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I suppose it is very likely that more people will have read your book than
have ever managed to see a screening of one of your films. Do you prefer
reputations as filmmakers, or as authors on the process?

GJ - I know I want to make movies and Chris is the same. I think it's ironic
that we're more successful as authors about the disasters and pitfalls of
film making rather than being successful movie makers!
CJ - The book was just a knee jerk reaction to what had happened to us and
it grew from there. It's fine to have the success though, I just gave George
Lucas a copy when I was on the Star Wars 2 set. Felt better than giving him
a grubby screenplay!In your introduction to the first edition you described the road the filmmaker takes as "rocky, bizarre and unpredictable."

That was in July 1996. Exactly five years on, what does that road feel like now?
GJ - Exactly the same. Very very rocky, extremely bizarre and totally
unpredicatable!!! It feels like a very long struggle and you often wish you
could have chosen a different career if it wasn't for the fact that you just
couldn't do anything else, not that you're incapable but because you're
obsessed with movie making! I think it's a curse but will hopefully one day
turn into a blessing.

What, Chris, in the last year, would you describe as having been "rocky" for you?
CJ - Staying alive is the hardest thing and I hope that in the next few
years something will happen that will set us both up so that we can afford
to develop projects over a number of years instead of always fighting to put
food on the table.

And Genevieve, what in the last twelve months has seemed to you, "bizarre."
GJ - Bizarre. Definitely for having become more known for writing our book
that catalogues our disasters than for receiving that Oscar!!! It still astounds me today that the book has become so successful and here we are doing a US edition for the US market. I still find it bizarre that I can make a living - well attempt to - at doing something that is a great passion of mine. I find it bizarre when we bump into Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and can only say Hi! - bizarre that I'm sitting here now in LA hoping to try out for the Jerry Bruckheimer's softball girls''s all very strange.

And what have you both found unpredictable, something of a surprise?
GJ - Again all the things I have mentioned. Not knowing how people will take to your movie in the theatres and getting great reviews, you always hope for it but still when it comes, it's a surprise!!! I think being English we expect everyone to be negative and in our experience in the film making business has been exactly so since we started in the business. A big surprise to be nominated up there at the British independent Film Awards alongside films such as Elizabeth, Nil by Mouth etc.

The way you formatted the book, keeping it very visual, must have required some very detailed planning to accommodate everything. How does publishing compare with filmmaking?
GJ - Chris is the brilliant one who does the layout - so over to you Chris.
The only thing I have to say is that we've made money out of the publishing
business and yet have to do so in the film making business.
CJ - I am on the whole quite stupid and like books with pictures, so from
day one I said every page must have a picture to break it up, or the text will just get too dense. I also wanted it to be as accessible as possible and flow charts, pictures and diagrams help. Publishing and films are very different, but they are both huge projects that take months and years to produce. The nice thing about a book though is that it stays on the shelf MUCH longer and penetrates much deeper.

Since you originally published The Guerilla Film Maker's Handbook, even the second edition, there's a whole new area of digital post-production that has sprung up. Can we expect an update - a Digital GFMH perhaps?
CJ - It's in the works.

Have you done any work with digital filmmaking?
CJ - I have done some tests and I think its great but I have reservations as
people are still using it likes it's a cheap version of film, which it isn't. On the big screen I think it's pretty tedious too, but if it’s the only way you can get your movie made, go for it!

Masterclasses in guerrilla filmmaking are another field you have expanded into Chris.
Yes, it's a way I can put food on the table and help new filmmakers. So far
several have made their movies and I always get dragged in to help them out,
I guess it's a kind of after sales service! But seriously, the course is kind of ten years experience crammed into two days. Most people leave the course high as a kite and ready to do it. And it's not just happy clappy stuff, in fact its the opposite of that, it's VERY down to earth, but be calling a spade a spade, most people can see just how easily they could make their debut feature film.

