A Black Dust Films Production, in association with Restless Chimp Films
The battle for Ryan’s soul is fought by Father Luca, a newly ordained priest with a dark past.
After years of family estrangement, Father Luca is called upon by his cousin Elena, Ryan’s wife, to exorcise the demon within her husband. While Elena’s brother, Alex, keeps his promise to Ryan to film the whole process for their videography business, Luca struggles with disturbing dreams of his past which intensify with each passing day.
The demon holds Ryan captive, relishing in the heartache and chaos caused by its presence.
It feeds on Luca’s inexperience, taunting him about the hypocrisies of his faith. It knows the life he had. A life far from God.
It waits for the right moment to unleash a dark secret that will shatter the family forever.
About the Production
Writer/director Martin Smith has always been fascinated with the idea of demons and devils, and the difference between faith and the laws of a church.
He wanted to explore this in Inner Devils by using the central possessed character as a verbal weapon to push ideas and exploit weaknesses in others, instead of another spinning heads and vomiting ‘possession’ film.
We did research to try and include the ideas and differences in other faiths in the script. In hindsight, it may have been a bit ambitious to cover everything we wanted and still create an engaging drama within the time-frame and budget.
However, the end result is definitely on the right track, thanks to the dedicated cast and crew. There’s still a bigger story in there waiting to be told.
The lead role of Father Luca was written with actor Kal Sabir in mind. Martin and Kal have worked on projects in the past, and Inner Devils was conceived as a vehicle for both – for Martin to explore his fascination with demons, faith, and church laws (as suggested above), and for Kal to dive in to an exciting role which challenges stereotypes.
For the roles of Ryan, Elena, Alex, and Ana, we turned to casting platforms such as Spotlight and Mandy, combined with a social media call-out.
Our goal was to hire professional, local, and diverse talent who would bring fresh energy and interpretation to the table.
Elena and Alex are siblings, whereas Luca is their distant cousin. It was important the three actors who would play these roles looked as if they could be related.
The character of Elena, Ryan’s wife, is played by Estonian actress Natalia Gonchar. Her agent responded to our call-out and was adamant Natalia would be perfect for the role. As she was based in Aberdeen and our budget would not cover travel to and accommodation in Glasgow (our production base), we were initially reluctant. Plus, we had already received a number of good Glasgow-based options for the role.
But, she really did fit the look of Elena that we were after. We asked for a self-tape, which was spot on. The decision was made, we made it work: she had friends in Glasgow for accommodation, we covered travel to/from Glasgow.
Elena’s brother, Alex is played by Transylvanian actor (and stand-up comedian) Sylas Szabolcs. The character is strong, inquisitive, and a source of support for Elena. He also faces up to Luca for reasons we won’t go into here. Sylas’ audition was the first we received for the role and it hit all the right notes.
For the possessed character of Ryan, the key instigator of conflict in Inner Devils, we were seeking an actor who could portray not only the scheming demon within, but also the vulnerable lost soul looking for solace where he shouldn’t. Scottish actor Chris Dennis’ audition for the role was impressive and ticked all the right boxes.
Finally, the role of Ana is played by Scottish actress Saffron J Mullen. We’d love to tell you more about the character and what we were looking for, but that would reveal key plot developments of the film.
We can share that Saffron’s interpretation of the role was genuinely moving and portrayed the right tone and feel for a pivotal scene in Inner Devils.
Our first port of call was to secure a Director of Photography, but that proved a challenge considering our micro-budget. We put a call out on Mandy and social media, but very few were keen to take on the low budget project.
Through web searches we eventually found the website of Michael Westcott, an award-winning wedding and commercial videographer. He has worked on short films in the past and was keen to expand his portfolio.
In gathering a Sound Crew we had similar challenges. Very few were biting on our Mandy call-out, those who did were based in London which was out of the question due to budget constraints.
Eventually we found Jamie MacPherson through one of director Martin Smith’s contacts. She is a MA student in Sound Production at the University of the West of Scotland. The second half of the Sound Team is Daniel Marra, sound recordist, who we found via web search and were impressed by his website portfolio.
Make-up is a key element in Inner Devils especially for the character of Ryan. In finding a Make-up Artist we contacted Glasgow colleges that offered Film/TV makeup courses, in the hope they might share our call-out with interested students.
