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netribution > features > interview with jeremy wooding > page two

Moving on to Sari & Trainers, which I think is the most ambitious one, what made you want to shoot a Bollywood musical as a short?
Right, good question. This goes back to when I used to work for Camden Youth Office near Kings Cross ten years ago. I used to do some work with some Bengali kids in video and drama workshops and the only way to get in touch with shooting movies or action movies was to sit down and watch Bollywood movies and kung-fu movies with them. We'd then re-enact scenes from that, which they would shoot and act in as well. So that's how I got into Bollywood movies, it sort of got into me and I couldn't get it out of my system. And also I really like Indian music anyway.

And so by the time I tried to get a film off the ground shot on tape, through Camden Youth Office. It was a low budget, 50 minute film, a Romeo and Juliet story set in Kings Cross between two warring Asian gangs. There was a lot of Asian gang warfare at the time around there. A load of kids were really up for it and they wanted song and dance routines in it, and they wanted us to do fight scenes in it etc but Camden couldn't come up with any dosh, so that all sort of died.

The writer Neil thought I was totally barmy when I told him that. And I said well you know, we can make it work and I know the guy to do the soundtrack so we'll make it work. Steve's one of the only guys I know who can work in all kinds of areas of music. This is another conversation. Is it Armenian feature films Steve? (Albanian) Albanian Feature films but he has the best collection of Albanian music in London! (laughter)

What kind of time period was there between the three shorts?
That's always the problem isn't it? It takes about a year each one. Paris Brixton first of all; pre-production started end of '96, we shot it in November '96 and it was finished in May '97 and then I think we got a screening in front of Donnie Brasco at the Ritzy cinema for the whole month of May. A lot of people saw it because Donnie Brasco was pretty well visited as a feature. The only problem with that was that when they said yes to it, I had to find the money together to get a film print done because I'd only got a TV finish on it. Up to that point it had cost five grand to make, to get it onto a master tape format onto a digi beta master, and then making it into a feature into a cinema short with two prints cost another seven grand and that really broke the bank on it!

Would you do that again?

My advice on making prints, it's great status and it's great kudos to have people in the cinema, but unless someone gives you the money to do it then don't even go there. My estimation is that it's not worth it. I'd much rather just have the showcase on Sky or on FilmFour or Canal + or go to the film festivals.
It took about six months to finish the movie. Went out in May, and then lived quite a good film festivals life for about a year after that. Jane Balfour Films picked it up for sale. Out of its twelve grand budget about six grand back so far.

I mean it really suffered as well from being black and white because foreign buyers don't like black and white very much, which I found out sort of later although Channel Four really liked it. The shooting gallery acquired in November 97. What I was most proud of Paris Brixton was that in the Shooting Gallery it was in the top ten best, it was the only one that was independent out of those, all the others had funding.

The next break was sort of a year again then, while sort of writing Sari & Trainers and paying off the debts on Paris Brixton. And then I think we started shooting Sari a& Trainers for two grand and sort of blagged it from there, the same thing happened with Soul Patrol, I started shooting two weeks before pre-production, two weeks before I had two grand and I needed ten.
People tended to wait to see if you're actually really serious about making the film and when they do they go "Oh yeah, you're making a film - oh can I get involved?" and then it's kind of like "oh yeah, we're up and running." And that's the big jump to make in kind of like, this jump off a diving board and say yeah ok, we're going for it now. I mean Paris Brixton, we were going to shoot that on Hi8 and I got Laura Fraser involved in it and Ben Miles and I thought we should shoot it on 35mm! It just so happened that a friend of mine had worked on a short film by Oliver Parker and he said there was a whole bunch of 35mm neg left over and its all sitting in this room and nobody wants it - they're going to chuck it out. I said "well OK, give it to me." That's 13 rolls of black and white 35mm neg. And I just had all this black and white neg and I thought well I'd suppose I better get a camera now.

Its taken about a year every time and about six months in between, simply from paying the debts for the last one and get the next film rolling. So over four years, it's taken four years to do three shorts.

You have plans for a feature version of Sari & Trainers but what about after that? Are you just taking it one step at a time?
Well the thing that happens when you get an agent and they see you as a potential earning person for making features, they give you a lot of scripts to read. I've read about four slasher movies because Soul Patrol has a very commercial, thriller look and a nocturnal feel. I've read about four slasher movies and a couple of fight movies etc. But I don't want to make movies about cutting up women and that' s what they're all like. I still want to make movies about relationships and about lurve (laughter) and also once I've got this musical out of my system then I probably would still like to make a thriller as well.

I get inspired by genre movies and my own take of genre movies and each of these shorts are also me dealing with the genres. Me dealing with French New Wave, free wheeling street cinema in Paris Brixton, Bollywood musicals in Sari & Trainers and a vampire horror genre in Soul Patrol.

`For more information or to contact Jeremy Wooding visit the website:

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