Is a weekend course enough of a filmmaking education to then go out and do it?
Yes, I think it is because you only really learn when you are on set and in
the cutting room, so a course is like a lubricant, it gets you where you are
going that bit faster and hopefully a little more prepared. But you just can't
teach some things, you just have to go out and make your own mistakes. If
you have been on the course you will probably still make the mistakes but
you will have been warned and be armed with a tried and tested fix.

And Genevieve, do you have a role in the masterclasses?
GJ - I started them up with Chris but it's a little difficult now that I live in LA. I haven't pushed them as yet over here but will be doing the odd one in Australia.

You both elected to drop out of film school. That was a frustration at the time, was it?
GJ - Best decision that we made. The film school at that time would have
been a slow arduous process and they weren't willing for us to get a feature
off the ground. Within 6 months of leaving the school we were shooting our
first feature film and we got far more out of that than we would have ever
got in the three years that we could have been at the school.

If someone came to you saying "I've got this screenplay and I really want to make this as a guerrilla-style low budget film, but I have just been offered a place on a 3-year media production degree course, what should I do?" ... what would your advice to them be?
GJ - Go out and make the movie and go on the course! Do both - there are no

Your film capital has all been raised privately, but we now have The Film
Council and various schemes that allow some public funding to come into filmmaking. Do you see that as a change for good, or does that make things too easy for the next wave of filmmakers coming along?

GJ - Money into film making. That's always positive. One of the reasons we
wrote The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook was because film makers were keeping the information to themselves and not getting it out there - we felt it was our mission to inform other film makers with the information at hand to help them make their movies. Hopefully with more money, the right screenplays will be chosen and more films will be made. I feel that Britain has been living in a plethora of National Lottery low budget films that just don't
make it as a film that people want to see. Hopefully The Film Council will
be backing more commercial intelligent films, not just art films, that will
get out there.

Looking at Living Spirit's production history, it seems making the films was
the easy bit. The marketing end is where things have gone pear-shaped, like
turning down a distribution deal for White Angel from Rank in favour of
-well, not a lot of anything really.

Hindsight's wonderful isn't it? Is this an area where filmmakers need strengthening?
GJ - Definitely. On all three films we've made we've been ripped off in the
Distribution side. The big problem is that you can't do everything. Once
you've made your movie, you don't have much of a choice, you either choose
somebody out there who's naturally going to rip you off or you do it yourself and go it alone and will then spend a couple of years going to the markets builing up the contacts etc. I hear people say well the distributor take risks etc. , well they get their money upfront to pay off their expenses plus their commission. The producers are always the last ones to get the cash if any is left at all. There needs to be some honest distributors out there and I fear that there aren't that many. Luckily we've now got out of the hell of a sales agent with Urban Ghost Story and will give it to somebody who we feel we can trust. However track record of choice of distributors hasn't been too good in the past. I just wish there were more honest distributors out there.

It is very hard to get decent exposure for features in cinemas when there's no enormous publicity and advertising budget. What is your opinion on this? Do we need to find better or alternative ways to market our products, or is it just case of throwing bucketloads of cash to create a demand?
GJ - Bucket loads of cash to create the demand always works. All the time.
However there are things you can do with the internet that can help. Look at
the guys who did Blair Witch - that film was made on its internet marketing.
There are several film makers who've made short films on crazy subjects such as George Lucas in Love, a ten minute short that you can see on the internet which caused such a buzz these guys now have a feature film deal. Talking in chat rooms and creating a buzz is always a good thing. And make sure you have a good website where you can view your movies, or clips - the US is now more or less constantly on DSL so it's very easy to tap in to the screen of some big movie exec if you create enough buzz.

And where from here goes Living Spirit? There's been talk of an LA office
opening up and you also advertise post-production facilities in Ealing. How do you see the company developing in future...?

GJ - There already is an LA office. I'm now based out here. The US edition
of the book is now being written and both Chris and I have our films that are going to be shot next year. Chris is managing the post facilities at the Studios in Ealing along with the masterclasses. We hope to see Living Spirit up there making some big movies as well as a few independents that count.

Check out James MacGregor's review of The Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook

Visit the Living Spirit Website -

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