A movie director from Surrey who left behind his English roots for Los Angeles has returned to his country of origin to film and promote his latest short film.

Surrey-born Benjamin South directs The Ark, a short, tense sci-fi thriller that will premier at the OSCAR qualifying LA Shorts film festival that runs throughout July.

Benjamin was born in Frimley, Surrey, and moved to LA after finishing his A-Levels.

Having since graduated from the New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, the Surrey man turned his attention to working on his own films, including The Ark that was originally intended to be used for his thesis at university before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Benjamin described how he collaborated with author AM Khalifa on the screenplay, which was based on a previous story by the Italian writer titled 'Virus':

"The first thing we changed was the title of the project 'Virus' to 'The ARK'. We felt that when you received an email and the subject said 'Virus' people would be less inclined to open it.

Surrey Comet: Still from The Ark by Benjamin SouthStill from The Ark by Benjamin South

"And given how the pandemic played out, I have to say we were quite prescient in canning Virus," he said.

While Benjamin had planned to shoot out in LA, Covid-related restrictions forced his hand and he decided to switch production to Surrey where he had seen out the first wave of lockdown last year with his family.

"Rather than wait for Los Angele to reopen, I would shift the entire production to the UK. Including casting, crew, locations, everything. I called Scotty and A.M. Khalifa and they were both as insane as I was and agreed to the decision to shoot in London.

"We scrambled six months of pre-production into six weeks. We found a beautiful hotel in Surrey. Wotton House. It was a perfect marriage," the Surrey man said.

Over the following weeks Benjamin, AM Khalifa and the team set to work making the movie, with weeks of pre-production and four nights shooting in some classic British conditions.

Surrey Comet: The Ark 'members' during productionThe Ark 'members' during production

"With the help of Jo Winter and Sean Swaby, we shot the film over four nights in cold, wet, bleak, dreary, depressing, rainy (I’m running out of adjectives to describe how the crew, cast and I felt) conditions.

"It was an ambitious schedule considering how many set ups were needed each night...It felt like a once-in-a-hundred-years opportunity."

The Ark stars Shaq. B Grant as Herbert and Laura Hanna as Jacinda, with Carlotta Bannat supporting as Gurjeet.

It premiered last week (July 8) in LA and is available to watch online throughout July online. Click here for more information.