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Category: Interviews

Check out the latest Big Picture Film Club interviews.

Interviews

Daria Price Discusses Her Latest Documentary “Driven to Abstraction”

October 4, 2019
Director Daria Price

Are you familiar with the Ann Freedman case, the $80 million forgery scandal that shook the art world? No? Well, then you should check out Driven to Abstraction the first chance you get. We sat down with director Daria Price and talked about this incredibly fascinating case, her new documentary, the art world and Price’s her love for the film industry.

Liselotte Vanophem: Hi Daria, welcome at the Raindance Film Festival. How do you feel about your film being screened here at the lovely festival?

Daria Price (Director): It’s very hard to know at festivals whether people will come to see it or not. I know a certain amount of people who are coming. I tried to get the word out to everyone. It’s very hard to do that when living in New York. I was trying to get the word out to art galleries and to places of which I thought they would be interested in seeing this film. I hope some strangers will come as well. One of the composers of the film just flew in from Padua and I have a few other friends coming as well. One of the participants in the film is going to be there as well.

LV: How did you become aware of the Ann Freedman case?

DP: Well, I’ve read an article in the New York Times from Patricia, who becomes one of the main characters in the film. I’ve always followed art forgery cases. I wrote a screenplay many years ago. One of the characters was a restoration expert and the two others were painters of which one of them was a bit of a forger. I had done an enormous amount of research because of that and it was like I already knew a whole lot about forgery. My eyes always fell on articles regarding art forgery and so I started to read multiple of those.

I always clipped articles. Something that my whole family does. I thought the story of Ann Freedman became a crazier and crazier story but it was a very difficult story to figure out how you would get into it. There’s always that “is she guilty or not guilty?” question. More than that, it was such an embarrassment for people in the art world, including completely innocent people. That’s what’s interesting about this case. Whether they were consciously tricked or whether it was just a sort of conspiracy. I became more and more interested in it and the story didn’t make a whole lot of sense in some ways. Then you find out that it wasn’t only Knoedler but also more of esteemed art galleries.

LV: As you said, some people didn’t want to participate in this film. Who was the first person you contacted that said yes to this?

DP: I’ve already been collecting for a couple of years articles about this case and then I started to do my own research so I could find out everything about it. Any filmmaker I knew said, “Do not make this film. It’s a great and fascinating story but you just can’t make it because everyone is going to run away if this would be true“. I went to speak with Patricia from the New York Times, who dug into the story and knew a lot about it, and when she agreed to participate that’s when I went “Ok, I should make this”. At least, it meant that I had a way in.

LV: In this film, we also see Ann Freedman’s attorney. How was he?

DP: It took a long time to get him. It wasn’t like he said not but he just wasn’t available. He’s a very busy and successful lawyer. When I interviewed with him, he became the spokesman of that side of the story. I think he did a very good job. Lawyers tell the story that they want the world to believe. Many things didn’t end up in the film. We could have easily made another film about how an attorney can spin a story. He did have an answer for everything.

Filmmaker, Daria Price (source: documentary.org)
LV: People told you “maybe you shouldn’t make this film“?…

DP: Well not because they think it wasn’t a good idea but they just thought that it was impossible to make. Raising money for a documentary and getting access to the right people is a very hard thing to do. I wasn’t going to get access to some people because they were under indictment. Ann Freedman was another story because she was under a lot of legal threats and she ultimately didn’t want to go on camera.

LV: Were there any moments you thought “Ok, maybe thee’s people are right. Maybe I can’t make this movie”?

DP: I think as a filmmaker you always have those moments. You’re going “what on earth am I doing?”. The work kept going on forever and I was going broke. I tend to finish things I started. It’s maybe insane. I think that there were people that were kind of glad that I was making this film. Those people weren’t guilty of anything but they’ve been to Ann while her (fake) painting was sitting there. It wasn’t their job to say “hey, is that a real one?”. That’s not what happens in an art gallery. You’re sitting in Knoedler and so you’re not questioning whether something is real or not. Some people like it that I was making this film but they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to participate. It wasn’t going to them any good. It wasn’t also that they were so heroic that they were going to do it for history. I think in the end I got interesting people to talk about interesting situations.

LV: Before making this documentary, you were already collecting articles about this case. While filming this documentary, what was the biggest surprise for you regarding the case? What was something you didn’t know beforehand?

DP: As I started to interview people who also knew other things, I was learning more and more about it. Why wasn’t it so unusual that these art experts would not raise a red flag. Some of them did so it would be wrong that say that they never did it. People don’t buy houses for 15 million dollars without having a lawyer coming around and checking it out. These collectors were buying paintings for millions of dollars. A painting that has no papers attached to them. Anonymity is what every buyer wants and then sadly they pay the price for it. They would have that people don’t know that they just bought a fake painting for a lot of money. What happens then is that no one’s talking about that topic.

