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netribution > features > interview with gavin emerson > page one
Gavin Emerson recently produced Lynne Ramsay's critically acclaimed debut feature, Ratcatcher. While the film is still on release, Peeping Tom's managed to persuade him to give an interview at the Arts Theatre Club in London's Frith St, a regular Q&A style, hosted by Clifford Thurlow that just goes from strength to strength. Gavin attended the Royal college of Art to do a production course and has since distributed, line produced and produced various shorts and documentaries and has set up a commercial photography company called Holy Cow Productions with exclusive clients including; Prada, Diet Coke, Armani, Patek Phillipe and Giorgio Perfumes. A list of Gavin's work in film follows the interview which took place on the 23rd February.

| by clifford thurlow |
| photos by nic wistreich|
| in london |

Clifford Thurlow - Gavin Emerson, you've been described as producing the best film of the year by Time Out. Did you feel that that was the case when producing this film?
Gavin Emerson - No, not at all. To give you a brief history of Ratcatcher, I met Lynne Ramsay at the graduation screenings at the NFTS in 1996 and saw Small Deaths. She graduated as a cinematographer and, I think for more political reasons, the school just wasn't pushing the film at all and it wasn't being sent to any festivals. She did it as part of the cinematography course but ended up directing it, I saw her film and thought it was absolutely astounding and revealed a unique talent. I went up to her afterwards and asked her if she wanted to work with me and gave her a small amount of money for a treatment for what turned out to be Ratcatcher. Really it was a 3 year process and we were very lucky to be given the opportunity to work with a £1.8 million budget but at the time we didn't have a clue what we were doing basically. It was Pathé and the BBC that gave us that opportunity, gave us the heads of department to make sure we were surrounded by people with enough experience to help us pull it off but it was a real leap into the void. To answer the question, we never really thought that it would gain the critical and relatively favourable commercial success that it did so when we started out it really was a case of just going for it and seeing what came out at the end.

Clifford - Was this your first film as a feature producer?
- Yes, i've line produced a documentary, produced 7 short films both at film school and afterwards and i've produced commercials for 5 years but it was my first feature film yeah.

Clifford - So what did you learn in that process, going from shorts to actually doing a feature?
- I think I was pretty naive to be honest. What I really believed in was Lynne's talent and the talents of the group of people around her and I knew that if we planned it carefully and were judicious about it, we'd end up making a feature. I learnt that the key issue about making a feature is that politics plays a huge part. I had to get constant approval from 3 executives, not just the basic costs and crewing but on everything, they were all supportive but I had to constantly communicate to them that they were all being treated equally well. I didn't handle that too well but i've since realised that that is a principle element of producing, whether it should be like that Is debatable but that was the reality. The other great thing I learnt from Ratcatcher is that it was always so possible. If you've got a good idea or a good short film planned properly it is so, so possible to get a feature made.

Clifford - So what now? Are you planning on doing another feature together?
- Lynne is currently developing a project titled Northern Corner by a Scottish writer called Alan Warner and the BBC have the rights to that but its being developed through Company Pictures, they had it before Ratcatcher started and I'm in negotiation with them about producing it. I don't think i'll do it because I 'd proposed a 50/50 deal which they don't seem too keen on at the moment but if I don't work on this i'm sure i'll work with her in the future.

Clifford - How did the script evolve, what process of development did it go through?
- It started off as series of disparate stories, there was no script when Lynne came to me and it was really a gradual process from there. Most of the stories were just anecdotes that she drew from her childhood which she developed until eventually a structure came together but, again, I just had to have complete faith in her ability and I was of very little help except to just support her through it. It really only came together a couple of months before the main shoot.

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