Writers

Suchandrika Chakrabarti

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It’s not often that you hear a director ask an actor, “Can we get a few grunts from you? Can you just get that grunting? Okay, now how about some heavy breathing? And where’s Zombie Number Two? We need you!” So begins a hectic day of filming a five-minute thriller for the Sci-Fi-London 48-hour Film Challenge.  

Director Vicki Psarias , who won last year’s 4Talent Best Filmmaker award, is asking actor Chris Rogers – playing “a strange man” – to re-record some sound. The planes flying overhead, the dismal weather and the lack of a sound monitor have made things a little more difficult than usual. The team only have a few more hours to shoot out in the forest by Barnes station in south-west London, as the next day will be devoted to editing.

Read more Making a Film in 48 hours - easy!

evil_dan_3  Dark Night, a feature film made by students on a tiny budget of just £5000, promises to be a “clever psychological thriller that unfolds a frightening story through the eyes of each character.” Judging by the screams of the girls sitting next to me, it certainly hits the spot, as the hapless characters are dispatched by a mysterious killer who lurks behind the camera until the very end.

Read more DARK NIGHT – HORROR ON A SHOESTRING
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Part horror movie, part critique of the American government’s stance on the environment since the 80s, Al Gore’s lecture on global warming is riveting, and, towards the end, unexpectedly optimistic. He has been aware of the dangers of the trend since his university tutor introduced the idea to his class – way back in the mid-60s. In the film, Gore expresses astonishment at the fact that so little has been done to curb the damage in the intervening years.

In fact, the effects of mass industrialisation and the excessive burning of fossil fuels are becoming harder to ignore. For instance, the 10 warmest years in history were in the last 14 years, with 2005 beating all of the years before it.

Read more An Inconvenient Truth: �We are entering a period of consequences.�

gsohcrogers.jpgChris Rogers found his latest role through a website. He signed up to Bethemoviestar.com , which he was sure was "a hoax, an absolute hoax." Luckily for him, it wasn't. A 30-second clip of his acting was all that was needed to bag him a role in a series of mobysodes called GSOH. It's also led to his first feature film role, in Rapture.

Suchandrika Chakrabarti met up with Chris in the BFI cafe to find out how he got from pantomime dame roles to feature films, while playing the odd Nazi along the way...

Read more Chris Rogers: From panto dames to internet auditions

namoi-watts Last night saw Naomi Watts interviewed for a Screentalk at the London Film Festival.

The discussion took in Mulholland Drive, Funny Games and Eastern Promises, as well as Naomi's background and her experiences of producing. Suchandrika Chakrabarti reports


Read more London Film Festival: Naomi Watts Screentalk

churchill puppetJackboots on Whitehall has been called the "British Team America," countless times for its use of puppets, but there's a lot more to the film than that.

It gives us an alternative World War II scenario, in which the Nazis managed to invade Britain. The debut writer/directors, brothers Ed (25) and Rory McHenry (22), have managed to entice an impressive array of stars into lending their voices to the film, including Ewan MacGregor, Rosamund Pike and Alan Cumming as a very camp Hitler.

The production is something of a family effort, as the brothers' dad, David McHenry is on production design (his credits include Love and Death on Long Island (1997) and Becoming Jane (2007) among much TV work), their two younger brothers Dom and Jack are helping with the puppets and mum, actress Maureen Bennett is often on set.

The movie is being shot at the Three Mills Studio in Bow, East London. When I visited the set last month, the crew were pretty busy blowing up Hadrian's Wall, the site of a spectacular battle between the Brits - led by MacGregor's Chris, a farmer with exceptionally large hands - and the Nazis, who are copying the invasion tactics of the Romans.

Producer Karl Richards gave us a tour of the set and workshops, before we got the chance to sit down with the McHenry brothers. The sets are full of background details that will reward close watching, as famous London streets get a German-style makeover, whereas Scotland is portrayed as a mysterious, tribal nation that provides the backdrop to a showdown with the Nazis.

Read more Behind the scenes: Jackboots on Whitehall


clare_richardsClare Richards won the prestigious Grierson documentary award for her directorial debut, Disabled and Looking for Love, on Friday 14 November. Even now the shock hasn’t worn off for her, as she said: “I’m feeling a bit calmer about it now. But it was wonderful to have been nominated.”

On the film’s subject, she said: “It’s about looking for a partner through the eyes of people who have disabilities to contend with.” Clare filmed her subjects speaking about forming relationships, as well as in social situations, where difficult truths were often revealed.

 

 

Read more Documentary award winner Clare Richards: We're all just human beings

sally_potter"Anyone can be a filmmaker. What's really hard is to make a good, interesting film. A computer doesn't help you write a better novel; writing in a notebook longhand is just as good.

"So technology can't do the job for you, but it can make the medium more accessible to more people... Within a short time, I could get 30,000 people coming to my site, from countries where Rage doesn't have distribution, and they're talking to each other about the themes they relate to in it. That's something that's so new and extraordinary, really."

Orlando director Sally Potter's latest film, Rage, will be the first feature-length film to premiere on mobile phones. With an ensemble cast including Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, Diane Wiest, Jude Law and Steve Buscemi, the first of seven episodes of the film will be streamed on Monday on Babelgum's free mobile platform, across the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with a new episode of the film every day. The mobile launch will be closely followed by the DVD launch, an interactive satellite premiere across a number of UK cinemas (including the British Film Institute) and a live-stream on Justin.tv.