I think the biggest surprise was this whole thing with Ramiro Gonzales. She wasn’t even someone I was trying to get because she was under a lot of indictment. She wasn’t going to go on camera. She was sort of the least ambiguous character because she had admitted guilt. Then it turned out that she has been beaten up by her boyfriend. Things like that do change your attitude towards her. At first, people were angry at her because they thought that she had ruined the art world but eventually she was just another woman abused by her husband.

LV: This documentary now premiered at Raindance. Are you going to take it to other film festivals after this one?

DP: Yes, it goes to the Haifa International Film Festival in Israel and then we’re taking it to upstate New York to the Film Columbia festival. In November, it will be screened at the Fort Lauderdale Int Film Festival.

LV: Do you have any paintings from famous artists yourself?

DP: No, but I do have a lot of friends who are painters. A lot of the paintings that are in the background of the interviews in this documentary were made by my friends. There’s a certain look that a lot of documentaries have now and it’s a very beautiful look and very sophisticated but sometimes I have the feeling that where the interviews are being taken place has nothing to do with the documentary they’re making.

I wanted to give the people the feeling that they were always in the world of art. Not necessary in the world of the masters in the art industry because those paintings might have been fakes anyway. I wanted to put authentic work painted by contemporary working artists as the background of those interviews. You will get the feeling that you’re always surrounded by paintings and art. For me, it was really about creating the environment.

LV: Do you already have other projects coming up?

DP: I have other ideas. Making this documentary and promoting it is so time-consuming. After spending a lot of time making a film, you’re becoming your sales-person. You’re doing the festivals and you’re trying to find a distributor. I have no time to start making another project.

(This interview was written as part of Big Picture Film Club’s coverage of the Raindance Film Festival 2019)

Driven To Abstraction (Documentary Trailer)

Also Read: Driven To Abstraction (Review)

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Interviews

Filmmaker Rishi Pelham and actors Megan Purvis and Yasmin Al-Khudhairi Discuss Their Film “Hilda”

September 26, 2019
Hilda Screenshot

Hilda, the newest film from writer/director Rishi Pelham, recently got its premiere at The Raindance Film Festival. The movie is an incredibly emotional, moving and relatable story about a teenage girl going through a rough phase in her life. We were able to speak with Pelham himself and with leading ladies, Megan Purvis and Yasmin Al-Khudhairi.

Liselotte Vanophem: Welcome to the Raindance Film Festival. Excited to be here?

Rishi Pelham (writer/director): Yes, but also nervous at the same time. It’s our first time here at the festival and this is also a debut film for a lot of people in front but also behind the camera. It’s the first time that we show this movie to an audience, so it will be interesting to see how they will react. The nerves are always slightly high when things like this happen.

LV: Where did the idea for the story come from?

RP: It’s a weird thing. I was on the tube on one point and it was rush hour. There was a line of these people in business suits who all had a horrible expression on their faces. There also was a young schoolgirl who looked like she didn’t have fewer problems than any other person on that train. However, she had her headphones plugged in and it sounded like there was metal music coming out and she was just dancing along on her seat. All she needed was the music and her imagination. I couldn’t get that image out of my head for a very long time. Somehow the story for this film evolved from that.

Writer/Director Rishi Pelham on mic at Raindance Film Festival, with actors Megan Purvis (far right) and Yasmin Al-Khudhairi (far left) (credit: Facebook / HildaTheMovie)
LV: It’s a very emotional story. How did you prepare for a role like that?

Megan Purvis (“Hilda”): We did a lot of build-up as a team before filming. We had loads of workshops and improv sessions in character. We were also getting to know everybody, so then when we arrived on set and when we were doing the emotional scenes, we just played them as a character rather than thinking like “Ok, now this line and then that line”. It was more being in the moment and seeing what that character would do in certain situations. The preparations we did months before shooting, which was also the first time I’ve ever done those, was great because most of the time you don’t get that process. I think it really paid off in this film and especially in the friendship between Hilda and Ayala.

LV: Was this also how you experienced it, Yasmin?

Yasmin Al-Khudhairi (“Ayala”): Yes exactly like that. For me, it was the backstory of my character that was the main methodology that we used. That was new to me as well. We could have made a whole new film with all the backstory for my character that I got. When I was reading the lines, I wasn’t focussing too much on the lines but just wanted to get all the emotions coming out. I had all of that backstory information, and for me, it was all about how my character would feel about Hilda and the relationships she has.

