The Mysterious Disappearence of M. M. Bayliss

Short Film, 2014

A young man is woken one night by a set of haunted keys that float before him. Guided through his empty house by the possessed keys, he discovers a dark room hiding an even darker secret.


Making Of

It all started with two rolls of 16mm FujiFilm Eterna 8673 500T, sitting in our fridge, bought with the intention of shooting some film camera tests.

But not content with “wasting” the film on lighting tests, given the ever increasing scarcity of the format, we decided to come up with a short, entertaining story that fit the criteria – we had 2x 400ft loadings of 16mm, which equates to roughly 22mins _(24fps), so it was clear that we would have to keep things relatively simple.

We immediately wrote off the idea of any dialogue or sound recording, partly as it opened the door to potential retakes due to dialogue fumbles but mainly because the Arri 16SR we were going to shoot on wasn’t particularly quiet!

We used what was available to us and decided to create a Twilight Zone-esque short story that would hopefully have some charm to it. We did a quick storyboard and calculated that we could just about squeeze a 9.5min short out of the two rolls (with enough room for retakes and rolling on/checking the gate after each shot).

The whole experience was one that we will never forget and hopefully repeat in the future. The small five person crew worked quickly and efficiently; knowing that there was “more at stake” when the camera rolled pushed all our standards to a new level.

Battling stubborn keys on string that just wouldn’t stay where we wanted them (yes… very old school), a box that wasn’t really big enough for our actor to get inside and a homemade double-wicked candle that seemed to have a vendetta against him (hot wax!), we pushed to get everything we needed on the minimal amount of film stock we had available – A 2:1 shooting ratio is something we were very proud of, and still are, in fact we over shot slightly and ended up leaving two shots on the cutting room floor!

From start to finish, the project was thoroughly enjoyable. It pushed our understanding and standards, and challenged us to try just that bit harder to hopefully make the final film that bit better.

We were interviewed by NoFilmschool regarding the process of making this short film, please follow the link to read that article: “Shooting Film in a Digital World: A Victorian Ghost Story Comes to Life in Glorious 16mm”

Why Film?

The Mysterious Disappearance of M.M.Bayliss is an homage to classic Victorian ghost stories and the weird tales of the Twilight Zone serials. This short film was shot on only 800ft of 16mm Fuji-film to achieve the distinct and unique aesthetic audiences associate with the classic ghost films of the past.

In an increasingly digital World, my brother and I want to stand up as part of a younger generation and show that the film medium matters to us.

Growing up in the 90’s, going to see a film meant something very particular; like many before us, but sadly few after, seeing a movie in the cinema came with the knowledge that you would be watching a film, shot on film, projected on film.

There was something captivating about knowing that at its heart, what you were watching was a simple visual illusion; the mind being tricked by fast moving pictures. It was physical, it was visceral, the projector made a noise and the print got scratched and dusty over time and it was part of the magic that from an early age, inspired us to pursue our passion; how could something so complex, vast and alluring to so many, come from something, that at its roots, was so simple?

Having long dreamt of being feature film directors, we always pictured ourselves one day shooting on film. We longed to stand beside a Panavision 35mm camera, because for us, film and film-making were so strongly intertwined.

But we have grown up at a very interesting time; we are a digital generation with its roots in an analogue world, at the edge of a new era of opportunities for filmmakers.

We have grabbed the new exciting opportunities that digital filmmaking offers, from the early home computer based editing software and handycams, to the new wave of cutting edge cameras, we owe our training to digital advancements. But with so many so eager to push forwards to the future, we were desperately clinging to, what seemed, might soon be the past. For this reason, we decided to get on with it - with film manufacturers dwindling before our eyes, we wanted to shoot film before it would seemingly be gone forever.

This is our first project on 16mm film and hopefully it won’t be our last. The experience we had in creating this short story was beyond our expectations of what it meant to shoot film; the sound of the camera whirring beside your ear, the sight of the shutter flickering in the viewfinder and the pressure to get it right first time, every time, drove our standards as a crew to an all time high.

Film still has a place, it may not be as economical as digital and it may be harder to shoot, but that is what makes it great. Film itself demands more from filmmakers. Its connection with the heritage of filmmaking and the origins of this industry means it is something we should never discard from our storytelling tool kits.

My brother and I owe so much to digital; for the opportunities it has afforded us and the accessibility it has created, but we will always love film and what it represents.


Directed & Produced by:
Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver

Marc Maclaren Baylis

Development by Technicolor UK