Sunday, 6 May 2012

MovieBar - 30th April Q&As

A few of the filmmakers who were unable to attend last Monday were kind enough to answer some questions about their films. First up is Andreas Beltzer, director of First Date...


How did the film come about?


The script came about from a dream where I remember feeling attracted to someone in the middle of something dangerous... only recall that feeling and wrote it from there. Then it was the usual lengthy process of gathering a team of friends and professionals to get it done.


Where did you find the office building location and were there any difficulties filming there?


Found the building through online location agents 'Salt'. A largely abandoned office building in North London. It was a joy filming as we had full access to two complete floors without any disturbance whatsoever. We were free to do what we wanted.  




The actors were fantastic - how did you find them?
The male leads are good friends of mine, having worked on several occasions with Kirk who played Johnny. I found Emma from involvement I've had with The Factory - a theatre group based here in London.


How long did the shoot take, and how long was post-production?


We shot it over two 12 hour days and post took around 5 months(this time could have been greatly reduced but most of the budget had gone on production and paying crew).


What are you working on next?


First Date is going to Cannes for a screening at the Palais and then off on the short film circuit. Next project is a feature set in Sweden currently in development.


Next director Lynsey Miller talks about her film Bleach...


How did the film come about?

The producer, Craig Heathcote and I had worked on a short together previously, HIP HIP HOORAY, and decided to do one more before embarking on separate projects.  I wrote BLEACH and then we set about making it, as we self funded we had no one to answer to but it did mean working to a minuscule budget.   Location wise, Rebecca’s house belongs to the parent’s of a friend and Rebecca’s office is the office of my flatmate so we managed to avoid location fees.  All of the cast and crew worked for free and so most of our shoot budget went on catering and travel expenses.
 

The performances were really impressive - how did you find the actors and did you spend much time rehearsing?

Our casting director, Kharmel Cochrane and I sat down and drew up lists of who we would like for each role then went out to cast.  We were hugely fortunate with the level of cast we attached, especially as they were all working for free.  Raquel Cassidy (Rebecca), was only attached a couple of days before shoot so we had a phone conversation then I had a half day rehearsal with Raquel and Haruka Abe (Li).   I was a big fan of Ruth Negga (Anne) so it was fantastic to have her come on board and Skye Bennett (Francesca) was brilliant, she has a huge future ahead of her.  All of our cast were really lovely to work with and there were no egos involved.




How did you find your crew, and were any of them people you had worked with before?

Most of them were people we had worked with before or who had come recommended through other people we had previously worked with.  Both Craig and I have been working in the film industry for the last five years, I work in production at Ruby Films while Craig is a post-production coordinator, so we were able to draw upon our list of contacts.


How long did the shoot take, and how long was post-production?

The shoot was scheduled for 3 days but technical difficulties on the first day meant we lost around 7 hours of shooting time.  But we had a great 1st AD and so we were able to do a quick re-write, taking out scenes and then re-scheduling what we had in order to complete on time.  Post-Production took around 10 months to complete largely as we were pulling favours for everything.


Were there any particularly difficult moments, or anything you will do differently next time?

This was Raquel’s first project after having twins so we had two babies on set who needed a lot of feeding, that’s definitely a scheduling issue I’d try and avoid in the future!  We lost the cat that we had lined up at the last minute and our focus puller graciously offered to bring in his cat who turned out to be rather camera shy, getting stuck under the bath before running up the chimney, only to be dragged down by Skye who emerged with her costume covered in soot.  In the end we cut the cat from all but one scene although Skye still left covered in scratches.  The biggest problem was our camera issues, which delayed the shooting.  As ever the biggest challenge is the lack of budget but that’s also part of the fun and adds to the sense of achievement when you manage to pull something together that defies all the obstacles.


What are you working on next?

Since BLEACH I’ve written and directed another short film PAPER MOUNTAINS and directed a half hour film for Channel 4's Coming Up scheme called COLOUR, written by Vivienne Franzmann, which will screen in the summer.   I’m currently working on a documentary about the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).


Finally here's Kal Bonner, director of Under a Vest...


How did the film come about?


One of my favourite destinations in the world is a bar and I can be frequently found in them. On one such occasion, the owner of my local (having loved my first film) offered £1000 to make the second one. This was good news, particularly as I’d already written the script which was inspired by police shenanigans hiding behind phone hacking and the plethora of wealthy eejits hiding behind super injunctions. The lampooning of hypocrisy is always high on my agenda.

How did you achieve the look of the film? Did you storyboard any of the sequences?

I adore black and white films, the moody feel of film noir and of course the wonderful Hitchcock – so the look was always going to be based on all of those things. I decided to mix black and white with colour to give the film a contemporary twist, so we didn’t end up with a simple pastiche and we spent a lot of time lighting the set to capture shadows and glints and achieve that all round sleazy sensation. I was also really lucky that friends let me use their beautiful house, which was in keeping with the period I was trying to emulate. I always storyboard everything, which is really important when time and money is at a premium. I can’t draw, so the storyboard also gives the crew a good laugh at my expense, which I’m getting used to now, but despite my feeble stickmen standing on one leg, it seems to have the desired effect.




How did you get Huey Morgan involved in the project?


Again luck plays a part! I know Huey and knew his voice would be perfect for the opening lines, so I asked him if he could help out. He was totally brilliant and after reading the script said he would. Apart from the great voice he has a top sense of humour and he grabbed the irony in the part straight off.

How long did the shoot take, and how long was post-production?
The shoot took two days and post-production about four weeks. Can I just say that our lead actor, Ian DeGruchy, was amazing. His mum was very ill during filming and yet he stuck with us, never complained when things took a little longer than they should and gave a fabulous performance. Things like that make getting the film finished and out there really worthwhile.
Were there any particularly difficult moments, or anything you will do differently next time?

There are always difficult moments in film making and sadly when budgets are tight that’s usually caused by people you thought you could rely on letting you down – but the people that really mattered didn’t so it’s best not to dwell on the poor judgement of others, it just gives you wrinkles and grey hair. I don’t know what I’d do differently next time - I’ll probably do everything differently next time.

What are you working on next?


I’m in post-production with the third short film The Optimist. I’ve also finished the script for the fourth film, and we’ve already started to get that into shape. I’m also in the final stages of a pilot for a sitcom, a feature script and another book. Thankfully, in between that lot I will find time to drink gin at a favourite destination and toast independent film makers everywhere.


Thanks to everyone who came along last Monday, and thanks again to the filmmakers for letting us screen their work and taking the time to talk about them.


The next MovieBar will take place on Monday the 4th of June. Check back here for further details, sign up to our mailing list on the top right of this page, or join our Facebook group for updates.

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