LV: Does that backstory help with processing the verbal abuse in the film and not to take all the [characters] words personally?

YA: Yes definitely. Sometimes it’s hard to separate things and I remember that when we finished a scene that I wasn’t in the same mindset as before for a few moments after that. I guess that’s when I knew whether I did a scene right or not. If I didn’t get the feeling after a scene then I felt like I had to do the scene again. When I felt that I was still angry or upset just like my character for a long time after the scene, I knew that we got it right.

MP: When I felt like I had nothing more to give, I knew that I did Hilda justice. That’s when I felt like I was satisfied. Luckily for me, I’ve never been through the experiences that Hilda has been going through but being in that moment and playing in that way allowed me to let those emotions go when we were offset. They didn’t linger for too long, for me that was nice. It was weird because we worked with a lot of music, especially for Hilda’s scenes, and I kind of adopted that as an actor. The music became the escape or how I got into her mindset. Rishi gave me Hilda’s iPod and we listened to it. All those things were something I took on board as an actress. It was the music that would take me in or take me out off. That was a big help for me for these emotional scenes.

Megan Purvis (left) & Yasmin Al-Khudhairi (right) in Hilda (Credit: Odds On Productions)
LV: How was it for you to see your story come to life every day on set and then to see the finished film?

RP: It felt weird actually. It was a privilege working with these two actresses and also with the other cast and crew. It was a strange thing. We worked on this film for three years. Mainly due to the lack of funds or how long it took to finally being able to shoot the movie. There was also a lot of time during the workshops.

We wanted to throw the audience right from the beginning into the action, into that metal club. At that moment, Hilda is already at a certain threshold in her life. We wanted to spend time to understand how all characters would be feeling at that same moment. There were certain times during the shoot where, after I’ve written something, I didn’t know if it came from certain memories or my subconscious. I would be looking at it afterwards with assistant director Michael Honnah (The Yellow Wallpaper) and then I would remember where that idea for that scene came from.

We became closer together as a team while we were working on this project and we all reached pushed each other the give the best of ourselves.

LV: So you, Yasmin and Rishi, knew each other before making this movie?

YA: Yes, indeed. We’ve known each other since university. I auditioned for one of his plays at university and that’s how we became friends. A lot of people on the team were friends of Manchester University and that was very nice to have. Then Meg came in and at first, she was like “Oh, you’re all friends” but then she auditioned and we became friends as well.

RP: During the auditions, I wanted to cast the main cast first before finding the rest of the crew. Especially the roles for Hilda and Ayala. We didn’t have any money to rent out some audition space so we found a tortilla restaurant and we were inviting actors to come to that restaurant and to do their audition next to the kitchen. I think that might have turned a lot of people away when they saw the context of how we would do our auditions. Megan came in and she just gave a performance that got us locked in. As a result of that, I think we became close friends as well. I think that’s how we all came to know each other.

LV: Was it one of the scenes you had to do in that restaurant?

MP: The first one we did was one that isn’t in the film. It was one where I was in a club and dancing. The second scene was one that I didn’t see before the audition. It was a surprise one and it was the one in the film in which my baby brother is being given water by Ayala and my character gets rather upset with that. I like to have my lines in advance and I like to know them beforehand so that I can forget them during the scenes. When I was being handed the script during the audition, I was like “Oh my god” but I was trying to pretend that I was cool with it. When we were doing it, I noticed that it was quite wordy and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to remember it. I literally threw the script away and just went for it like that. I was thinking about what would be said in a scene like that. Michael was playing the role of Ayala during my audition and I just threw words at him.

When Rishi gave me the script, and I read it, although I’ve never been through what the character was going through, I could see her. I knew what she was thinking. When he gave me that script during my audition, I just put it aside because I knew what she was going through and what she was thinking. I remember that there were a few high fives after my audition and it felt like it was the best audition I’ve ever given.

Megan Purvis as Hilda (Credit: Odds On Productions)
LV: What was the first scene you (Megan and Yasmin) had to do together?

RP: Well, they met for the first time when they were in character.

MP: It wasn’t during a scene. It was during one of those workshops.

RP: But they didn’t speak to each other then.

MP: No, true. I didn’t know what Yasmin looked like. I was in Manchester and I had never been to Manchester before. Rishi would be like “Ok, she’s standing next to the supermarket at the corner”. I was like “Ok, am I going to greet someone randomly?”. Obviously, I could see where they were filming the workshops and so I thought “Ok, yeah it must be the girl standing in front of the camera”. That’s where we did our first improv.