Phew. How can one film work in so many formats? Netribution asked Suchandrika Chakrabarti to meet up with Potter and find out.

rage2Netribution: So how does the film work with the various methods of distribution? People are going to be watching it in very different media.

Potter: The film itself is a story that happens over seven days, so by its nature it divides into seven parts. As it's filmed in close-ups upon the actors' faces, it can work on a small scale, but also looks very beautiful up on the big screen. I think it does work at both ends of the visual scale. As it's a whodunnit, a murder mystery, it does keep you going into the next day and the next to find out how things unfold... each episode ends on a sort of cliffhanger.

People have the option to get the DVD later on, and there is also the premiere at the BFI, which is going out live on 40 screens across the country. There will be a Q&A after, and, for instance, Jude Law is going to be in New York, in his dressing room for Hamlet, and we're going to Skype him in.

Babelgum saw the film and really liked the idea of distributing it. This is one of their first feature films; it feels like the beginning of a new way of looking at films, and for people to access them easily and properly. Streaming technology is so much better these days.

N: Are you daunted by any of it?

P: It felt very much like leaping off a precipice. We didn't know where we would land. I've no idea how people are going to experience it - we're making it up as we go along. As people experience the film in different ways, it starts to morph, it's no longer a fixed entity - like the themes in the film itself. We're making the process and product be really reflective of each other, and the story itself reflective of how people can see it.

 

Read more Sally Potter: “The beginning of a new way of looking at film”

http://www.renditionfilm.com/?p=200 Extraordinary Rendition, which first caught Netribution's attention ahead of its premiere at last year's Edinburgh festival, is due to be released on DVD on 28th April, and broadcast on the BBC in the same week.

Suchandrika Chakrabarti met up with director Jim Threapleton and producer Andy Noble, childhood friends turned filmmaking collaborators, to get an update on the improvised film's editing and innovative distribution, as well as to discover what "the opposite of documentary" means... 

How did it feel to be nominated for a British Independent Film Award last October? 

Andy: We were humbled to be in such exalted company really, the great and good of the British film industry. It was great to be recognised in that way.

Jim: The evening had the appropriate independent spirit, as opposed to the more formal Bafta enterprise.

Andy: I was quite relieved when we didn’t have to go up and collect anything – absolved me of the need to go up and say something coherent!

Jim: We were nominated for Best Achievement in Production, and it was a real achievement under the circumstances we did it.

 

Read more Extraordinary Rendition: The opposite of documentary

Vicki Psarias from her myspace 27-year-old director, writer and magazine editor Vicki Psarias has been making films since she was 11 years old. With her TV-experienced dad, George Psarias , on hand as cameraman, she directed a film about litter on the streets of Leeds, where she grew up. As she says, "I was actually directing, which is quite freaky, because I was 10, 11, and I was saying to my dad, get a shot of that over there, quick! Look at this!" 

Vicki studied film at Goldsmiths, University of London, and her graduation film, 'Rifts', about two warring kebab shop owners, won a number of awards at film festivals, including Best Screenplay at the Portobello Film Festival. Her second short, Broken, was based on the story of her mother and grandmother, who are of Greek Cypriot background, and their experiences of moving to the UK in the 1960s. Vicki is also the editor of Film & Festivals Magazine .

Fresh from winning a 4Talent award for Best Filmmaker in late 2007, Vicki directed and shot trailer footage for the English National Opera . She is currently working on two scripts and a project for the Sci-Fi London 48-Hour Film Challenge. She found some time in her packed schedule to grab some caffeine at the ICA bar with Suchandrika Chakrabarti. 

Read more Vicki Psarias: "As a director, you're a mum, you're a dad, you're everything."

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Digital film studio Warp X want to address a specific problem: why don't many women direct horror? Suchandrika Chakrabarti finds out how DarkLight aims to encourage female directors to reinvent the horror genre for the 21st century.

 

Read more Warped Imaginations: Darklight's female horror directors

 Last night saw director Paul Greengrass receive The Variety UK Achievement in Film Award at an event held in conjunction with the London Film Festival. He was then interviewed by Variety magazine's Europe and Middle East correspondent, Ali Jaafar. The discussion ranged from Greengrass's interest in Northern Ireland to the process of making The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. Suchandrika Chakrabarti reports 

Read more London Film Festival: Paul Greengrass receives Variety award

Omar Berdouni as 'Zaafir' in street protest scene. Photo credit Joe Turp Extraordinary Rendition, which gets its British Gala showing at the Edinburgh film festival tonight (21st August) 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.

Read more Edinburgh 07 - Extraordinary Rendition - interview with director, actor & producer

Omar Berdouni as 'Zaafir' in street protest scene. Photo credit Joe Turp Rendition 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.

Read more RENDITION: 'INNOCENCE AND GUILT ARE ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE STATES'

dan111 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… 

Read more DARK NIGHT: INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTOR
 

The HawkHawk is an upcoming short film that was written, directed and produced entirely by twenty-somethings. Shot on location in Snowdonia, Wales, for a budget of £50,000, the 35-minute film follows the life of young Rowan, who retreats into a fantasy realm of Celtic folklore touching on ancient gods and paganism.

Read more Look Who's Hawking - Meet Welsh Mountain Short Makers Alias McMahon & Jones