Free-ads - Forum News and columns Features & Interviews Film links Calendar dates for festivals Contact details Statistical Info Funding Info
site web
About Netribution Contact Netribution Search Netribution


interviews / reviews / how to / short shout / carnal cinema / film theory / whining & dining

netribution > features > interview with peeping toms > page two

Has that ethos been passed on from team to team?
Yes it has and its very important. Its what the club started doing, demystifying the filmmaking process and to educate and its always run through the vein of the club. Its unspoken, because its been running for 7 years people know what to expect and have heard about us. We do it, hopefully, in a non patronising way and despite it being structured its as informal as we can make it. We are just encouraging people to make films.

How far do you want to take Peeping Tom's?
We like it to grow but not too big because you start to lose touch with its roots. As far as we can and certainly get some funding. I'd like to get back to the term "Indie film". Its sometimes a euphemism for bad films and that's not what we try to encourage. Gavin Emerson for example joined the club about 2 years ago and then went off to make Ratcatcher. There are people in the club that are making it.Dawn - That's important to stress. We are quite selective with the films that we screen, very selective actually. Members come to us with films and say, "I'm a member, I want you to screen this." When we state that we need to see it first they are horrified. If its no good we won't screen it.Peter - There aren't many outlets to screen decent short films, we want to be the ones to do that and we are getting more and more selective with demand.Dawn - There's Celluloid Nights, the new festival in Clapham starting in July, Halloween, there's My Eyes My Eyes. Sometimes there are 15 events a week in Time Out and we just pray that they don't clash.Peter - London's big enough to take that and there will always be something to suit your niche. This is part of the remit, by not showing someone's film we are trying to say implicitly, "try to make a better one next time." There is no point in making rubbish films that no one wants to see unless its for practise.

How do you think you are qualified to make those decisions?
As a film goer for the last 25 years I know what a quality film looks like. A short shouldn't be any different to a feature apart from the length, it should have good production values and have a beginning, middle and an end. Good acting, a good script and well made is what's important and if one of those things is missing you know about it quickly. Dawn - Between the 7 of us in the group there is a huge amount of short film viewing that goes on. We love watching Film Four, we go to every festival and all the screenings in London that don't clash with ours and we are constantly networking with the directors. We also know our audience very well. For example, we showed a film recently that we didn't particularly like but which had won a lot of awards and that was the point of showing it. Everyone hated it but the whole point of screening it is, if a film like that can win awards then there's hope and get out there and do it.Peter - Its difficult to be original, one has to be more skilful to make a short because it has to be concentrated quality in 10 minutes. Take Lynn Ramsay, she made a series of great shorts followed by a great feature. Now not many people went to see it but it was widely critically acclaimed, those are the people that we are looking for.

What's the status of the club now?
Dawn - Its not really a club anymore because we have screenings, Q&A's, networking sessions and we'll have house productions so we'll need to find the right title for ourselves. We've been involved for over a year and a half now and took over last September from the previous team, we don't know who within the team can nurture and take PT's to the next level, we'll know when to step back and pass it on to the next one.Peter - Us and the other teams over the last 7 years have put so much work into this, we'd need someone who knows the history of the club, the ethics and the remit, someone who's going to devout all of their spare time to taking it forward.

Do you see that as a sacrifice in any way?
Dawn - It is a sacrifice getting phone calls at 9am from people wanting a runner or midnight on sundays you know!?Peter - That's one of the things we are trying to change, making this thing a bit more professional. An office would help, people would stop calling at odd hours of the day. The amazing thing is that the club is still going after 7 years without any funding, run by dedicated volunteers and continuously for that long. We take a break in the summer but everyone knows that.

There seems to be an energy passed on from team to team, its a little surprising that those transitions have been made without any hiccups.
Its a natural thing when you take over an organisation that you re-evaluate it and that's happening all the time with peeping Tom's. Where has it been, what's it doing now, where should it be taken?Dawn - We started the screenings at the Global café in March of last year and they've become really popular.Peter - The screenings used to take place at the Arts Theatre Club with a projector that we brought along with us, half the people couldn't see anything because the screen had to be put in the middle of the room. It got too popular

.Is there ever a fear that the audiences will drop off at any point?
Dawn - What happens at peeping Tom's is that people drift in and out of it. There are people who come every now and again but that you may not see for a year or two, they are off filming and that's the whole point. These people are amazed and really pleased that it is still going. The die hard members use it as a networking session and will come to every screening, the screenings and the Q&A attract quite different crowds.Peter - I think we need to concentrate on the Q&A's a bit more, we need to stress that its an educational element. Its not accredited but we get industry figures down from various organisations but also names like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. We get our members access to these people for an evening, they talk for 20 minutes and are then open for questions from the crowd. Its very rare to get that exposure to someone who's really made it in the industry, its great that they want to talk to new filmmakers and that's the beauty of PT's.Dawn - One of the best nights was with Freddie Francis about a year ago, before Straight Story came out, we had him for an hour in a small, intimate venue. We don't want to get bigger in that sense.Peter - That's what we have over Q&A's in the NFT for instance, the audience has been growing up watching their films and aren't afraid to pipe up with interesting questions because of the size of the place.

How do these figures respond to that intimacy?
Dawn - They love it actually. Its very informal with good interviewers and always good questions from the audience. They are quite impressed in that they think they are coming down to do a little talk but its very rare that they leave straight after the Q&A, the only time that happened was with Tim Bevan but I don't blame him. The queue was all the way down to Soho Square, (over a quarter of a mile) we were stressing about how we'd get them all in and of course we couldn't.Peter - I think that these people do it to stay in touch with the new generation of filmmakers and impart their knowledge and I think that they are always surprised by the quality of the questions asked and the depth of knowledge of the members. They leave thinking that the British film industry still has a great future.

Do you think it would aid the industry for the independent organisations like yourselves to collaborate and communicate a bit more?
Dawn - Absolutely, yesterday I had this meeting with 2 other organisations that will mean bringing together the 3 separate audiences to network together. There is no reason that it won't work. The NPA want us to join them in lobbying parliament for training improvements, particularly producers and we are constantly screening shorts acquired by The Short Film Bureau and The First Film Foundation. I thinkwe are working towards a strong network of independent organisations.

Peeping Tom's Q&A's take place on Wednesday nights from 7:30pm at the Arts Theatre Club on Soho's Frith St. (just up and across from Bar Italia) and the monthly screenings at the Global cafe in Soho's Golden Square at similar times.

For info about Peeping Tom's events join their email list by sending an email:



Copyright © Netribution Ltd 1999-2002
searchhomeabout usprivacy policy