RP: That workshop went on for about five hours. We ended up in a Jazz club and did Hilda her night out during which the girls discover their love for dance and music. That’s what we wanted to create during that first workshop. We started at that street corner, went to the club and ended up in the park where we played our music.

MP: In terms of filming on set, we did most of it chronologically. I think the first one was the sneaking out of the bedroom one.

LV: Who created the dance routines you have to do in this movie?

RP: That was Justyna (Szymanska) from Manchester. Apart from being a dancer, she’s also studying for her Maths degree. Michael sent me a video of Justyna performing and we’d seen a lot of fantastic dancers around that period and they were always trying to make the dance look very impressive and all about the show. Justyna is one of the best dancers I’ve seen in my life and she was the only person who understood that this wasn’t a dance film and that it wasn’t about the best dancer in the world. It was about someone who just loves dance and was trying to find her style. Justyna took that on and worked tirelessly while also getting a degree in Maths and doing her dance projects. She worked very hard on this film. Megan also had to work incredibly hard to embody these crazy routines Justyna came up with. Justyna really was the brains behind how Hilda expresses herself through dance. Hilda is a character that isn’t very good at talking to people and who can’t vocalize things. Somehow, when the music is playing and when she’s able to dance, she knows how to express her emotions. Without her, this film wouldn’t be what it is today.

YA: The moment where I had the feeling that I understood my character is when I did a workshop with Justyna. It was just a moving workshop and was all about the movements and music. Justyna was doing these different workshops with me and made me understand that’s not all about Hilda and that Ayala also has her own life as well. Ayala isn’t just someone on the sideline. Thanks to those workshops I was able to come to terms with who my character was and how she moved. After that, I found it all so much easier.

LV: Will Hilda have further screenings after its Premiere at Raindance?

RP: Of course we would love for this film to reach as many people as possible. The feedback that we got is that this film is very relatable for people, even if they’re not going through the same difficult time as Hilda. We do believe that the film could have the potential to do that. What we’re going to try to do is, hopefully, have a good festival run with this film and get it seen by as many people as possible. Getting people speaking about it.

LV: What’s next for you guys after this?

RP: When working on this film, someone said to me that before I go to the festivals with this film, that I had to know the next projects I would be working on. This film is the first one of the production company that I and Tomos Roberts founded. We’ve always helped each other during various projects. Sometimes I had to do lighting for a play that he was doing or then he might need to be a gaffer for a play that I was doing. We filled in each other’s roles. Tom did an incredible job producing this film but he also has other projects of his own. I’m thinking about some other projects myself and starting to write my next feature.

YA: For me, it’s just auditioning. I’m quite new to the acting game so I hope this might open some opportunities for me. I’m hoping just to focus on acting soon and do whatever I’m trying to get into. On the lookout for new and interesting roles. Ones that are a bit different and in which I can play the character in the way that other people might not play it.

MJ: I’ve got a couple of films coming out so I’m going to see how those go. I’m waiting to hear back from some auditions. I’m really hoping that this festival will open some doors for us and for people to see what we can create and to see our talent. We can take on projects that we want to do because we want to dedicate our lives to being in the film industry. We’re hoping that Raindance really will help us do that. It’s a festival that celebrates independent filmmaking and it really does do that. We’re excited to get our film and our talent out there and show the world what we can do. 

Hilda (Official Trailer)

Also Read: Hilda (Review)

Interviews

Tatjana Anders & Top Tarasin Discuss Gaslighting in “Your Reality” Short Film

August 21, 2019

“People who gaslight tend to use psychological manipulation to make you believe their reality.” 

Written by and starring actor Tatjana Anders and directed by Top Tarasin, the short film explores the use of gaslighting within a relationship. The film follows Alicia (played by Tatjana Anders) who meets Mark (played by Kyle James) at a coffee shop after he kindly offers to pay for her coffees. On their first date, we see a glimpse of Mark’s manipulating ways when he insists she was late. His behaviour quickly escalates to controlling her, isolating her from her friends and we begin to see how subtle the control and manipulation can be.

Tatjana Anders with guests at the “Your Reality” premiere screening

It was writer and actor, Tatjana Anders’ mission to raise awareness on the topic of gaslighting after having read an article, it clicked that a friend of hers had experienced something similar and she did not know what it was until she saw the term existed.

Tatjana explains she read books and talked to therapists about the topic which helped shaped the story. A crowdfunding campaign to raise funding became an awareness campaign when unexpectedly she began receiving messages from people who shared similar experiences. 

The short doesn’t allow us to explore the many layers to this topic but does builds the characters and is set up in a way that could very well see it as a full-length feature which is exactly what the plan is for Tatjana. 

