Thursday, 8 March 2012

MovieBar - March Q&As...

A couple of the filmmakers couldn't make it along on Monday but were kind enough to answer some questions about their films...

Simon Kyle on 'After You Leave'

1) How did the film come about?

I'd written a bunch of different screenplays short and feature length, but got really frustrated when I was sending them out to different producers and directors. I guess I got tired of waiting for someone else to make my ideas into films. So I decided to have a go myself. I thought up a simple enough idea that I could film and edit. Got in touch with a friend to help with the filming and just went for it.

2) How long did it take?

It took three days.

3) Are there any particularly difficult moments you remember from the shoot?

There wasn't a script for it, I only wrote an outline. So coming up with an idea for how to end it was difficult. My first idea was totally different from how I finally decided to end it. The new idea even came from my cameraman Steven Rowe, I liked it and it turned out really well.

4) What element of the film are you most happy with?

I love the 'fishing' scene in the museum. I randomly came up with the idea when I was in there, but i'm really glad I did film it.

5) Did you have to get permission to film in any of the locations? (I'm thinking in paricular of the scene sitting with the mannequin in Hanley museum. You are a braver man than I am - that place used to terrify me!)

No, which is maybe the answer I shouldn't give. I did it 'guerilla' style I guess. I just really wanted to make a film, so I just picked up my camera and went out looking for things to film. But those mannequins did freak me out. But most of them were behind glass and I couldn't get access to them.

6) What are you working on next?

I've just finished a comedy short. 'Where are they now.'

It's something I'd love to make longer and bigger. So I guess I'm now just looking for funding to keep going.

You can check out more of Simon's work on his vimeo page.

Jon Rosling on 'The Secret' and 'Georgia's Angel'

1)    How did these films come about?

I had the story ideas and worked out a script quite quickly. “The Secret” was originally called New Boy and I had the idea whilst working in a school in Barnsley. “Georgia’s Angel” came about really through various other things I’d seen, mostly notably London To Brighton and It's a Wonderful Life, two vastly different films!

In one sense these films – like a lot of what I’ve been doing in recent years - have been something of a “development exercise” for me personally. As well as honing the storytelling and film-making skills it’s been about sourcing key people to work with repeatedly; building a professional team from that group; driving the production values higher and higher with each project. That has been as important a thing in making these as telling the story. It’s been about getting ourselves ready for that big leap …

2)    Despite having quite different storylines they seem to share themes of alienated teens and a supernatural influence. Do you see a connection between the films or was this coincidence?

Over the past 6 years I’ve been working on themes of individual alienation and isolation in my films, of people trying to discover who they are and what their place in the world is. The theme is a notion of self – what is it to be a person in this world? What if what we believed about ourselves and our own existence wasn’t actual reality? How could that be represented? How would it make itself known. It’s a theme recurrent in a lot of what I’ve done that really crystallised perfectly in “Land of Dreams” which I shot last year.

There’s a sprinkling of supernatural and magical realism worked in to reflect that sense of mystery with the world and the universe that I have.

3)    I thought the lead actors in both were great considering how young they are - how did you find them?

Steven Coward I had worked with several times before. He came to an audition for a film I made called “Waterfall” and was perfect in that as an out of sorts young lad who overcomes his own fears and saves the day. That uncomfortable feeling he conveys was just right for “The Secret” so while I was reluctant to cast him again really he was perfect for the part.

Sophie Platts we auditioned along with a number of other girls. She was far and away the best for the role – capable of vulnerability and also great emotiveness, great outbursts of anger. You wouldn’t think it if you met her in real life!

4)    The school and the station locations were really good too - did you have any trouble getting permission to film in either of them?

I have a background in education and had done some work at the school we used in “The Secret”. Securing that as a key location wasn’t practically difficult at all. Securing the location whilst we were filming was a challenge though as there was building work on-going at the time.

There is a sense in which school buildings are mysterious and strange. It has to do with those areas which were off limits when we were pupils: staff rooms, prep rooms, boiler house, cellars, attics and so on.It is also because those buildings deal with humanity en masse not individuals or family groups. (It is also why a school coach crash is a tragedy which has no real parallel outside the world of formal education.) The rooms, corridors and spaces feel alien. There is a sense most of us had as pupils, that it was somewhere to mark time between childhood and adulthood – a form of limbo.

We really did struggle to find a railway station. Network Rail were really unhelpful and put up a host of barriers to us using a working railway station. We ended up at Oakworth, which is on the Keighly and Worth Valley Heritage trail. It’s used frequently for filming, most notably in “The Railway Children”

5)    How long did the films take from pre-production to the finished version?

“The Secret” took about six months. “Georgia’s Angel” was much quicker, about two months. A lot of the systems and processes we developed as a film-making team on “The Secret” made the job quicker the next time round.

6)    Can you think of any particularly challenging moments, or anything that went better than you expected?

The shoot for “The Secret” went perfectly. In fact at the time it seemed to be going too well! It was down to the incredibly adept organisation of my producer Marianna Segenhout, who now works at 2AM Films.

“Georgia’s Angel” was a smooth shoot but challenging because so much of it was done at night and involved a fair bit of travelling.  For example, I drove down to Kidderminster from Sheffield to pick equipment up, and then drove back to pick up the actress before driving to Oakworth for a 12 hour shoot! I managed about two hours sleep before we were up and out filming on day two. To cap it all, it was a really cold snap when we filmed so we were working in temperatures of about -7’C at Oakworth and in Rotherham. The cold caused the Lithium batteries in the camera to stop working. We had to “re-energise” them using the make-up stylist’s hairdryer!

7)    What are you working on next?

Later this summer I’m directing a feature film which is currently titled “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday”. It’s about a 16 year old boy called Kasper who finds himself on the cusp of a different life following the death of his brother when a mysterious young woman arrives to teach him the meaning of courage and love.

We have Simon Moseley on board as executive producer which I’m really chuffed about. Simon has worked in the industry for years. He AD’d on “A Room With A View”, produced Kenneth Branagh’s film of “As You Like It” as well as “Sleuth” starring Michael Caine and Jude Law. He also won a BAFTA for his role as producer on the BBC series “Wallander” so you can imagine I’m pretty thrilled to have him on board.

Mhairi Calvey is also cast. She began her career in “Braveheart” in 1995 and has just finished a feature. She has a number of other roles coming up in 2012 too but has been on board and supportive of this since the summer last year.

In the immediate future, I have a short horror film next week for a colleague at Eye Films who is directing his first indie short. I’m also talking to an Edinburgh based crew about directing two of their films sometime soon. We’re also hoping to win funding from BFI Shorts 2012 scheme for a cracking little script I have optioned called “The Noose”.

2012 is going to be a big, key year for me as a director and film-maker. I’m delighted you’re able to screen my films and saddened I can’t be there to join you. I hope you enjoy the show!

You can find out more about Jon and his films on his blog

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