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netribution > features > interview with figgis and mullan > page two
How are you going to get the shorts from the scheme shown? Will you use the Net?
Mullan - Well we are looking for a distributor to take them to international markets and we are hoping for them to be launched at Edinburgh next year, that's the kind of time scale we are looking at. Up to 2 or 3 years ago short films were purely calling cards for directors and actors to be shown at festivals. There is a new revolution now, I was led to believe that something like 80% of the short films at Sundance were bought and are now being shown on the Net.
Figgis - The thing is that the Net has come along and the next few years are gong to be very interesting, for the wrong reasons maybe but it doesn't matter. While the quality of Internet download limits films, unless you are a very sad person that has 2 days to download something, it is limited to a 5 or 10 minute film. That's a very large imposed rule to start off with, the quality is shit which means for once filmmakers will not be obsessing about anal reproduction of reality. Its almost a period of short impressionistic films thrust upon us, its really the best thing that could have happened to the industry. You have this vast international market, it's highly competitive and you have a venue for once. The reality before was that the best thing you could hope for was that my short film could get tagged onto my big brother's feature doing the rounds of film festivals. Looking back I remember the short film that made be want to be a filmmaker, I've only seen it once and I can remember practically every frame of it. Mullan - Who directed it?Figgis - A Frenchman, I don't remember, it was that distressful - but it was the thing that made me realise that film was a medium that could take you somewhere else. I hate feature length films in the sense that they have corrupted the poetic element of cinema and I think that short film's the poem. Now that's a pretentious statement. (laughter)Mullan - No, no Lynn Ramsey's films short films were like that, they were never narrative driven, they were poems and I don't care if its pretentious because they really work.

Do you think it's because of this poetic nature, or because of the Net that we are going back to shorts?
Mike - I'm doing something for the Net because...well the market place dictates where we go in the same way as the technical abilities of the medium at any given time dictates the style, we may think we are in control but, were not. Sony JVC and Panasonic are and once they come up with things like digital projectors we'll be going somewhere else with cinema. That is interesting for us artistically. Some of the shorts I've seen on Channel 4, they are starting to go in areas of corrupted imagery that's really interesting.Mullan - That's been the problem with short films up to now. New directors have been using them as calling cards and have been putting all their goodies into one bag, one exquisite love scene that works for what it is. Because they are so anxious to show all their tricks, they'll get the crane shot in and whizz bang cut to show that they can edit.Figgis - And out of a 10 minute film, 4 and a half minutes is the credit sequence. (laughter)Mullan - The approach to a short film should be the single off the album, the full album is the rest of your fucking life. I done 15 drafts for a 10 minute film, 15 drafts! You think that this is what'll happen in the future, someone will torture you, someone will tell you one thing and another will tell you something else and they do seriously think that they are educated. All you are doing is screwing up the single, the filmmaker's not happy and nor is the company. They bury it at 2am and your pals say, 'I thought you were going to be on the telly!' Its a miserable experience to make a film if people really really don't like it. It doesn't mater if its 2 minutes long or 2 hours long, if your mates tell you its shit its going to take a long time to get your confidence back. (laughter)

Figgis - The important thing is that the venue has changed and we are talking about something that is a viable, reasonably commercial endeavour.Mullan - Its going to challenge everything we know as narrative and poetry is the real key there but for every good one there'll be twenty crap ones, c'est la vie - it's the same in every medium.

Do you think film could become interactive?
Figgis - No because that option of 'how would you like this film to end?' is crap. Who the hell wants to buy something where you do the work? You want to buy something where the work has been done and where the interactive part of it is a way of show how multi levelled it is. The interactive thing will of course develop sideways in conjunction with computer technology, rival companies will develop specific software to work with DVD and that's what I'm doing with Time Code. A special way of creating an interactive DVD where you can do your own mix, the potential in that is pretty vast. What's interesting is that filmmakers will have to start becoming technicians as well.Mullan - Oh no! Don't say that! If I have to become technical I'm dead! (laughter)


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