Big Picture Film Club with Tatjana Anders

What’s the main thing she wants people to take away from this? “Sharing the message – provoke people to ask questions – what’s the cause? Do I know someone who has experienced this? Have I experienced something like this?”

When director Top Tarasin first read the script he thought it was great.

“It broke the format in that it doesn’t feel like a short film. All the elements in a short usually lead to one point like a gimmick or punchline, whereas this was atmospheric, it felt like we were in the middle of a feature, it took it’s time.”

-Top Tarasin, Director

Interpreting the topic for the big screen had its challenges, Top had to limit what he wanted to say, “there are so many angles to explore – abuser, the people around the situation. We needed to focus on one thing – the perspective of the victim, everything had to enforce that perspective and this, in turn, informed the visual language. The choices we made were made from one perspective.

Top Tarasin at the premiere screening of “Your Reality”

Not a topical director, Top is more into universal themes: humans, love, revenge. The topic of gaslighting was different to his usual work, it’s very specific and the focus was the humanity of it, which was a person suffering.

He adds his own perspective of the topic to the film: “the profound sorrow that comes with the loss of time: how did I get here? This is what I wanted to inject into the film.

Your Reality will be released online in September.

“Your Reality” (Official Trailer)

Also Read: The Internet Picks the #BestMovieLineEver

Interviews, News

Big Picture Talks: Seyi Rhodes & Benjamin Zand

June 7, 2019
Ben Zand & Seyi Rhodes on stage at Big Picture Talks

Big Picture Film Club recently held its latest Big Picture Talks event featuring none other than investigative journalists, Ben Zand ( BBC’s World’s Most Dangerous Cities) & Seyi Rhodes (Channel 4’s Unreported World).

You can watch parts 1-7 of the event where both of our guests discussed a variety of topics, from their biggest challenges to ethics when making a documentary.

Big Picture Talks Documentary Special (Ben Zand & Seyi Rhodes)

Also Read: Movie Marketing: Films That Thought Outside The Box

Interviews

Interview: Jenna Suru’s Love Letter to 1960s Saint-Tropez with “L’Âge d’Or”

June 3, 2019
L'Âge d'Or Screenshot

Fresh from its debut at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, we caught up with French filmmaker, Jenna Suru to discuss her latest film L’Âge d’Or (Golden Age). L’Âge d’Or tells the story of a French-American producer who meets an ambitious French theatre actress in Paris and decide to undertake an artistic project together.

Presh: What was your inspiration for the film? Are there any direct influences from your own upbringing?

Jenna Suru: My upbringing had a major influence on “L’Âge d’Or”. I started acting when I was 8 years old in Paris and 17 years old in Los Angeles. Then I made my final commitment to become a filmmaker and tell stories that will inspire the audience. I opened my feature film company Belle Epoque Films in France in January 2015 as moving to London, where I stayed and produced movies for about 2 years. I’ve put all the best of these inspirations in “L’Âge d’Or”. The film is a period drama set in 1967, a tribute to artists who went to Saint-Tropez in South of France in the 60s to change that world that didn’t work for them.

Saint-Tropez was a very important inspiration to me as a filmmaker to create “L’Âge d’Or”. Discovering this village that used to be a small fishing harbour and became this internationally famous point of gathering has touched my heart. It’s a village like none others, where such great artists from the UK, the US and over the world gathered to create masterpieces, where such movies as “God created women” starring Brigitte Bardot were shot. Filming there and in the 35 exceptional locations of the film was one of the deepest experiences of my artistic life.

The film makes references to the socio-political climate of the time in both the United States and France in the late 60s. How do these pressures affect the decisions Sebastian and Angèle make?

There were many pressures and tensions indeed at the time: the Vietnam war, racism, riots in America and Europe… These pressures tremendously affect the decisions Sebastian and Angèle make in the film. Sebastian and Angèle are a modern tribute to the artists that involved in May 1968, Woodstock, Isle of Wight… to change that world that didn’t work for them.

Sebastian is a penniless Franco-American producer living in Los Angeles, who returns to France in his mother’s footsteps to flee the Vietnam War. He’s convinced that art will enable him to change his life, in this world turning upside down. Angèle is an ambitious theatre actress, who plays in small Parisian theatres in front of empty seats. She’s more ambitious than what the world she’s living in has to offer her. As a woman, she feels she’s mainly asked to become a decent mother rather than pursuing any artistic purpose.

Both desperate to change the world, they decide to embark on an artistic project together, ending up in a little village in the South of France: Saint-Tropez… In this village tinged with artistic revolution and music, the experiences they have together will soon force them to face up to their choices. How far are they willing to go to change this world that doesn’t work for them?