We have been very lucky to secure make-up artist Hannah Daw via the City of Glasgow College. She has done an exceptional job in coming up with the look of the possessed Ryan.
Finally, our Unit Stills Photographer and Runner roles were covered by Cecilia Volpi who has a variety of experience in photography and film, including Lighting. Not only has she been an amazing help on set in getting things done, she is a talented photographer – her behind-the-scenes photography captured key moments of the cast and crew at work.
Choosing the right location for Inner Devils was vital in not only raising production values, but also as an element of authenticity for the story.
We initially approached a number of churches with the hope they might be open to allowing us to film in their premises.
Most venues were still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those that did reply were understandably reluctant to accommodate due to the subject matter of the film.
We settled on a community centre in the south side of Glasgow, Clyde Community Hall. It was an ideal location with multiple rooms, a reception, kitchen, toilets, and a large hall area in which the main scenes would take place.
We chose a community centre as a natural development in the story – it would be plausible that Father Luca would secure such a location through his contacts; somewhere that is spacious, provides accommodation, cleaning facilities, and a kitchen to prepare food. It also helped to reduce costs as 99% of the film takes place in that location.
The other 1% was filmed in student accommodation at the University of the West of Scotland where director Martin Smith works in the ITC department.
Principal Photography took place over three days at Clyde Community Hall, and over half a day the following week at the University of the West of Scotland.
We have been very lucky to have secured such a talented cast and crew, who shared a passion and drive to make an exceptional product with combined skills and experience.
About the Cast
Kal Sabir as Father Luca
Kal is a Scot-ish actor, writer, and producer. Described as a professional, dedicated, and passionate performer, Kal enjoys working on new writing and off-the-wall projects.
From a young age, Kal acquired an interest in acting through his love of adventure films – in reality they were escapism from being a South Asian kid in 1980’s Glasgow, but provided great source material for a future project.
He took the scenic route to becoming an actor by first studying Computer Science at the University of Strathclyde, and then completed a Masters in Acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In 2022, Kal was 1 of 8 chosen for a Discover Artist Residency with the National Theatre of Scotland to research, explore, and develop a new theatre piece. His chosen topic: The pandemic’s impact on care in the community.
FILM: Mary Queen of Scots (Working Title), Bell Bottom (Pooja Films), Tehran (Maddok Films)
TV: Slow Horses (Apple TV+), Armchair Detectives (BBC)
THEATRE: Romeo & Juliet (Secret Theatre), Loyalty & Dissent (Tamasha Theatre), Glass Roots (Tristan Bates), By The End Of Us (Blockstop), Horizontal Collaboration (Fire Exit)
Saffron J Mullen as Ana
Trained in Acting & Performance for Stage (HNC) & 1 year Acting at UCLAN’s Institute of Performing Arts, Saffron had considerable time after this travelling like a wandering gypsy & forming valuable life experience.
She sampled acting for camera in her early 30s & found success in her first auditions, realising film-making was her niche. Her first TV appearance (BBC) as a serious assault victim in a crime reconstruction resulted in an arrest & sentence after public support. She has appeared in many shorts, 2 which won awards throughout international or US film festivals.
Her portrayal of a ‘zone out’ for Epilepsy awareness received the best international short film award by Epilepsy charities. Short Horror, ‘She of The Land’ revealed an uglier character with hidden strengths, a shock factor she also finds appealing in roles.
She is appearing in a trilogy of feature films ‘Holiday Monday’ & ‘Holiday Monday II: Brothers In Arms’ at post production stage as a Supporting Actor. She’s also a warm & sincere contribution to commercials, corporate & stills photography.
As well as a love of creativity, Saffron is a trained Holistic Therapist & Lifestyle coach. She is particularly interested in art/performance projects which highlight societal & cultural issues.
She hosts a community radio show & podcast ‘Serenity Sister’, a small social enterprise ‘Weegie Wellbeing’ & loves time in nature, with dogs and most things that embrace living consciously (with a dash of good Netflix drama!).
Link Tree: linkt.ree/saffronj
Chris Dennis as Ryan
Chris is a Scottish actor and aspiring writer with growing experience in the industry. He has been involved in an array of short films projects and theatre productions over the years including a UK and Australian tour. In 2019 Chris went back to study and attained his BA Acting degree at New College Lanarkshire.
