Anil Rao: Editing Globally

anil1Filmmaking has been something of a roller coaster ride for Anil Rao, but when you have received writs from Warner Bros because you made your own award-winning Batman movie (for £300 from the Prince's Trust), had your graduation film described by Total Film magazine as 'British Cinema being in good hands' and have worked with Luc Besson and hung out with Quentin Tarantino, you can probably take anything in your stride. This is the story of the rise and rise of Shooter Anil Rao and how he came to edit "Half Life" and gained access to a completely new career experience as an international film editor and film music composer to sharpen up his own film-making goals, picking up a lot of tips and new experiences on the way.

In an extensive interview with James MacGregor, Anil Rao gives an insider guide to editing world cinema features, not only bridging cultures from Europe to Asia, but also editing dialogue in Tagalog, the language of Filipinos, of which he had no prior knowledge. That didn't stop the film ALA VERDE ALA POBRE from sweeping the board of Oscar equivalents in Manila, including a best editor award for himself. Anil went on to edit further features for the acclaimed Manila-based artist, director and producer Briccio Santos, all gaining local and then European endorsement at Rome. And it all kicked off with a notice on Shooting People's Filmmakers bulletin.

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Sally Potter: “The beginning of a new way of looking at film”

sally_potter"Anyone can be a filmmaker. What's really hard is to make a good, interesting film. A computer doesn't help you write a better novel; writing in a notebook longhand is just as good.

"So technology can't do the job for you, but it can make the medium more accessible to more people... Within a short time, I could get 30,000 people coming to my site, from countries where Rage doesn't have distribution, and they're talking to each other about the themes they relate to in it. That's something that's so new and extraordinary, really."

Orlando director Sally Potter's latest film, Rage, will be the first feature-length film to premiere on mobile phones. With an ensemble cast including Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, Diane Wiest, Jude Law and Steve Buscemi, the first of seven episodes of the film will be streamed on Monday on Babelgum's free mobile platform, across the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with a new episode of the film every day. The mobile launch will be closely followed by the DVD launch, an interactive satellite premiere across a number of UK cinemas (including the British Film Institute) and a live-stream on Justin.tv.

Phew. How can one film work in so many formats? Netribution asked Suchandrika Chakrabarti to meet up with Potter and find out.

"I've been thinking a lot about this idea of democratising filmmaking, and I'm not sure whether that's really the case. I've used the phrase myself, but democracy is about one person, one vote. It's about people having a voice. I'm not sure the goal is that every single person in the world should be making a film. There wouldn't be enough people to watch."

rage2Netribution: So how does the film work with the various methods of distribution? People are going to be watching it in very different media.

Potter: The film itself is a story that happens over seven days, so by its nature it divides into seven parts. As it's filmed in close-ups upon the actors' faces, it can work on a small scale, but also looks very beautiful up on the big screen. I think it does work at both ends of the visual scale. As it's a whodunnit, a murder mystery, it does keep you going into the next day and the next to find out how things unfold... each episode ends on a sort of cliffhanger.

People have the option to get the DVD later on, and there is also the premiere at the BFI, which is going out live on 40 screens across the country. There will be a Q&A after, and, for instance, Jude Law is going to be in New York, in his dressing room for Hamlet, and we're going to Skype him in.

Babelgum saw the film and really liked the idea of distributing it. This is one of their first feature films; it feels like the beginning of a new way of looking at films, and for people to access them easily and properly. Streaming technology is so much better these days.

N: Are you daunted by any of it?

P: It felt very much like leaping off a precipice. We didn't know where we would land. I've no idea how people are going to experience it - we're making it up as we go along. As people experience the film in different ways, it starts to morph, it's no longer a fixed entity - like the themes in the film itself. We're making the process and product be really reflective of each other, and the story itself reflective of how people can see it.

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Simon Pegg - How to Lose Friends and Alientate People

simon_pegg_1Fresh back from a whistle top promotional tour where he faced a grilling by hundreds of journalists, Simon Pegg stepped straight into his latest role – playing a celebrity obsessed magazine writer who has a terrible knack of upsetting everyone including the people he’s sent to interview. In How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, Pegg plays British hack Sidney Young who lands a highly coveted job on an upscale Manhattan based glossy called Sharps. But his dream of finding himself on the inside the glamorous world of premiers, parties and rubbing shoulders with beautiful starlets goes disastrously, hilariously wrong thanks to a series of spectacular gaffs.

“It was interesting because I started the film directly after doing a big block of press for Hot Fuzz so I had literally just been in contact with about 600 journalists,” says Pegg.

“So it was fascinating and funny and not as weird as you might think it was. I didn’t suddenly think ‘oh I’m on the other side of it now and now I understand them.’ I think journalists are individuals and I wouldn’t presume to say they are all the same.

How To Lose Friends And Alienate People is loosely based on British journalist Toby Young’s memoir of his time working on Vanity Fair magazine. But, as Pegg points out, although the book is the inspiration, the film is vastly different.

