SHORT SIGHTINGS // Big Mouth

Yet again the posts are coming in slow, but nevertheless still coming. Whilst browsing on the Rankin’s Hunger TV I came across a short that was so poignant and also significant of this Paralympic period we are in. So I had no choice but to write this post because it struck a chord with me strong that I had to share. Whilst being away from this blog I’ve been a busy bee producing videos about various events put on by the Mayor of London peeps, and I had the rare opportunity to enjoy from City Hall performances by a variety of ‘disabled’ artists. The quotations are because I believe it’s fair to say that people labelled this way are fully capable of doing many spectacular things that anybody else can do, especially with an impairment. On the night we had blues, classical, folk, Indian musicians grace us with their amazing talent. They showed us that creativity cannot be stopped by a disability. In the moment of experiencing their exceptional talents and hearing their stories I was inspired with idea for a script/film idea that I felt would be a good opportunity to show that there isn’t a need for separation. Talent is talent. End of! But then I came across this short film, Big Mouth, that does encapsulates the message I wanted to evoke in my potential film. That’s not to say I have given up on the idea.

Big Mouth was released in 2010 and was made in partnership with Collabor8te, another one of Rankin’s ventures. Collabor8te works with and supports new talent in getting their films made and also distributed beyond the festival circuit. Director Henry Darke was one of the lucky ones chosen for this opportunity and you can see his full interview here to find out more about his experience and the process he went through.

So Big Mouth is a coming of age tale about two deaf brothers with dissimilar personalities that have learnt to deal with their impairment in contrasting ways. It’s very rural, working class and emotional. I found myself willing for the brother that had lost touch with society to make sure that he got heard. It is a story that will not only resonate with people that have hearing impairments, but anyone that feels lost amongst others.

Full film is below. Tell me what you think. 

HOLDING HANDS WITH STRANGERS

Just a quick post to share my friend Rahma’s new film project to you all. Rahma is a film school graduate, and she recently had her graduate film Endearingly Mad screened at the BFI. She is now onto her next  short film and wishes to shoot it before the end of August. Very ambitious, but achievable. So she called me in to direct the shoot for her pitch campaign for Holding Hands With Strangers, which I was more than happy to do. Rahma even came out of her comfort zone (behind the camera) and did a little acting herself. She did have a little tipple to give her dutch courage, which is ironic as she is from the Netherlands, LOL. Okay not that funny.

But anyways check out her plee to the masses to help her make this film at sponsume.com/project/holding-hands-strangers

…And below is the pitch I directed.

SCREEN SOCIAL 12.07.12 @ THE BOOK CLUB

So this Thursday is the next instalment of Cannes in a Van monthly night Screen Social at the super cool venue The Book Club in  Shoreditch. Screen Social host a mash-up of Music and Film with an array of visual and sonic artists being part of this entertaining night.

On the night there will be live music from one of Liverpool’s hottests new bands, All We Are….

 

An enchanting performance from broken beats electronica artist ATLAS

 

And of course there will be short films and music videos screened from the leading production house Partizan and creative design studio Studio Moross, and just a whole lot of creative fun to wake up your senses.

For more information go to screensocial.com

AND… If you want to submit your short film and music video just go down with the Vimeo or Youtube link to the video. Easy as that. Gain exposure for your work with no submission fees to pay. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Click here to register for £2 tickets on the door.

2012 EAST END FILM FESTIVAL

So yet again I’ve been AWOL for just a minute too long off Developed Society, but I have good reason and I’m going to fill you all in on some of the things I have been getting involved with.

Working as a Freelance Production Assistant/Co-ordinator, I and most freelancers find that we will often have some downtime between projects, and that’s what the beginning of June was, my downtime. So rather than twiddling my thumbs I thought I should get more involved in more film type stuff. So where better to start than a film festival. Not only are film festivals a celebration of film, they are also the ideal place to connect with other passionate film lovers, makers, festival curators. So I decided to dismiss being a hermit, dwelling in my bedroom, watching endless films for a moment in life as an Event assistant/Photographer/Marketeer at this years East End Film Festival.

