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24th May 2015
Lipstick boy
Title of film: Grace
Director: Tomas Mankovsky
Production Company: Blink
INSPIRED BY A CHILLING AND BAFFLING TRUE STORY TOMAS MANKOVSKY WROTE AND DIRECTED A FILM BASED ON A CHANCE FINDING OF AN OLD NEWSPAPER

How did you discover this story and what was the process of evolving it into a film?

Funny enough, when I shot my last 3-minute film (short/promo for Adrian Corker – Interdependence. See in Related Content) all the locations we found were in and around Leytonstone and Epping Forest. I fell in love with the woods, I guess it’s as close to Sweden as one can come in London. My wife and I decided to leave Hackney after nearly 10 years and bought a house in Leytonstone.

During the DIY process I bumped into a lot of old newspapers left under cheap flooring for insulation and during my breaks I read them just for fun. This one article in a paper from 1997 stood out to me. It was about a missing father and son that later had been found in a car crash. The odd thing was that the boy had lipstick marks on his lips, which was applied AFTER his death.

I searched online for more info or clues and found a few articles sort of saying the same thing – they never found out how the lipstick got there. So I started thinking about different scenarios and this one, darkly romantic tale shaped itself in the back of my head. I just had to make it. I wrote a little script and spoke to James Studholme at Blink who got intrigued and backed me up. With a tiny budget and a lot of favours we managed to bring it to life. Long story short, if I hadn’t made the Adrian Corker promo, this short might not have been made.

What were the main challenges of the shoot and production?

It was pretty tricky to find a location actually. Because of the limited resources we were quite restricted in where we could put the car. I found a few gorgeous hills, as if the car had slid of a road and tumbled down a hill. But during our recces they proved to be unsafe without certain equipment. I was also playing with the thought of putting the car up in an old tree in Epping Forest, as if it’s crashed through a road barrier and fallen from the sky but needless to say, that was a no-go. Eventually we found this quarry just outside London which had a slight incline where the couple could sit, a romantic vibe, yet for the ending it had a bit of scale and mightyness.
I also wanted the reveal of the boy as well as the car to be in the same shot. Starting very close on the couple, then reveal the dead boy, then move out to this aerial shot of the scene. Again, that was dreamland and I had to settle with a cut between the two moments.

It’s a very chilling tale based on a true story. What do you really think happened?

I’ve had so many different scenarios in my head, from dogs licking their owners on their lips and then finding the boy, to outcast hillbillies living in the woods with a weird fetish, or even the police officer playing a disturbed joke on his colleagues, a joke that goes wrong and spirals out of control. In the end, I chose to settle for something more romantic.
It’s dark. And as JC at MPC said ‘Hmm.. necrophilia, it’s not a common topic.’, it is a pretty controversial topic. But I like the overall philosophy in life that even in the darkest pit, there’s some kind of light.

One of the articles that inspired it:

http://www.bbc-archive.com/news/1997/10/23/lipstick-boy-case-still-unsolved_n_7205492.html

Credits