“The film is very much an adaptation of the book and I’m keen to stress that,” says Pegg. “The book doesn’t really lend itself to being a film in a sense, because it’s very anecdotal and it’s filled with huge tracts about philosophy and it’s very much a book and an enjoyable one, but in order to make it into a film Peter (Straughan, screenwriter) had to shape it as such so it is pretty different.”

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Roleplaying, Autism and Normality : Nic Balthazar on Ben X

"For me the film isn’t really about autism, it’s about what we do as a society to everyone who has a problem functioning and to all the people we call the nerds, the geeks and the dorks because they’re not what everyone else is. It’s the fascism of cool. The fascism of being ‘normal’."
Nic Balthazar

up-ben_x.jpgExploring the implications of virtual worlds, Nic Balthazar's Ben X has been seen by two thirds of Belgium's teens, and is seeking to change attitudes towards autism and bullying.

Ben, an Donnie Darko-esque teen living with his single mum, is bullied ferociously in the 'real' world. Behind his case-modded PC, a kind of 21st Century wardrobe to Narnia, he escapes to a fantasy polygon land where he rides a golden stallion and rescues a Sophian damsel, who becomes the virtual femme fatal (or not) of the piece. Although some of the characters seemed as flat as a 2D scroller, as perhaps the first realist drama to strip Web 2 bare in the cold hard glare of modern life and its cruelties, it's a timely film. Best of all, in exploring the territory of mental suffering in the face of 'normality', so often in cinema presented as something either hopefless (Pi) or dangerous (A Beautiful Mind), Ben X refreshingly finds alternatives.

Inspired by a true story, by way of a video game, novel and play, writer and director Balthazar explains the process behind the film with Billy Chainsaw below.

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Simon Rumley: Living with 'The Living and The Dead'

Simon Rumley is one of those UK filmmakers whose work never seems to get the recognition it deserved. His debut feature – the brilliantly crafted faux documentary Strong Language – showed his talent for sharp writing, creating compelling situations and making a lot out of a tiny budget. His follow up films The Truth Game and Club le Monde – which, with Strong Language, formed the 'youth trilogy' – confirmed his talent as a director and writer. Yet, as inventive and enjoyable as the films were, they still seemed to have trouble permeating the consciousness of the cinema going public. Thankfully, his latest film The Living and The Dead (which is reviewed on the resurrected Special Edition HERE ) didn’t just permeate their conscious: it skewered it and then slapped them around with its raw subject matter and brilliantly intense style. Laurence Boyce caught up with Rumley to talk about the film, which was released on DVD on May 12th,  and other projects.

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Alexander Snelling : Shoots feature in India for same cost as his short Denial

Tantric Tourists peers into the world of 'spiritual bling' and the 'mystic bourgeoise'

tantrictourists.jpgOne of the gala premieres at the East End Film Festival in London, is Alexander Snelling's first feature, Tantric Tourists (Friday 19th, Genesis cinema, 7.30). Shot on location in India for £10,000, the film cost as much to produce as Snelling's 35mm short Denial seven years ago (which we thought was really cheap at the time) and which also premiered at the Genesis. Looking back in Netribution's archives, our interview with Alexander - republished below - is as relevant today as then, and reveals a filmmaker whose skills of ingenuity and perseverence ensures his films gets made, whatever the budget or problems.

And the film looks fascinating - and potentially very funny - dabbling in the waters of other micro-budget British features such as The Truth to peer into the world of 'spiritual bling' and the 'mystic bourgeoise '.

 

NB - Tantric Tourists should not be confused with the acclaimed short film/doc/biopic of the same name on Current TV 

From James MacGregor's interview with Alexander in the Netribution archive :

Alexander snellingWhat's your own background as a filmmaker Alexander? From where did Denial spring?
I started as an online editor in London, eleven [18 now -ed] years ago and moved onto specialising in Henry/ Editbox in 1995. I have been working freelance in this capacity ever since. Henry is a non-linear editing and compositing tool used mainly for effects work with a lot of painting, colour-grading and graphics work involved. I have also directed and produced various TV projects over the years as well as working in theatre many years ago.

I have always wanted to make films and feel slightly sheepish to have taken this long to get my first off the ground - but, better late than never.

In 1999, my resolve changed and I realised that standing around in bars talking about making films and slagging off other people’s efforts was not going to get me anywhere, apart from further entrenched in my own bitterness. At this time, with many half-finished script ideas in my bottom-drawer, the story of Denial popped up and I realised this was the one to make. Two years later, I am in a position that I can actually be proud of.

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Menhaj Huda : Keeping it Real with Kidulthood

The distribution deal was done with Revolver but they wanted some minor cuts to the film, which I was unhappy about... They went ahead with it without ever discussing it with me directly."

cover_issue_4.jpgDirector Menhaj Huda is best known for his hit feature film Kidulthood (2006) which became a cult flick amongst teenagers across the UK and went on to win The Douglas Hickox Award at the British Independent Film Awards in 2006. As part of a series of articles on Netribution from Film and Festivals Magazine, Menhaj meets Editor Vicki Psarias and explains how he got to shoot Kidulthood on 35mm for under a million, what went on behind the scenes, and why he feels let down by the British film industry.

You're known best as the director for Kidulthood, but how did you start your career?

