like you?
Jonnie: Yossi was Ian’s idea. He felt that Lara the journalist character needed someone with her, someone who was her opposite. We decided to make them at odds with each other, like an old married couple who bicker and argue about everything. All drama is conflict so we wanted to have these characters bring their own conflict into this tranquil world and see the calm and beauty of the area dissipate it. Yossi is a broken character, someone who has spent his working life as a cameraman/photographer in war zones witnessing the worst of humanity, and he has come to Wiltshire to escape the hell he has seen after witnessing a particularly distressing event, the last thing he needs therefore is the seemingly vacuous and shallow Lara. A lot of Yossi as a character on the page and the portrayal on screen is based on who I probably would have been had I not gone into film. Since my father bought me a clunky, old Russian SLR camera when I was 13 I have been in love with landscape photography, taking it as an A Level subject. Had I not ended up at theatre school I probably would have pursued a career as a photojournalist. I have been fortunate to travel widely through Europe and Africa, often alone, and I was once arrested at gunpoint in the Sahara desert by the Moroccan military and questioned for 6 hours! I used that as the basis for his traumatized memories.
There is a scene in the film where Yossi recounts what he has witnessed and I was a bit uncomfortable about that scene, always wanting to cut away from the speech in the edit but Ian insisted we stick on the same shot. One of the best bits of feedback we have received about the film is on that scene with many people commenting on how powerful it is and that they didn’t expect it.
Film Courage: How did you get the amazing aerial shots and crop circle images?
Jonnie: We are very fortunate that one of Terry’s friends is the photographer Steve Alexander who runs the brilliant Temporarytemples.com website. He goes up in a helicopter every time a new formation is reported. We watched his footage from the 2013 season and licensed 5 shots of stock footage from him at a very generous rate. The drone footage of the formation at the West Kennet long barrow was a stroke of luck as the farmer had cut out the formation before Steve or we could get to film it, however someone called MrGyro shot it with a drone and licensed the footage to us. This film simply couldn’t have worked without these aerial shots and working out how to get them affordably was one of the first tasks in the development process.
Film Courage: What was your impetus for having a film with intersecting of stories of various characters?
Jonnie: What is interesting about the area is that so many people come from all over the world to this tiny part of England to hang around in the fields, whether that is to dance, meditate, investigate or just to be there, they are as compelled to come as the circlemakers are to make them. Crop Circles have a particularly big following in Brazil, which is why the Lara character is from there. Cassandra who plays the part happens to be part Brazilian. Everyone comes there for their own reason and many leave with experiences they didn’t expect, that was the inspiration for the characters. Without them it would be a very two-dimensional story.
Film Courage: How much was your budget for “IN CIRCLES”? Did you crowdfund for any of the budget? How much did you raise?
Jonnie: I’m not going to give you a figure but I will say it was substantially more than “Monk3ys”! We did crowd fund some of it (about 20%) the rest was private funding and a loan that I took out. The few people that do know the exact budget are somewhat disbelieving at how little it did cost. All the cast and crew worked pro bono for a backend percentage.
Film Courage: Of the three festival runs, did you travel with the film?
Jonnie: “In Circles” has only played three festivals to date (still waiting on several others) but it was the premiere at Raindance in London that was the catalyst for everything else. I have a long standing relationship with Raindance, being the first producer to have a feature premiere there three years in a row (“Do Elephants Pray?,” “Monk3ys” & “Black Smoke Rising”) so I held off submitting to other festivals in the hope to premiere there again. Thankfully (albeit at the very last minute!) we were accepted. It was from Raindance that the film secured its North American distributor and its global Sales Agent. I have had other films that have won numerous awards but have not had wide scale releases so for this film I happily swap festivals for distribution! Saying that we did win the Inspiration Award at the Yellow Fever Film Festival in Belfast. Raindance was a great experience with a wonderful Q&A afterwards. I didn’t make it Belfast unfortunately.
Film Courage: Thoughts on larger festivals with tons of notoriety or smaller less-known ones?