During the 1960s Saint-Tropez had become the go-to destination for the very rich, but also acted as a hub for artists at that period of time and is an important location for the film. How did you go about recreating the feel of 1960s Saint-Tropez?

One of the main key parts of recreating the ’60s was to find the ideal locations for filming. I wanted the locations to be authentic to restore the atmosphere of the 60s. After a lot of research and location scouting, we managed to shoot in the locations that were at the very top of my wishlist. We shot in about 35 exceptional locations across France and USA for the film, including the Bir-Hakeim Bridge near the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Saint-Tropez harbour, etc.

Costumes, hair and make-up also needed to be picked up precisely to match the feel of the 60s. We did a lot of work on props and set design. The house where interior scenes (bedroom, living room, bathroom) and scenes in the garden or pool were shot, was also carefully dressed. Cars were chosen very precisely, all the cars you can see on screen are vintage cars: police car, sports car, 404, DS or Simca, the oldest of them, a Simca Presidency, dating from 1957.

You cited Blues and early Rock & Roll influences like Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed and event the Rolling Stones as key musical influences of the film. How did you go about developing the music for the “L’Âge d’Or”? Will we see some of there music included as well?

Developing the music for “L’Âge d’Or” was a big challenge as the Saint-Tropez of the 60s can’t be recreated without music, which holds a very important place in the film. For “L’Âge d’Or”, I chose songs from the very best artists from that time including Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed… Those who will watch the film will see how important music is, from beginning to end!
I created a British band composed of a singer, a guitarist, a drummer, a bassist and a pianist. We recorded the soundtrack in a studio, making sure the musicality would correspond to the musical universe of the film, including the use of Gibson’s guitars from the 60s.

What were your favourite moments of filming?

Filming around Notre-Dame Cathedral for the opening of the Film was very moving. It holds a very special place in my heart, and the Cathedral is specifically mentioned by Sebastian and Angèle in the film. I feel it’s important for us filmmakers to contribute to keeping the memory of those wonderful places, especially considering the recent events.

One of my favourite moments is also the dancing scene in the bar of the Sube Hotel, a privileged place in the harbour of Saint-Tropez since the 19th century. This exceptional location takes us back to the hectic atmosphere of dancing at the time, here on great English rock. There were quite a few dancers involved in this scene which is a tribute to the importance of dancing in the ’60s. The period station and train, where Angèle and Sebastian arrive from Paris, are also very inspiring and authentic. They restored the atmosphere of the vintage railway stations, with a real train from 1967 and a real stationmaster.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this film?

I hope “L’Âge d’Or” will help the audience find answers to their questions about changing the world on their own scale. The film suggests some ideas of how you can bring change as an artist, which is a tough journey and also often requires putting aside your personal success. The Beatles perfectly exemplify how artists managed to bring change in the 60s, for instance when they refused to perform in front of a segregated audience in Jacksonville in the USA in September 1964.

I often think about all of those who just like me are reading the news in the morning and are reminded everyday of how crazy this world is turning. The film suggests some ways to bring change through the characters of Angèle and Sebastian and encourages the young generation to take action.

Jenna Suru debuts L’Âge d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival (Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes)

L’Âge d’Or will be released in France and UK late 2019

Also Read: I Love My Mum World Premiereinterview with cast & director.

Interviews, News

“I Love My Mum” World Premiere – Interview with Cast & Director

June 2, 2019
I Love My Mum Premiere

We caught up with the cast and crew ahead of the premiere of the Alberto Sciamma written and directed, I Love My Mum.

"I Love My Mum" World Premiere – Interview with Cast & Director

We chatted behind the scenes to some of the cast and to the director of new British Independent comedy, I Love my Mum Movie at the film's world premiere…

Gepostet von Big Picture Film Club am Sonntag, 2. Juni 2019
I Love My Mum – World Premiere
Interviews

Writer & Director Alberto Sciamma Discusses His Latest Film “I Love My Mum”

May 16, 2019
I Love My Mum Screenshot

Independent British comedy, I Love My Mum tells the story of mother and son who inadvertently get shopped in a container from their UK home to Morocco. Without money or documents and still in their pyjamas, they need to find a way back to the UK. The film is produced by the growing independent company, Camelot Films, the team behind 2018’s indie-thriller Winter Ridge alongside Amunet Productions. We spoke with Alberto Sciamma, the film’s writer & director, to find out what fans can expect.

Presh: The film takes the viewer through Morocco, Italy, Spain & France. What were your favourite locations to film in?