East End Film Festival Opening Night Gala

Why the East End Film Festival? Well firstly because Shoreditch, Whitechapel and the surrounding areas are conveniently a quick train ride away. And secondly it’s a London based festival I had heard of that is fairly popular, apart from the BFI London Film festival. And most importantly because they had a great line up, with tonnes of films I really wanted to see and great industry sessions with all the top dogs of the film world i.e. BAFTA, Shooting People, BFI, Four Corners, Film London and many others. My involvement along with many of the other volunteers started off with some good old distribution of programmes at stations including Liverpool street, where I was faced with city workers not willing to engage in a second of eye contact with you. But after some tactic tweaks programmes were flying out of my hand. And those of you that follow me on twitter I am certain that you would have noticed my shameless plugging of the the festival. Probably lost a follower or two due to my timeline takeover strategy. Meh. Then my role escalated to opening night event assistant. That involved sourcing a lot of bits with lo-to-no budget and calling in favours. So I have dipped my finger in most of the nooks and crans of organising a film festival.

The festival commenced with Sunday’s fringe event Cine-East. Cine-East was a full blown takeover of the east end, screening over 1000 films, in 100 venues, all for free. I was stationed at the super cool shoreditch venue The Book Club. At The Book Club we had Screen Social give us music and film concoction with loads of great performers, including Lee Clayden, who had a lovely rich voice. They also brought in Script Read East and they gave an animated reading of Kerry Barlows bookies based play Soft Ground.

Script Read East @ Screen Social

Industry Session Panel: Shooting People and others

My next sting during the festival was at the opening night, which was a loooooong but worthwhile day. Apart from doing many other tasks I was chief Root Brew bar lady. It smelled so good, fruity and gingery. We were also graced by the multi talented performer Lianne La Havas and her guitar. If you haven’t heard her subtly powerful vocals where have you been! Her voice filled the enchanting Saint Annes Church in Limehouse. And yesterday it was all going down at the Brickhouse. If you work or want to work in film there is no question that that was the place to be. Organisations, groups, filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers all filled the venue ready to soak up invaluable advice and knowledge through their ears. I go to my fair share of industry talks, conferences and so on, and I often get a lot out of them. But my advice is to keep going. You will always hear something new or even be reminded of previous advice. But mainly they’re a great place to meet people you could potentially collaborate with. Initially I try to shy away from networking and all that, but in this industry there really is no place for that. So I drank my gin and juice and gradually found my voice. For this session I was a self-designated photographer, which was fun practice of working with low light. But it also gave me the chance to listen in to all the sessions on the day. So I have compiled a top 10 film practitioners advice that was given by all the speakers. There were so many crucial tips and detailed information given, so I am going to give you the ones that stuck with me.

1. Don’t wait till you have a budget to start making films. They might not all be great and you might not want to show it to anyone, but is not in vain and is a process of learning and perfecting. With technology available to use in this day and age your film can be shot on an  cheap-ish DSLR camera or even an iPhone.

2. Vono.com was giving us the scoop on online distribution and utilising peer-to-peer file sharing and free online film databases to gain exposure for your film. His point was that some exposure and buzz is better than no exposure. Sitting around and hoping your film will be recognised by a festival and even beyond that can be a counter-productive route to take, especially when you can build a following online instantly. This is probably a good strategy for first time filmmakers, but is not for everyone.

3. Use your network around you. Colleagues, friends, family, rope them into helping you, even in a small way. Organise your contact list and nicely approach people that could be of help. Whether it is a camera you can borrow, props for the set or just even a tweet might be the key to your success.

4. Crowdsourcing. This is a great way to grow your budget for you film. Indiegogo and Kickstarter are the main ones for film, but you can try to think out of the box, and it might be just sending out emails to everyone in your inbox or adding a donate via paypal button to your website. Be thankful when people do donate and try not to waste their money. Usually one crowdsourcing site is fine. Don’t over expose or complicate it!

5. There is no room to shy away when promoting your film. Having a personable and charismatic nature will help when you are talking about your film to whoever. Being able to confidently speak at Q&A’s and most importantly pitches is key. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so practice. This is where friends and family will be useful.

6. Make sure your DVD works when sending it to festivals. It can be a costly error and they will not chase you for another copy.

7. Don’t spend all your budget on making your film. Once it’s made it needs to get out there. Festivals submissions and marketing are key. Although make sure you are sending it to the right festival. Cannes may not be the best festival for your short film. It could get lost amongst all the features.

8. This is a general one. Be nice to people on your way up, because you don’t know who’ll you meet on your way down, or along the line.