Jonnie: Festivals can be amazing or they can be traumatic, with “Do Elephants Pray?” we flew to Thailand for a festival in Phuket only for it to be cancelled when we got there. Undeterred we started our own mini independent festival (one film – ours) which was so successful it prompted the original festival organizers to reinstate the other one! We won the Audience Award. I like the smaller ones, with “Monk3ys” I took it to BUTFEST in Holland (B Movie, Underground & Trash Festival) it was tiny but the people were so welcoming and generous it was a real pleasure. When our debut film ”Do Elephants Pray?” had its world premiere at a festival in Los Angeles the lead actress went (and won the Maverick Acting Award), at the exact time of the premiere screening I (writer and co-star) was mopping floors in a French chain Motel to pay the rent!
As for larger festivals I love Cannes. I have been going since 2000 and met my wife there so it has a special meaning for me. In 2016 I was there searching for a Sales Agent for “In Circles”, in 2017, following the Raindance premiere success, I will be in Cannes to meet our Sales Agent and North American Distributor for the first time.
Film Courage: Whom do you envision as the audience for your movie?
Jonnie: At its inception “In Circles” was conceived to be a film that would appeal to a niche audience of Crop Circle enthusiasts, however as the film has grown, largely due to the beautiful cinematography, intricate storylines and emotive music, it breaks out from that niche into a wider audience. Obviously anyone who is interested in Aliens, UFOs, Crop Circles, anything unexplained is going to be drawn to it but also we hope anyone who likes original storytelling, unusual films, independent films, quintessentially English films! Also anyone who has an interest in a career in film should watch this to show what can be done with limited resources without resorting to the stock trade zombie horror film.
Film Courage: Of your three previous scripts Animals, Do Elephants Pray?, King John Act IV Scene i, was writing and making “IN CIRCLES” harder or easier?
Jonnie: “Animals” was written from a lot of research, “Do Elephants Pray?” was based on experiences in my own life (and filmed where they happened) and “King John” was an adaptation of one scene from the Shakespeare play. “In Circles” was written as a mixture of all of those, research, personal experience and adaptation (from itself once we started filming). “Animals” taught me how NOT to make a film, “Do Elephants Pray?” was a steep learning curve in how to actually make a film and largely in one location in the countryside, and “King John” taught me that directing is fun and something I wanted to do again. Without those experiences “In Circles” wouldn’t have happened.
Film Courage: Are you of the school of thought that everything in nature holds meaning or do you subscribe to coincidence?
Jonnie: Wow! That came out of the blue! It is easy to believe in coincidence because that is a panacea that explains everything whereas meaning necessitates scrutiny. There are many things in life that on the surface appear to be just a coincidence but with hindsight are actually connected. Just as I have outlined in the previous answer, the experiences I have had on other films I have made have all contributed to the making of “In Circles”, is that a coincidence or did I have to experience them all in order to make “In Circles”?
Film Courage: Anything unexplained happen while filming “IN CIRCLES”?
Jonnie: There was a night when we were in a field when we saw a strange light effect on the side of a hill nearby. The whole hillside appeared to glow orange. It wasn’t the moon (the sky was overcast) and there were no artificial lights that could have made such an effect. In all my years of growing up in the countryside I had never seen anything like it. No idea what it was.
Film Courage: What are some strange coincidences with crop circles that people may not know?
Jonnie: One thing we touch on in the film is the electromagnetic waves from the fields. When a formation is put down the electromagnetic waves change. When a formation was commissioned for a TV commercial a few years ago the waves before and after were measured with the belief that there would be no change (as it was an artificial Crop Circle and definitely manmade) but the waves changed all the same. This means that the very act of a formation appearing in a field, however it is made, changes the electromagnetism of the crop and the soil. This coupled with the fact that electromagnetic waves can alter the physical properties of water means that Crop Circles in this part of the world may not be a coincidence. This part of England is on one of the largest natural aquifers in the world set in the chalk below. There are millions of gallons of fresh water trapped in the chalk right underneath where the Crop Circles appear. That water may (or may not) be affected by the change in the electromagnetic waves. Eventually that fresh water will wash into the oceans prompting some to believe that the Earth itself is instigating the Crop Circles to be made as a sort of self-healing process. This is what I meant earlier when I said that it doesn’t matter who or what makes Crop Circles, what really matters is WHY they are made.
