Union VFX - Mindhorn


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Director | Sean Foley

Union help revive Mindhorn’s Career

As a captured MI5 Special Operative, Bruce Mindhorn's eye was replaced by a super-advanced optical lie detector, which meant he could literally 'see the truth'. Mindhorn escaped and fled to the Isle of Man to recuperate where he became the best plain-clothes detective the island had ever seen.

This was the premise of hit 1980s detective show Mindhorn in which, the now washed-up actor, Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt) found fame. 

Decades later, when a deranged Manx criminal demands only to speak to “Detective Mindhorn”, whom he believes to be a real person, Thorncroft returns to the scene of his greatest triumph for one last chance to reignite his glory days and professional credibility.

VFX Supervisor Simon Hughes comments: “This was such a fun project to get involved with - particularly as a fan of The Mighty Boosh.  Director Sean Foley was keen to use VFX in a playful way to help articulate story points and enhance what had been captured in camera. Our work was a mix of really subtle environment work and more obvious, very 80s effects and sequences that add to the hilarity.”

Thorncroft fine-tunes his acting performances through the practice of “dramatic capoeira” and puts it into practice when under fire.  This was shot at 48fps in order to be shown in slow motion.  Union helped re-time some of the sequences to add bullet hits and squibs to the already humorous performance.  There were also additional sequences of this shot on greenscreen and composited into plates from the location.

The team were also charged with bringing Detective Mindhorn’s unique ‘eye of truth’ to life through a series of fun in-eye and point of view effects as well as enhancing the 80s-esque on-set action sequences with bullet hits and flashes.

In total the team completed 147 shots, many of which demonstrate the scale of our villain's obsession with Detective Mindhorn by populating his lair with multiple screens and monitors replaying poignant sequences and interviews from his prime. 

We see some of those moments in more detail during the film, in particular, an infamous moment from his chat show.  This was filmed green screen with backgrounds added by Union.  Similar techniques were used to make Kenneth Branagh appear on TV from Hollywood.

Our hero of sorts also experiences hallucinations when captured in which the object of his affection, Patricia Deville morphs into Major Nicholas Farrell complete with lipstick.

Mindhorn is a Scott Free Films production in association with Baby Cow Productions and StudioCanal for BBC Films, Isle of Man Films, Pinewood Pictures and BFI.