9. Filmmakers don’t get lost in film. There is a bigger world out there and this is where you find your stories.

10. Knowledge is key, just like in most cases. Read a lot, watch a lot, research a lot, do a lot, keep yourself busy. This will give you an advantage. And most importantly don’t give up, especially if you know you can do it. Plenty of rejection is inevitable, but success and good things will crop up from time to time and it’ll be all worth it.

Hope that has given you a sense of what was happening at the East End Film Festival and in my life right now.

The East End Film Festival is going on until Sunday, so make sure you get down to one of the venues to experience a festival with loads of eclectic films and a feel good energy.

Here are some more snapshots of the festival so far.

Filmmaker Jack Ayers spreading knowledge

Festival goer at The Opening Night Gala of East End Film Festival

Rookies Guide to Success Industry session at the East End Film Festival

Pick up a programme

WATCHED & RATED // Fast Girls

It only makes sense that with the Olympics coming to London this year that there is a film that marks the significance of this to London. And Fast Girls is one of the mainstream films that celebrate this. I had the chance to view Fast Girls at the BBC Radio 1 & 1 Xtra Hackney Academy, which was bustling with teenagers at 2pm. Which I find strange, as I’m pretty sure they are meant to be in school or college. The screening was hosted by Trevor Nelson and was followed by a Q&A with some of the cast and director Regan Hall.

Fast Girls lead character Shania Andrews is played by Being Human’s Lenora Crichlow. We see Shania, a feisty girl from the wrong side of town, qualify to be in the GB team to compete in the World Athletic Championships. Although she hasn’t got the support of her family behind her what she does have is Brian, a shopkeeper by day, her coach by night. Brian pushes her to take her chances at winning a gold medal in the Championships. When Shania starts training with the GB relay team she discovers she has an issue with working in a team. During the Q&A session Clarke did emphasise that this is the main theme they tried push out in the film. I would say, ‘isn’t it obvious to anybody that there will be situations where you will have to overcome difference with people you work with for the common gain of the team’. But I did then consider that this is a positive message for the teenage audiences that Fast Girls target.

Shania’s antagonist is not only herself but also rich girl Lisa temple, played by Lilly James (Wrath of the Titans). Lisa and Shania can’t seem to find common ground in the beginning. Firstly they are fiercely competitive over performance, as in who is the faster athlete. But then Shania finds that she has a jealous streak over the friendship Physiotherapist Carl (Bradley James) has with Lisa, because she has developed a crush on him.

Now I have broken it down, doesn’t it sound a bit fluffy? Fast girls has potential, but fails to deliver a strong punch. There are so many plot threads initiated, but never explored too deeply. We know she doesn’t have a mother, the coach can’t commit to helping her further, she has a crush on Carl, she hates working in a team; but what we don’t know is WHY. None of the issues including the rivalry with Lisa are explored beneath the surface, and this only left me feeling detached from the characters. And to add to it, Fast Girls was unquestionably a film that you know from the get-go that the Protagonist will come out on top. It does not leave much room for anticipation and guesswork by the audience.

Filmmaker/ Actor Noel Clarke (Kiddulthood, 54321, Dr Who) was commissioned to co-write this script. So admittedly I was expecting it to be a bit sloppy, conventional, not challenging any themes, only highlighting them, like in his past work. So although I can’t say in Fast Girls he challenged many themes, what Clarke did well was make the themes universal and resonate with people from various socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. It wasn’t just about the estate kids hustle, but instead about how we all hustle in our own little world.

I think Fast Girls install a sense of pride and anticipation in younger audiences, as they will be less cynical about the validity of the events taking place. During the last scene the screening was roaring with applause for the outcome, which somehow swept me up with it along the way. Maybe even a teardrop tried to rise from my eyes (it was probably a tear to represent my sadness about the second-rate films being pushed out to mainstream audiences).

Despite Fast Girls not being one of the most provocative films I have watched, I do feel that that was never the intention. It is a light-hearted drama, which intends to come across as a feel good film aimed at the youth. So I think it is fine to let it be that. But if you are looking for more thought-provoking films relating to the Olympics don’t miss out on the films being screened within the Fun and Games strand at the East End Film Festival. The festival takes place from 3rd – 8th July across various locations in East London, the home of the games. I will be there of course, so come join me in indulging in film after film, after film, and then some.

