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Inspired by such no-budget success stories as Bad Taste, Eraserhead and El Mariachi, Fatigue is the feature film debut of Cardiff-based writer-director Michael Barnes. A fast-paced action thriller set in the seedy underworld of guns and gangsters, Fatigue was shot in and around Cardiff over the last five years; its impressive photography and variety of locations belying its tiny budget and lengthy shooting schedule.

The making of Fatigue has been a long and arduous process for director Barnes and producers Mark Faiers and Chris Dawson. "We knew it was going to be a long shoot when we started out, but not five years long", confesses Faiers, "but we kept having to stop shooting every time the money ran out". All the cast and crew on Fatigue gave their time for free, most of the equipment was blagged for next to nothing, with money for film stock and processing the major expense. "There are some plus points about not having a budget though", claims Faiers. "With a small cast and crew we can move with much more freedom and shoot wherever we like. Anyone else would have had to spend a fortune to get our fairground scene on screen".

One of the film's high spots, the chase through the fairground, lasts less than four minutes on screen but took an incredible two years to film, Back in 1996, Fatigue's first day of shooting was at the fairground, part of Cardiff's annual Summer Festival, but a camera breakdown meant that Barnes couldn't get all the footage he needed so the film-makers had to return to the same fairground when it returned to Cardiff, a whole year later. Seeing the assembled footage from the two different fairground shoots, Barnes realised that they wouldn't cut together and so the cast and crew had to go back a third time in 1998. "we'll be back there next year" jokes Faiers, but shooting is now complete on Fatigue and Branes is cutting the film, while Faiers and Dawson put together the soundtrack.

With production behind them, the three can now look back on some of the more 'unusual' hitches with a degree of humour. "We were filming in a scrap yard", says Barnes, "and everything was going fine until the scrap yard owner turned up with a shotgun. He just kept walking around while we were trying to film shouting 'are you finished yet?' and firing his shotgun into the wrecked cars". Gun-toting scrap yard owners aside, Fatigue's had its fair share of other problems. Faiers broke has wrist, split his head open and also crashed his car, whilst Barnes broke his leg. "We had to get through it though", says Faiers, "we all put too much time and money into it to just give up

Despite the film's low cost and protracted shoot, the standard of the finished product is extremely high. Faiers is currently touting a trailer, in search of a distributor for the film and is confident of Fatigue's mass audience appeal. "We're very excited about the film", says Faiers. "It has a tough, gritty look very British. We can't wait to see it with an audience and get their reaction to it. I'm sure they'll be very impressed".


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