Film Courage: Do you think crop circles are human made or otherwise?
Jonnie: Some are very definitely human made. There are several teams in the area who make them and they know each other, however, there are a small number of formations each year that no-one knows who made them. These are the really interesting ones.
Film Courage: If human made, what do you think drives these makers of crop circles?
Jonnie: This is actually the very heart of the film. Some of people who make the formations can’t explain WHY they do it. They are compelled to make them even though there is no benefit to themselves in doing so. They also talk of being protected and guided whilst making them, hidden by glowing domes and aided by balls of light that appear in the fields. In the film the main character Hatter is inspired and guided by the visitation of the spirit of a Celtic Warrior. This is based on the experiences of Terry who says he is given the visions of the formations while he sleeps.
Film Courage: Where can people watch “IN CIRCLES”?
Jonnie: “In Circles” is available through 108Media in North America from May 2nd 2017 on VOD. Initially on Vudu with other platforms to follow (like iTunes). It will be released theatrically and on DVD in the UK later in the summer. Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Scandinavia and Germany will follow and hopefully many more.
Film Courage: What is next for you creatively?
Jonnie: Several things actually. I have a comedy script “Abra-Ca-Debra” which Elephant Features are hoping to shoot later this year. Ian and I are working with Cassandra (who plays Lara in “In Circles”) on the script for a WW1 revenge film, which we are looking to shoot in 2018 as the next MansonHurn directing project. Ideally though we would love to make the anarchic comedy “Rat Scabies & The Holy Grail”. Adapted from the book of the same name by Christopher Dawes it is about Rat Scabies, the former drummer with the band The Damned, and his year-long quest to find the Holy Grail in the south of France.
It has been described as “The Punk Da Vinci Code!”
Genre: 108 MadCap,Drama,Mystery,Sci-Fi
Cast: Jon Campling, Chloe Farnworth, James Fisher, Dan Burman
Crew: Jonnie Hurn, Ian Manson
Year of production: 2016
Running time: 89 Minutes
IN CIRCLES is the directorial debut of the two directors Jonnie Hurn and Ian Manson (a.k.a. Manson Hurn), who tired of the usual routine wanted to make their debut something different from the usual zombie/horror based first feature.
The double -headed director beast Manson Hurn was conceived on a canal barge in November 2012 and born on -set in the Wiltshire countryside the following year. Noted for its maverick approach to film making thanks to hard graft on numerous low and microbudget films Manson Hurn has a knack of making something out of nothing and see the lack of resources, time or funds as artist challenges rather than drawbacks.
CONNECT WITH IN CIRCLES MOVIE:
IN CIRCLES – The clandestine world of crop circles is threatened when an ambitious TV journalist plans to expose the truth drawing her into the enigma of lights, Celtic mythology and UFOs to discover both the beauty and danger in the mystery she seeks.
EXODUS documents the journey of Syrian refugees as they cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece. In the winter of 2015, over three thousand refugees attempted this treacherous crossing everyday, all in hope of seeking asylum in the European Union. It’s a life and death gamble that they are willing to take, all for a chance at a new life away from their war-torn homeland.
FREAK OUT: Matan, a soldier in the IDF, sets off for a week of patrolling in a remote base in the north of Israel with three soldiers whom he doesn’t know. As the week progresses, the soldiers begin to question whether they will come out of this experience alive.
THE HOLLY KANE EXPERIMENT: An obsessive psychologist attempts to reprogram her subconscious mind, but when her actions become increasingly uncharacteristic she fears her experiment is dangerously out of control.