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netribution > features > interview with gavin emerson > page two

Clifford - How did you go about raising the money? That's what people here would like to know.
- I suppose Ratcatcher was a particular scenario, it was about building on the existing relationship we had with the BBC in that we were commissioned to make the short, Gasman for Tartan Shorts which is the equivalent of Brief Encounters or whatever its called now. It was off the back of that that we managed to get the BBC to put the money into Ratcatcher. It was quite fortunate that Andrea Calderwood, who was head of BBC Scotland, moved over to Pathé and was already interested in the project. Also it was all about building awareness, attending film festivals and societies and so on. There was a key player called Jim Wilson who was at Fox Searchlight at the time and is now at Channel 4, he'd seen the shorts when we met up at Edinburgh and after Gasman played we just got chatting. We ended up sending him the script despite the confidentiality agreement with the Beeb and Pathé and he was really enthusiastic about it and started showing it around Fox Searchlight who'd probably never have noticed otherwise. But he was great at raising that awareness, saying To Fox Searhlight that the BBC and Pathé had greenlighted it, which they hadn't at that point, and by getting involved in it he acted as the catalyst for Pathé to agree to finally commit to it. So my role really was the PR, you know, getting out there as a producer and raising awareness for the film.

Clifford - 2 part question. Is it important to make shorts before a feature? Secondly, Was it Lynne Ramsay's shorts that helped you raise the funds for the feature?
Gavin - Without doubt. You have to go through the Short process, you have to make mistakes so, at the very least, they give you the opportunity to fuck up and learn from it in order to make a feature. The more short films the better but when you think you've got something, build on it and think about future projects like feature length scripts or acquiring the rights for something. I say this because the chances are, once the short is finished you'll be in a really good position to go to someone with a feature script and to ask them what they think. In terms of raising finance, I don't think we'd have been able to raise the finance in Lynne hadn't done the shorts and of course it helped getting the Cannes Jury Prize but I believe we might have done if we hadn't won.

Clifford - The critical acclaim for Ratcatcher has been overwhelming. Has it been as successful commercially?
Gavin - That's an interesting one. We were really pleased with the acclaim which all started in Cannes but there was an element of the press wanting to discover someone new and that was when the unexpectedly good the publicity broke. So far the figures run at about 375,000 which is pretty good considering it has only been on 15 screens and even now we are getting 15,000 people a week on 3 or 4 screens. At the end of the day the press was an essential component but I still think there is a lot ot be said for getting out there and getting the press interested. On the shorts I went out, wrote to all the journalists and met as many as I could while I was in Cannes lobbying for Gasman, I'd take them out for drinks which is always something that helps.

Clifford - Is the film going to go the United States? That would make a tremendous difference to its financial success.
Gavin - North America is a tricky one. Its subtitled for that market but wasn't at Cannes which was a problem because, even now, I still find it difficult to understand, the dialogue is pretty heavy going for a lot of Americans although they recognised that it is a good, well executed film. So the offshoot of that problem is that we haven't had a huge amount of bids but it will be released, either by an outfit called Shooting Gallery or by Cowboy on the arthouse circuit. That's still brilliant obviously but its not going to get the release that, you know, will make me a millionaire!

Clifford - So have you made any money out of Ratcatcher?
- I made my production fee, a company fee of about £40,000 through my production company, Holy Cow but I'm not going to make any money out of the back end of it if that's what you mean.

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