Ben Wheatley (Sightseers) has recently revealed some early illustrated concept art for his latest cinematic outing Free Fire via Empire magazine.
Click here for a closer look.
The concept art is remarkably close to the finished product, largely due to the heavy pre-production from Wheatley's team, including production designer Paki Smith (The Open Road) and cinematographer Laurie Rose (High-Rise). The search for a suitable location led the team to the former HQ of Brighton's leading paper, The Argus – as luck would have it, just round the corner from Wheatley's own house. "It was perfect," says Smith. "It was a lovely empty space with nicely painted walls and floors. We made a complete fuck-up of it, which was great."
But it wasn't a free-for-all shoot first, ask questions later kind of shoot out – every gunshot and manoeuvre was meticulously planned. "Seven weeks before we started filming, we had to decide where all the bullet hits were going," says Wheatley. "The action couldn't really change. You could come unstuck quite badly if you didn’t think about how someone was going to get from A to B, and fuck, if all along they could see each other and shoot at each other. So as we were building it, I would say, 'These walls are too high or too low,' and we adjusted it as we went along."
Free Fire is set in Boston in 1978. The story, which Wheatley is pitching as a muscular crime flick in the spirit of Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samouraï), Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep), Walter Hill (The Driver) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street), charts the fallout from a gun-running hook-up orchestrated by Brie Larson (The Spectacular Now) in a deserted warehouse. At its centre are two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley), on a connect with a pair of arms traffickers, Ord (Armie Hammer) and Vernon (Sharlto Copley), but soon wishing they had given the whole enterprise a wide berth when the bullets start flying. Cue a desperate battle for survival.
Free Fire will arrive in UK cinemas on 31 March.