I never set out to be a director - I always wanted to be an editor and after university, that's where I started. I was working with music videos and I pitched an idea for a dance music show called Hypnosis to Channel 4, which they made into a series that I directed. I'd never been to film school so that was an education in itself. From that, I spent the following five years directing music videos, music shows and youth programmes.

What did you study at university? 

Engineering. I have a very technical mind so I love everything equipment wise and mechanical. Most crews are quite surprised by how much I know and understand about the technical side of filmmaking. Ultimately, they're all machines whether it's a camera or an edit suite and if you understand how machines work, you can cut corners and do things most people don't learn how to do. I've always been very confident about computers and once you have that knowledge, you can extend it and be very creative.

You work a lot with eminent cinematographer Brian Tufano, who shot Kidulthood. If you're very technical, does that ever cross into his area? 

It actually saves a lot of time as I can be very specific and say to Brian, ‘I want this particular lens' or ‘I want that shutter speed'. Other directors, however, come from different, more theatrical backgrounds or are speaking more artistically about what they want, and it's the DP's job to translate that into visuals. I know exactly what I want and how that can be done.

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Extraordinary Rendition: The opposite of documentary

http://www.renditionfilm.com/?p=200 Extraordinary Rendition, which first caught Netribution's attention ahead of its premiere at last year's Edinburgh festival, is due to be released on DVD on 28th April, and broadcast on the BBC in the same week.

Suchandrika Chakrabarti met up with director Jim Threapleton and producer Andy Noble, childhood friends turned filmmaking collaborators, to get an update on the improvised film's editing and innovative distribution, as well as to discover what "the opposite of documentary" means... 

How did it feel to be nominated for a British Independent Film Award last October? 

Andy: We were humbled to be in such exalted company really, the great and good of the British film industry. It was great to be recognised in that way.

Jim: The evening had the appropriate independent spirit, as opposed to the more formal Bafta enterprise.

Andy: I was quite relieved when we didn’t have to go up and collect anything – absolved me of the need to go up and say something coherent!

Jim: We were nominated for Best Achievement in Production, and it was a real achievement under the circumstances we did it.

 

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Back in 2000 : Hammer and Tongs on space and Vietnam movie plans

"There was a great bit in Eastenders when Ricky said, "we were goin' at it 'ammer 'n tongs!" so we pinched that and put it at the beginning of our showreel! "

I remember Tom Fogg coming back from the interview with Hammer and Tongs, a music video trio (then unknown to us) in 2000. He was both bitter and excited for they seemed just like us, except they'd focussed only on making films and had made 50. And what's more they had two features in the pipeline, a big 'space movie' they couldn't talk about, and a film set in the 80s with a bunch of kids interested in Vietnam films, a film, Tom was told, they wanted to make so they could get where Michel Gondry was. Sweet ironies.

Tell us about the movie.
N. - Well it will open with "A Hammer & Tongs Production", perhaps said by James Earl Jones but he's really expensive.

Well he did The Simpsons for free.
G. - Well everyone does them for free, they are under their agent's orders! (laughter)

N. - W are working on a couple of films at the moment and Garth is directing both of them. The first is a really big, exciting film set in Space in the near future and, as crap as it sounds, that's all we can say about it. We are developing it ourselves from a draft that we are pretty happy with but that's been going on for about three years. We went to America and our agent over there set us up with 6 meetings, really exciting but when we came home we just decided to carry on doing it our selves for the time being. After a while we were having lunch below our office and Garth has this incredible idea for a film, he pitched it to me and I thought, "Brilliant! Let's go to someone now and pitch it, do a development deal, stop doing videos and someone can pay us to focus on it." That's always been the problem, you've got to survive. We then pitched it to Jim Wilson and Paul Webster at Film Four, Jim's always been interested in music video directors, they both loved it and agreed to do a deal on the spot.

G. - We smiled for a solid week after that! (laughter)

N. - We are about to finish the fourth draft and it just needs tweaking. Its based on a group of 13 year old kids in the 1980's who discover the big Vietnam films and decide to make their own one. It's really exciting.

Has it got a working title yet and is it a comedy? Give me a scoop!
N. - We've got the wrong title so I can't tell you, because it's the wrong title! (laughter) It's a coming of age action adventure! (more laughter) From our videos, we tend to make quite accessible films and we want this to work on a few different levels, kids can go and watch it and enjoy it. We can't wait. Spike Jonze did, Being John Malkovich, which I loved and Michel Gondry is doing his Human Nature which is being edited now and is being produced by Jonze.

Who's work do you prefer?
N. - Both!

G. - On a technical level - Gondry; but for making us laugh, like, Sabotage, it would be Jonze's stuff. They are both great.

N. - I want to be where they are by making this film. We were at an awards ceremony where Garth won best director and Michel won best video for The Chemical Brothers which was the last award after Garth's. He went up on stage and said that he thought Hammer & Tongs work is really good. We met with Michel and Spike afterwards and talked and it was really, really nice.

G. - The nicest aspect of the work is that you get to meet your heroes, its not that they are particularly famous but for us it’s a real privilege.

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