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Q&A with film maker Mark Brown, co-director of Corinthian

Thursday 16 July 2015, by Abla Kandalaft

Mark Brown is a screenwriter and founding member of Braine Hownd Films. The P.O.C. teaser of his film Corinthian is currently on the festival circuit, screening at the Reading Fringe Film Festival this week. Mark is also a playwright and has had his plays performed at theatres such as The Old Red Lion, The Kings Head and the Soho Theatre in London.

How as the film company set up?

Braine Hownd Films was set up in 2006 by Phil Haine and myself when we made our first film The Empty Chair. He came up with the name, which is pretty much the first letters of our surnames switched around.

What were the biggest hurdles?

Money and lack of experience to begin with. Experience comes with the doing but money has always been difficult to come by. All of our stuff is self-funded. Partially because we don’t like to hang around waiting months for funding bodies to respond and partially because we just don’t make films that qualify for a lot of these funds. Whether it’s to do with age, subject matter, tone, we have rarely been in the running.

What’s the idea behind Corinthian?

I was inspired by several things. Firstly, I wanted to make a purely visual film. Most of my writing is quite dialogue-driven so I wanted to see if I could go the other way. The crux of the idea came from the recession and the lengths you see people going to to provide for their families or to maintain there status within society. So that combined with the fact that David and Victoria are both great dramatic actors that are mostly cast in comic parts. So I wanted to give them an opportunity to show that side of their talent.

Where do you hope to take Corinthian?

I quickly developed a feature film idea that expands on the short and adds in another story strand. The success on the festival circuit will hopefully help us get the money to make that at some point in the next year.

How do you transition between film and theatre?

I came to London to make films. That was always my aim but I fell into theatre and fell in love with theatre. I think theatre helped me find my voice as a writer in a more effective way than if I had gone straight into film. But in regards to differences, there aren’t that many for me, as I do things in a similar way in both camps. I like to rehearse and examine the text and I still work with a lot of the people I worked with in theatre and film. I met David (Whitney, the lead actor in Corinthian, ed.) doing my second play over a decade ago.

What advice would you give aspiring film makers?

Surround yourself with good people. Honest people who can do the things that you can’t and will tell you what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. This is why Fred (Fournier, co-director, ed.) and I worked well together on Corinthian. He is much more technically-minded than me and so was invaluable when designing shots and communicating with the crew. And Dan our first AD, a successful director in his own right, was brilliant at telling me straight what we could get time-wise and making sure we did get it on the day.

What has been your favourite festival experience?

Probably going to the Cayman Islands International film festival where we were nominated for Best Short. It was a stunning place and there were people there such as Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver in case you didn’t know) doing talks and mingling with everyone at the end of festival party and awards ceremony. I met some great people and got to take Victoria (who is my fiancée as well as my leading lady) and my baby daughter with me. So it was a great family experience as well as a professional one.

What have you found most helpful when it came to building your career as a film maker?

The generosity of facilities houses. More often than not we have gotten great equipment for almost no money due to facilities houses doing us favours. But otherwise I would go back to good people. Work with good people and you will rarely fail.

For more info on Mark and Corinthian, click here.

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