DS RATED: 6/10

Here are some snapshots of the Q&A Sessions and the trailer.

 

Fast Girls 
Production Year: 2012
Countries: UK
Cert: 12A
Runtime: 91 mins
Director: Regan Hall

WATCHED & RATED // Match Point

With Woody Allen you kind of know what you’re getting out of him, well in his recent work anyway; can’t say I have watched much of his earlier films. You know you’re being delivered a satire with various degrees of humour, à la Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona and You’ll Meet a Tall Dark StrangerSo I’m quite surprised that Allen has included Match Point in his six top favourite films of his own work (Source: imdb). Personally I feel Match Point is a very clumsy film, from the dialogue to the acting to the structure. It’s as if he had this amazing idea for the outcome of the film and the rest was just… filler.

Match Point is a Romantic Drama with a tinge of thriller, featuring Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Chris Wilton, a former tennis pro (Meyers) falls for a femme-fatal type, Nola Rice (Johansson) who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law Tom (Matthew Goode). He is groomed by his girlfriend’s (Tom’s sister Chloe) wealthy upper-middle class family and in due course marries her. Unluckily for Chris after his nuptials Tom, his now brother-in-law breaks-up with Nola, leaving him to pursue her, which then leads to a seedy affair. Nola is taking their relationship serious and insists Chris tells his wife the truth. Chris is in two minds and deals with the matter unexpectedly with a shotgun.

During the first hour of the film I couldn’t help cringing at the mechanical dialogue and the attempt to satire the upper-middle class, especially because I felt the actors weren’t acting and they conveniently felt right in their element. The beginning of the film weirdly felt as though a romance might strike up between Chris and Tom (Matthew Goode), his then client. Between Meyers lip pout-age, plus a soft feminine tone of voice, and Goode’s grooming him into his family circle, I really started to wonder what this is I’m watching. I wasn’t sure if it was bad acting, deplorably stereotypical characters, or the attempt to push this whole poor man in a rich world scenario that made two-thirds of the film blasé. And to add to it I truly believed that Nola Rice played by Johansson was a plausible character, which meant that Johansson was doing a good job and in fact better than all the other actors, including Meyers.  Now that I didn’t expect.

But as I said the film does take turn into a more sinister and more satirical direction; what I think Allen initially intended for this film. The protagonist that we emphasise with because of his boring marriage blah blah blah… turns into the cold-hearted antagonizer that uses a shotgun to end his problems.

In the end Match Point makes sense, well only if you a willing forgive the continuous errors. But the real issue is that audiences could easily lose interest in the forbidden love affair story that takes over two-thirds of the film, and switch off before the juicy humourous bit that comes in during the last 30 minutes.

Let’s just hope Allen can redeem himself (in my eyes of course) with his latest offering To Rome with Love. It does look funny and the casting is pretty amazing.

The trailer kind of reflects the awkwardness of the film.

Enjoy!

Rated: 6/10

Match Point 
Release Year: 2005
Countries: UK, Rest of the World
Cert: 12A
Runtime: 124 mins
Director: Woody Allen

CANNES 2012 // Marion Cotillard x Rust and Bone

One thing I like is when actors not from Hollywood, or the States for that matter don’t turn their back on cinema in their native country. So it was nice to see Marion Cotillard star in a french film that holds its own against other big hollywood-esque productions in the Competition category. Cotillard is cast in one of this years most anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises, but I fill that her role in Rust and Bone will be her stand out performance this year. I adore her, not because she is gorgeous, but I feel her performances have an understated intensity and she is really present in the scene at all times. In other words she is a brilliantly believable actress.

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os) will be screened today at Cannes and will be one of the many foreign language films being screened throughout the festival. Director Jacques Audiard has turned this princess and the pauper story into a modern-day tale about two people from different parts of life needing each other in the midst of their struggles. Ali and his son Sam are homeless, but eventually finds shelter in his sister’s garage and a job as a bouncer. On his trail he meets Stephanie, a self-assured killer whale trainer at her local Marineland. After a night of passion, she gets into an accident which causes her to lose her legs. Ali is still a stranger to her, but he helps her through her turmoil and she finds she’s depending on him.

Rust and Bone beautifully captures how people cope and struggle with their lost dreams and hopes.

I can’t wait to see this. I love romantic dramas with depth.

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