Compos Mentis Productions
The Pit and the Pendulum: A study in torture

Credit block with names


The original story of the Pit and the Pendulum was set in the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of people were captured, tortured and punished simply for following their faith, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is remarkably resonant with events in the world today. Torture in the Spanish Inquisition was not used for punishment, but was used to elicit information. Can we say 'Enhanced Interrogation'?

Our adaptation of Poe's story is based in the contemporary world where religion and politics still live in uneasy tension. Ordinary people of faith are caught up in events beyond their control and end up persecuted for practicing the 'wrong' faith.

The irony is that the 3 main religions in conflict - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - are all religions of the Book and all worship the same God, albeit with different names - Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah. These religions are collectively known as the Abrahamic religions.

Our Prisoner is a man of peace and faith - we do not know which faith - who is arrested and held for questioning. Alone in the dark, he begins to hallucinate.

He imagines that he is brought before a religious tribunal comprising judges from the 3 Abrahamic religions.

Each judge demands to know which religion the Prisoner practices. He defies their demands, partly because no matter what he says 2 of the 3 judges will reject him, but also because he will answer only and directly to God.

Denounced as a heretic, infidel, blasphemer by the Tribunal, the Prisoner is sentenced to death. He finds himself in a cell where he is tortured and suffers intense hallucinations that become increasingly terrifying.

But the true reality of his situation is worse than any terror he could have imagined.


Cast & Crew


The Prisoner: Stephen Marcus (Quills, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Kinky Boots)

Christian Judge: Paul McGann (Dr Who, Hornblower, Luther)

Jewish Judge: Nicholas Farrell (Chariots of Fire, Diary of Anne Frank, Torchwood)

Muslim Judge: Jeffery Kissoon (Space 1999, Hamlet, Dirty Pretty Things)

The Clerk of Courts (the Devil)/ Intelligence officer/Father Time: Tom Bonington

Guard with dog: Kris Sommerville

Interrogating guard: Paul Blackwell

Prisoners: Adam Anouer, Faz Buffery, John Duggan, Can Somer, Jack Sapworth

Swiss Guards: Alex Dee, Chris Bell

Court Security: Ricky Clarke, Robert Bond

Angel of Death: Chloe Farnworth

Waterboarding Houris: Chloe Farnworth, Sophie Dillon, Mimmi Brorsson

Army Medic: Susan Fordham

Rescuers: Dean Allsop, Anthony Farelly, Matt Sapworth, Paul Swinmurn


Writer/Director: Fiona Bavinton

Producers: Clare Cahill, Patricia Rybarczyk and Fiona Bavinton

Production Manager: Patricia Rybarczyk

Production Coordinator: Carolyn Davies

Production Assistants: Brendan Carr, Claire Watson, Natalie Blackman

Runners: Leila Newton-Fox, Jonathan Sayegh, Alyce Yessouroun

1st AD: Clare Cahill

Script Supervisor: Taz Ayoub, Natalie Blackman

Casting Director: Elleanne Green

Director of Photography: Dawid Pietkiewicz

Additional Photography: Paul Jenkins

Camera Technical Consultant: Andrew Martin

Steadicam: James Elias

Focus Pullers: Josh Green, Neil Irwin

Clapper/Loader: James Chegwyn

Gaffer: Simon Olney

Lighting team: Adrian Atkins, Alex Macaulay, Dominik Palgan, Jan Vaceanu Stoica

Art Department: Paulina Rzeszowska, Becky Slaytor, Deb Spicer Rowley, Karel Jurga

Prison set construction: Jason Desporte

Costume Designer: Kim Tizard-Lee

Makeup Designer: Ali Reith

Makeup team: Alexis Dolman, Danielle Killick, Anna Inglis Hall, Victoria Stride

VFX Supervisor: Kostas Kotsoliotas

VFX and opening titles: Fiona Bavinton

SFX/Lead Armourer: Matt Strange

Armourer: Clive Shaw

Stunt Coordinator: Russell MacLeod

Animal handler (dog): Kris Sommerville

Animal handler (rats): Kate Mitchell, John Braniff, Tom Mitchell

Sound Mixer: Tom Harburt, Jake Whitelee, Nate Kastoryano, Simon Hornett

Boom Operator: Josh Ward

DIT: Alan Andrade

Production Stills: Alex Brenner, Polly Tootal

EPK: Daniel Salter, Shane Sirman, Brendan Carr and Carolyn Davies

Thank you

Thank you for supporting our film!

IndieGoGo supporters

Denis Cahill

Rob Crowther

Dan Sowter

Rory O'Donnell

Theresa McClartt

Diana Eccles

Suzanne Downham

Kate Mandalov

Katerina Zenklova

Ben Richards

Andy Newman

Dan McSherry

Shoshana Berkovic

Marjolein Kleinman

Juliet and Tom Honey

Harriet Barbir

Jo Buckman

Anne Holmes

Giles Alderson

Michael Ellis

Judith Jackson

Simon and Nicki Carter

Ant Marians

Brigid Cahill

Heidi Perry

Cat Cranston

Ellen Wong

Betty Ann Noir

Michael Koltes

Eaoifa Forward

Berty Cadilhac

Robert Bond

and our six anonymous supporters - we thank you whoever you are xx

And also...

A lot of people and companies have helped to make this film possible and we want to publicly thank them.

Andrew Martin from 5K Digital ( for the Epic camera we used on the shoot

Jason and the team at Chislehurst Caves ( for a jaw-droppingly awesome location and practical support

Matt and the team at Decode ( for their help with getting the lighting to and from the location

Matt Strange, armourer, for weapons, and SFX consultancy

Kris Somerville at SSU ( for the military uniforms and dog handling

Joe McNally at Joe's Jibs ( for helping out with the Bartech Follow Focus system

Kate Jones at English Touring Theatre ( for use of a rehearsal room.

Neil Horner of Imageynation ( for the extra Epic cards when we were shooting HDRx