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netribution > features > interview with ruby red films > page two
Where was it shot?
TV - We shot it in Derbyshire.
BH - Mainly because a lot of Thomas' family come from that area so we knew it and I was really looking for a sort of small, grey looking village.

How did the villagers receive you?
BH - Mixed. It’s a very rural area so the very idea of a film crew coming in was disliked.

TV - As a producer, a countryside setting appealed because one really only sees urban shorts. Its obviously a gross generalisation but they are usually about young people with normal jobs and they tend to be set in houses. This film had a lot of exteriors, a lot of extras and I hope that's what makes it stand out, and Bridget gave it a very distinctive look as well.

How close is the film to the original myth?
BH - Not very close, the Pied Piper is a woman, its about the men in the village fancy her and their wives getting jealous. She doesn't come from anywhere in particular but turns up as a pest exterminator, she comes in her white van and ends up taking revenge on the inhabitants.

TV - It's very close to the original except its about sex!
How did you approach Mark Little and Emilia Fox for the project?
BH - We found their agents through Spotlight. If you know who you are looking for you just phone and ask for the number. They really liked it and we've found that established actors will invariably accept work on a film if they really like the script, regardless of budget.

So you just paid for their accommodation and travel?
BH - Yeah, lovely accommodation over there, nice part of the country.

What are your cinematic influences?
BH - Powell and Pressburger, I like rich, dark colours.

What would you change or add to the film given a larger budget?
BH - I'd have more time with the actors.

TV - With shorts you can always use more time, more shots and more of everything really. What's really nice is to come out with a film that's a good watch and that we've been able to submit to festivals.

Which festivals?
TV - Toronto short film festival and at London short, it was very well received and I was working in Toronto at the time and to watch it with an audience who hadn't been briefed was really important. To hear people laugh at all the points where, how ever long ago, you'd be slaving over a script you'd intended them to laugh.

BH - It's funny what people laugh at, it's rarely the big jokes that set them off - it's quite nice to see people have a different perspective on things.
How did you crew the film?
TV - Well the great thing about the crew was that they all had good jobs in the industry and wanted to move on to a different level, they all knew what they were doing rather than them being people starting out. Obviously we had runners and 3rd AD's that were starting out and they got the experience of what it was like to work on, what was effectively, a professional film set. When you list the films that the crew had worked on, every successful British film of the last 10 years somebody on our set had worked on them and everyone was getting to learn things under the pressures of a professional set.

How do you convince them that it's a serious project that's worth their time?
TV - I don't know, I think you just talk to people. One thing I've always tried to do with my the company, including simply writing a letter, is done properly - it sounds ridiculous but even using headed note paper makes a difference.

BH - The actors will always ask a lot of questions to make sure you really know what you are doing, they were really quite brutal about what they were and what they weren't willing to accept. It's a vulnerable situation for them - disregarding the rats!

How many were there?
BH - We had 40 rats controlled by an animal handler, rats are very clever - he'd just place them on the ground and direct them. For example, in one scene he put the cage at one end of a bridge, placed food at the other end and they just did what we wanted them to do. They aren't secure outside their cage they need it.

TV - People ask why they don't just run away, they want completely the opposite.

BH - The handler was very fussy about what hours they could work, he loved them and was very careful about how people handled them, I was amazed at how he could recognise them.

What was the shoot like as a whole?
BH - It was a freezing shoot - middle of November and at the end the male actors had to jump in the river, it was absolutely freezing, so cold that we had to use some safety divers to gauge how long one could be in the river for. They said the actors would have about 3 minutes before they caught hypothermia!

Did you employ extras from the village?
TV - What we did was advertise for extras in all the local papers and audition them, basically - were they prepared to run into a river in November? We ended up with 10 men and 10 women, a real cross section of people who had time to spare in the week, there was no one who'd done it before.

Did you have any problems directing entirely unskilled extras?
BH - They didn't have to do a great deal of acting, a lot of running but not acting. It was nice, someone turned up with a dog, another with a kid in a pushchair and that worked well.

(Pointing to a production still) I recognise that chap.
BH - That's Paul Williamson, the Werther's Original bloke who was also THAT butler from the Ferrero Rocher adverts! That Ferrero classic! (laughter)

What are you planning now?
BH - 2 shorts in March - one's very short - and we've a feature in development with a really strong female lead but we can't tell you any more about that one.

How are you going about selling The Rat Trap
TV - WE actually had a sales agent before we made it but they went bankrupt a few months ago and we are now with Atom Films. We've had a few direct sales, a few came out of the Toronto screening - one Canadian and a US but we are hoping to get it picked up by an airline.
How flexible were Atom?
TV - They were OK with us because we'd already had some sales - we'd had it on Sky in the UK as well so they were actually quite willing to go a long way beyond their standard deal. And again theirs is quite different from most in that they give you a flat percentage of gross while they pay for all the expenses - the rate is worse but you end up better off.

What was the budget?
TV - £22,000.

How much have you made back?
TV - Not even close to that! Well…less than half, not too bad but what's more important is that it's been seen. Shorts are just attention seeking children, they want as much attention as they can get in a short period of time! The investors have invested in us and we were always honest that making a short was not about making money - it's nice that the Lottery have had some of their money back.


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