Snippets of British presence at Clermont 2011
Monday 7 March 2011, by
Although the share of British stalls at the film market was meagre to say the least. Film makers, directors and producers certainly didn’t shy away from entering films in this year’s competition or from sending them to the film market. Special mentions go to Staffordshire University, University of Greenwich and Salford University for carrying the torch for British academia.
Joanna Beard is the assistant producer on UK competition entry I’ll tell you. She is based in Bristol and is also a film maker.
How did the team get together for I’ll tell you?
We were a very small team. It was basically Rachel and I and anyone we could drag along. Casting young actors was a challenge, as we had to take into account licencing laws.
How was the production financed?
This film was actually funded by the UK Film Council. It was one of the last ones it funded before it was axed.
Were the actors professionals?
We were very lucky to work with professional actors such as Julia Ford. The younger members of the cast weren’t professional actors but worked really well and were comfortable with each other.
How did the idea for the film come about?
Rachel saw a young, teenage couple on the tube. It made her think back to her own experiences. She wanted to capture that carefree attitude teenage couples tend to have.
What difficulties did you encounter?
The most difficult part was the production. We had to deal with changing producers and then changing locations. We went from Devon to Bristol.
More info on Joanna’s films at www.overlookfilm.com
Maverick Litchfield-Kelly is the founder of production company Neath Films. He produced Baya’a el Ward, directed by Ihab Jadallah, which featured in this year’s International Competition.
How did the collaboration with Ihad and the MPM come about?
I am a filmmaker and a producer, particularly interested in foreign films. I met Ihab at the Hamburg Film Festival back in 2008. We discussed ideas and at the same time French production company MPM was looking for a short to distribute so as to fund a future feature. They have a lot of contacts in festivals so were a lot of help with distribution. Basically it’s first of all a Palestinian film, then a British and a French one.
What was the next step?
We submitted it to the British Council who provides travel grants. And now we plan to focus on a distribution in film festivals, especially Oscar or Bafta-qualifying ones.
What were the working conditions like?
I had to sit in endless meetings in Arabic as I was very involved in every step of the process, filming, data back-up, managing rushes. One major obstacle was the inexperience of the crew, but we did have the best gaffer and an excellent DOP from the UK. Another was the language but we got by with at least one person in the crew being able to translate. There was no equipment in Palestine so we had to rent it in Tel Aviv. It was incredibly stressful negociating everything on a last minute basis, getting all of it through checkpoints.
Did you work with professional actors?
Fadi (Al Ghol, the flower seller) is a theatre actor and does children’s TV shows, but the others were maintly students and were doing this for the first time.
Do you think there is a market for short film distribution in the UK?
There are some excellent festivals in the UK, but no support from any bodies, really, whereas in France even individual regions get support. There was a quota for British productions in cinema screens but that was removed in the 80s. We do have a very strong TV industry so many people actually get their drama from television, which suggests they would go to the cinema to watch blockbusters and action films.
More info on Maverick’s work at Neath films
These thoughts were echoed by British film maker Nick Scott, aslo present at the festival. Having trained as an economist, Nick got into filming in his mid-twenties. He had a film in competition at the 2006 edition of the fest. His subsequent films, Resolve and Snails are currently in the 2011 market. All too aware of the precarious nature of film making and the increasing lack of financial help, he tried his hand at online poker, which, incredibly, provided him with the necessary funds.
Nick Scott’s two recent films exemplify his very specific and personal approach to cinematography. They are "short" shorts, both under 15 minutes long, and hold the viewer’s attention throughout as they are absorbed in one person’s intimate journey, no mean feat for a film of such length. Scott creates very meticulous pace and rhythm, alternating shots, minimal dialogue and close-ups from a dozen different angle to draw the viewer in. The characters have neither name nor back-story. Yet we are left sharing surprisingly revealing and intimate moments of their lives. Resolve stars Naomi Watts lookalike Ingrid Bolso Berdal, who gives an understated and mesmerising performance, as she goes through various interlocking phases of peculiar emotional and urban trajectories.
Shot in a similar manner, Snails follows a child who follows a snail. The camera alternates between various characters (namely the boy and his mum) and different paces suffusing the images with a creeping sense of dread.
More info on Nick’s films athttp://shootingpeople.org/cards/NickScott
Taking his cue from Ken Loach, newbie London-based film maker Giannis Georgiou encourages direct improvisation on the part of his actors. Having studied architecture, Greek national Giannis moved to London to study at the NFTS 5 years ago. Building a level of experience through institutional films, editing and other freelance opportunities, he moved on to actual directing with All Clean, which features at the film market. He gathered actors, some non-professionals, through sites such as Gumtree and built scenes from straight improvisations. This motivated him to set up the Film Improvisation Project to work on this method of directing and apply it to future projects.
Check it out athttp://www.thefilmimprovisationproject.org.uk/
We also caught up with film maker Rahul Gandotra, whose very ambitious and beautifully shot The Road Home has already been rewarded at Palm Springs and was an Oscar nominee.
Is there an autobiographical element to The Road Home?
There is, the film deals with the young boy’s journey. I have moved around a lot. I was born in Belfast, lived there for a few years before moving to Saudi Arabia for 3 years, then I left for Northern India and then for the States, with a stop in Prague. I am currently living in London.
How did you get into film making?
I got into film making in my mid twenties. I was a tennis player but had to change paths due to an injury. I went into business consultancy. I was increasingly interested in films and did an MA at the London Film School, during which I began to work on my short.
How did you get onto the short?
I was aware I had to make a graduate film and one of my teacher suggested I start out with a slightly autobiographical film about my time at boarding school. Another teacher suggested a feature but soon enough the logistics spiralled out of control. So I settled for short and even that took months to put together.
How did you go about making it?
I already had some experience but few contacts and started posting on the web for potential collaborators. One crazy soul was up for it. In 2007, I went on a research trip to India. It would actually have been cheaper on many levels to film in London. For one, a lot of people would have agreed to take part for very little money whereas for insurance purposes I had to find the money to pay all the participants in India. We shot it in 2008 and the film was officially completed in february 2010.
What happened then?
The short was nominated and won the student jury award at Palm Springs, it was shortlisted for the Baftas and went to the Chicago Children’s International Film Festival, which acted as a qualifyier for the Oscars. The short also acts as a trailer or calling card for the upcoming feature and it got me an agent.
More info on Rahul’s film at http://www.nomadosphere.com/nomadosphere/cRoadHome.html
If you would like to get in touch with any of the producers and directors above drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org