Alberto Sciamma: All of them were great locations; the sea and port in Italy, mountains and gorges in the Pyrenees, all the way from Marrakech to Tanger, even shooting in Tilbury was great fun. Each location presented a different set of challenges, but I was lucky to be working with two fantastic Producers; Alexa Waugh and Matt Hookings. Alexa coordinated all the shooting and travelling etc, and she managed to make it all work – it was nuts.

But the real beauty was that in each place we worked with great actors. In Spain with Aida Folch, who plays the ‘love’ interest to Ron; she is a natural and very incisive actor. Dominique Pinon and Tim Downie in UK; both such great actors and with very different styles of comedy. And Frank Laboeuf and Sara Martins in Cataluña, both brilliant at improvisation and both great to be with.

We shot all the time as we moved from place to place, it was non stop, always chasing the peculiar or the unexpected, we invited accidents to happen, so we could get the spontaneous feel I was after.

The movie is explosive and raw, and to capture that energy the shoot had to be the same, and it was; we were running away from the police in Morocco as Tommy French forgot his driving license in London, had accidents with the old Mercedes car he had to drive — and Kierston endured hours of cold water and jellyfish stings…

To captured some moments it was just me and Fabio Paolucci, our DOP, climbing endless mountains to get a few seconds of footage.

I guess each of us in the team remember one of the locations with special love — depending on where we got ill.

At one point in Morocco, everyone was down; how we managed to get those scenes done, well, that was a miracle — I mean; an actor had to hold the boom, sound had to assist the director of photography, and I believe our little dog was focus pulling… it got feverishly crazy.

Writer / Director Alberto Sciamma (DMovies.org)

How much of Ron & Olga’s journey is a metaphor of British peoples relationship with Europe? Or was that not a consideration in making the film?

Ok… that’s a big question, and I would rather go to Alton Towers… but here we go:

Sometimes we talk about Europe as if it was a single homogenous entity, and it’s not. Europe is fragmented and diverse. Just look at Spain where I was born, opinions and views and attitudes change from region to region. Europe as a solid entity does not exist, or does it?

Ron and Olga are out of their comfort zone, they are fish out of water; dropped from their British made sofa into a new universe. They have issues communicating and adapting to their new surroundings — but at the end of the day they don’t care, they plough on. That sense of self-absorbing attitude fascinates me — and let’s be real, you just need to go to Magaluz (Magaluf) for a few days to experience it, or hear plenty of politicians talk about the ‘continent’; that world outside that does not speak English.

But that same attitude is everywhere, it’s not British owned. That intrinsic animosity is universal, each country tends to look at the rest with that same sense of occasional mistrust. Regardless how much we hide it behind a veneer of worldliness and sophistication… we all can be prattish; insular people with the same preconceptions and insecurities.

But for me Ron and Olga are heroic! Protected by their Teflon like skin they walk the world, like crusaders, and I just bloody love it… it’s stereotypical but so what? Stereotypes are signals, basic iconography that simplifies the world outside; regardless of how ‘far-off mark’ such iconography may be – it tell us which toilet to use.

So, to answer your question. It’s their journey a metaphor for how we view and communicate with the ‘world outside’?… Benidorm anyone? Let’s go get legless, I’m paying…

Ron (played by Tommy French) & Olga’s (Played by Keirston Wareing) relationship is key to the plot. How did you go about getting the right chemistry between lead actors?

The chemistry happened naturally, it was there from the start. First, we contacted Kierston, she is utterly fresh and strong and very gutsy. Then, knowing Kierston was playing the mum, we looked for a Ron – and we found Tommy French. Or God sent him to us…

We put them together in a room and a second later I knew I had Ron and Olga. I remember I asked them to sing ‘Always Blowing Bubbles’ together… they did. It worked perfectly as they both sounded like strangled seagulls- that sort of high pitched sound they do… so I smiled, they were Mum and son!

You’ve mentioned how your own experience of growing up in Spain but living in England for most of your life serves as a lot of the inspiration for the film. Did you feel you identified more with Ron & Olga or actually the people that Ron & Olga meet as they travel throughout Europe?

I am Ron and Olga. I remember when I first came to England, many many years ago, I fell in love with the place, maybe because I couldn’t understand a single word and that sense of not belonging was actually quite precious, and still with me. But the character I identify more with is the little fluffy dog. He yaps and yaps drinks too much and drowns in the pool – only to be resuscitated by Olga at the end. Yep, I certainly identify with that little lost creature…

In ILMM there are no good guys and bad guys, it’s a naive movie, simple in its core and I hope sincere in its absurdity. I believe my experiences are embedded in all the characters, but not even intentionally, it just happens as you write it and shape it.

