"Some films just make you really proud of UK filmmaking"
If you've ever staggered away from industry networking evenings with a pocket stuffed with cards wondering if any of the inspiring conversations will lead anywhere, read on. A couple of months after meeting at Screen South's New Talent Initative networking night, short filmmaker Jan Dunn and producer Elaine Wickham met up to discuss possible ideas for a microbudget feature as a calling card. Two months later they started principle photography on Gypo, with a cast that included Withnail & I's Paul McGann, and Father Tedd/Angela Ashes' Pauline McLynne, which lasted thirteen days. Just ten weeks after first meeting each other, their £50,000 film had wrapped.
As indie film success stories go it's remarkable. But the next stage makes it the stuff of legends. At the film's first industry screening in London it was picked up for UK distribution and international sales. The film premiered at Edinburgh in 2005 to massive acclaim, and went on to pick up the British Independent Film Award gong for outstanding production. Less than a year later and the UK's only certified Dogme film is set to hit British screens - not that Jan and Elaine have been twidling their thumbs since then - having subsequently wrapped a second feature with Bob Hoskins. Tom previously spoke with Jan after her first short Mary's Date, back in the rosy Peeping Toms days, so a catch up with the duo ahead of this weekend's release was long overdue...
Hopkins is the sort of person you invite to your grande bouffe at News
Years, when you've reserved places for one too many happy couples. Nic
met him at some festival or other last year [that's 2000 now - Nic] and
after hearing of his talent but having missed Simon Magus, he had a pop
at interviewing him anyway. Months after transcribing that half hour of
garbled crackling (and after evidence of an odd cult following) Ben
sends us an email trying to drum up publicity for his latest film The
Nine Lives of Tomas Katz without realising the connection. This is the
film that people love or hate, the director that many have derided at
cliquey parties whilst others claim he's the resurrection and the
light. Netribution's vote?
Genius. We keep watching it and we've
both agreed that this film, an enormous exotic main course with
tiredness and drugs on the side and a huge mint julep, is the most
daring and successful British film for a quarter of a century. Bold
words huh? Well the trade reviews are listed after the interview - just
to show you what 'the experts' thought - but they could never come
close to persuading or dissuading potential viewers accurately. It's
just one of those films that demands exhibition and gets piss all. This
isn't Bridget Jones or even a Lean epic, this is The Wicker Man and 2001
on £400,000. Please go and see this film. Go and hate it, walk out and
blame me or chew sodden blotter with your popcorn and have your wits
walk out instead.
"The desire for belief is a serious concern. It's an important theme here. Faith, the function of faith, and the meaning of belief, believing in belief, is a concern of ours. The mechanics of it, how does it work? An important American writer, Flannery O'Connor, has been an important influence on my creative life. I wrote a Cum Laude thesis on her at Harvard and I've read every word she wrote, two or three times, and when you mention the word belief or faith, I would offer her definition of it, which is: faith is that which you know to be true, whether you believe it or not."
tells the story of one innocent man who is caught up in the Orwellian
nightmare of being 'rendered'. He is abducted and detained, then
subjected to constant questioning. After that comes the torture. No
reasons are given, nor the right to answer any charges. The film was
shot for £20,000 and stars Andy 'Gollum / Kong' Serkis.
Suchandrika Chakrabarti speaks with writer/director Jim Threapleton,
lead actor Omar Berdouni and producer Andy Noble on the film's
inspiration, their on-set experiences and how they hope to add to the
current debate on anti-terrorist strategies.
Aneel Ahmad's film won the UNICEF award at Sheffield just one year ago. Now it has been shortlisted for one of the film world's most distinguished awards - the Grierson Award for documentary. This interview with Aneel Ahmad was made for Shootingpeople.org in July 2005. Having chosen to work in an extremely competitive industry where few British Pakistani people have so far made any headway, Aneel Ahmad perhaps faced more obstacles than most young filmmakers.
"One of the main reasons why I wanted to make the film is because the Civil War's still going on in America. There's still many people that want to hold onto the Confederacy as this great concept that had nothing to do with slavery. But if you honestly look at history, and you read books outside of battlefield books, you quickly find out that it was all about slavery. So that's the chief reason why I wanted to make the film, to finally give the history of America from this other point of view. The Confederate flag still flies over the State of Mississippi, over the State House. You still see it on a lot of people's cars and trucks. You still see Hollywood making movies that celebrate the Confederacy, in various ways, as a sad, lost cause. A great civilisation gone with the wind, as Gone with the Wind calls it. But from the slave point of view, there's nothing civilised about it. "
Daniel Grant, a
fourth-year archaeology student at University College London, has just seen the
premiere of his first feature film, Dark Night, which he wrote and
directed. It is the horrific tale of a house party gone terribly wrong, as the
guests find themselves stalked by a mystifying evil presence. Here, he gives
his view on the whole experience…