Past credits include:
Armchair Detectives (BBC/ Tiger Aspect Productions), Trainspotting Live (In Your Face Theatre/ Seabright Productions) and most recently featured in Season 6 of Outlander (Sony/ Left Bank pictures).
Chris thoroughly enjoyed working with a great team on this short film project and looks forward to seeing the final cut.
Natalia Gonchar as Elena
Natalia has always wanted to be on stage or on camera, whether it’s acting, singing or dancing -which she has been doing since the age of 9. She finished music school with a degree in piano.
After moving to Aberdeen she studied in and performed with Aberdeen College of Performing Arts (where she is also a dance captain), National Theatre of Scotland, and Ten Feet Tall Theatre. In 2022, she worked on the feature film Tetris directed Jon S Baird, and was in several Aberdeen adverts.
Sylas Szabolcs as Alex
About the Filmmakers
Martin Smith: Writer/Director
Martin is based in Glasgow and has had a variety of IT related jobs over the years.
His main interest has always been audio/video and he would take any opportunity to turn his work in that direction. He has done a few short films and screen-related projects over the years.
He currently works at The University Of The West Of Scotland and also as a freelance videographer, producing corporate training videos and media based projects.
He dreams of one day making a proper Godzilla movie!!
Kal Sabir: Producer
Kal completed the Producers Foundation Certificate via Raindance Film School during the early onset of the pandemic in 2020.
The seemingly never ending lockdowns allowed him to focus more on writing and producing his own work.
He wrote Eat Me, a one minute short film for the Raindance Lockdown Lovers Film Competition 2021. It had two actors (him being one) filming their scenes in different locations for COVID safety. The clips were then edited together (by the magnificent Martin Smith) to give the illusion that the characters were interacting in the same space.
Later that year, he wrote The Key, based on an idea by Martin Smith, for the BIFA Host 3-minute Horror Film Competition.
In October 2021, he set up his company Restless Chimp Films Ltd as a vehicle for producing his own work.
Inner Devils is the first project through the company and is a co-production with Martin Smith’s Black Dust Films.
Michael Westcott: Director of Photography
Michael never goes out without a camera as film-making is his job and passion. He has been in the industry for the last 12 years filming/photographing a broad range of projects ranging from weddings all over the UK to commercial projects for a wide variety of clients. He also has a huge passion for wildlife. Taking on the role as DOP for short films is something he feels he likes the most and hopes to do more of in the near future.
Link Tree: linkt.ree/michaelwestcottfilms
Jamie MacPherson: Sound Crew
Jamie is a student at the University of the West of Scotland studying for her MA in Sound Production and has just finished her BSc Hons in Music Technology.
She has experience working in the music industry from both running sound at live events and studio recording and mixing; along with a history of volunteering to operate sound systems at events and venues. She has worked in several studios to mix and master several albums and record many bands and has also travelled around the UK to help with crewing and running concerts of varying sizes.
Jamie wishes to continue to produce music in both live and studio settings, she is passionate about the impact music has in peoples’ lives – feeling strongly about helping to capture music and share it with people – and wants to be a part of that process.
She is also experienced with Foley Work and Sound Design for film and TV with a focus on using DAWs and synthesisers to create sound effects.
Daniel Marra: Sound Crew
Daniel studied sound production at West College Scotland and later sound design at Edinburgh Napier University. Since graduating last year, he has been working as a sound recordist and dialogue editor for commercial projects. Inner Devils is his first time acting as a boom op on the set of a film, with his previous experience for film being mostly focused on post-production sound.
Hannah Daw: Make-up Artist
Hannah is a Scottish special effects make-up artist with a passion for anything horror or fantasy related. At the time of filming (May 2022) she was weeks away from finishing her HND in make-up artistry and hopes to continue her career post college into the film and TV industry.
“My experience on sets like this have reinforced my passion and have been the highlight of my degree.” – Hannah Daw
Cecilia Volpi: Lighting / Unit Stills Photographer / Runner
Cecilia Volpi is an Italian photographer based in Edinburgh, who completed her studies at Edinburgh Napier University with a Bachelor degree of Photography.
She shoots a diverse range of subjects, focusing on film unit stills, behind the scenes, event photography and portraiture.
Her personal work is characterised by a cinematic style and a love for experimental lighting and neon aesthetics.