Olga (Played by Keirston Wareing) & Ron (played by Tommy French)

Are there personal stories from your own childhood and relationship with your parents that influenced the direction of the film?

All experiences affect what you write. I was once living with a friend of mine in his house, he lived there with his mum – he was in his forties. Circumstances of life took me there; from my house in London to a lovely inflatable bed on the floor, for quite a few months…

I remember arriving very very upset to their house, I opened the door and got in; in front of me stood his mom. Seeing me all shattered and sad and teary she stepped towards me (and please take into consideration she is a very large lady) and she said:

“you want to be sad about something you little prat?! Have a look at this then!” Suddenly I saw an endless landscape of Rubenesque flesh wobbling as she removed her nighty, like a magician revealing a rabbit. My sadness disappeared. I was saved. I realised I had met ‘Olga’ for the first time… Life’s a comedy, so I wrote it.

The film is intended to be a light-hearted comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with this in mind, how did you also go about referencing the current ‘refugee crisis’ within Europe in the film?

Ron and Olga suddenly become reverse-immigrants, utterly lost and trying to find their way back home, but Ron and Olga don’t look at the world with any Intellectual curiosity, they could as well be sitting at home arguing about silly stuff.

There is a scene in the movie in which Ron an Olga must cross from Morocco to Spain in an immigrants dinghy. It’s a difficult scene, a scene that walks a moral knife edge — but I felt it important as the scene is somehow a mirror to our attitudes. We tend to act as Ron and Olga do; we want to help but create chaos instead. The scene is as pathetic as our approach to such matters.

We need a concerted global effort to resolve such devastating human crisis, but you look around and you see a lot of posturing, here and in Spain and Italy and everywhere: as individuals, we talk about it, feel bad for a sec… and then go for a pint.

I Love My Mum (Official Trailer)

I Love My Mum is out in cinemas in the UK on 31st May 2019

Interviews

Interview: Paul Laverty & Icíar Bollaín Discuss “Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story”

April 10, 2019

Jules Brook sat down with Paul Laverty (Writer) & Icíar Bollaín (Director) to discuss “Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story”, a movie based on Carlos’ incredible journey from Cuban ballet prodigy to a globally revered ballet dancer.

Also: Watch out interview with Carlos Acosta

Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story is out in cinemas on 12th April 2019

Paul Laverty & Icíar Bollaín
Interviews

Interview: Carlos Acosta Discusses Ballet & His Film “Yuli”

April 6, 2019
Carlos Acosta - Big Picture Film Club Interview - "Yuli"

Big Picture Film Club’s Jules Brook sat down with legendary Cuban ballet dancer, Carlos Acosta to talk about his incredible journey from Cuba to England and his film “Yuli”. Based on his autobiography “No Way Home”, “Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story” is a film inspired by his life story.

“Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story” will be in cinemas Friday 12th April.

Carlos Acosta
Interviews

Flatshare: The Comedy Drama Web Series For Generation Rent

March 10, 2019
Flatshare - Web Series - Main Cast

Flatshare is a new comedy-drama series by James Barber. Brought to life by the award-winning director, Grant Taylor. It’s an LGBT series that follows the trials and tribulations of four housemates living in Peckham, exploring issues such as sexuality, gentrification and identity. The show features some of the brightest emerging acting talents in the UK including Shaun Cowlishaw (Fools Gold), Andrew Rowe (Great Expectations), Ani Nelson (Brothers With No Game) & Nic Bernasconi (The Man from U.N.C.L.E).

We spoke to James Barber, Flatshare’s writer and creator, to talk about how the web series came about and what we can expect from it.

Presh (Big Picture Film Club): The series deals with multiple themes, from gentrification, sexual identity, class and ethnicity. How have you juggled these different elements in the show’s creation to give each of those issues enough space and time to be addressed?

James Barber (Writer & Creator): It definitely was a challenge exploring all of these themes in just 4 episodes. As a black gay man, I wanted to create a show which was about people who live between the intersections of different identities, the challenges that come with this as well as our ability to thrive within these intersections.

How much of your own personal journey is in these characters?

JB: Writing Flatshare for me was definitely a way of making sense of my own personal journey. It’s so rare that I see people who look like me, who are messy, complicated and flawed on screen. And with Flatshare, I wanted to create a space in which I could exist in my fullness.

James Barber (Flatshare creator)
James Barber (Flatshare Web Series Creator)

We have seen in recent years an increase in more filmmakers choosing to directly distribute their web series’ digitally, on platforms like Youtube, rather than first pitching to a TV network. How did you weigh up the pros of having full creative control over developing the series, versus the cons of not having the resources of a TV network behind you?

JB: I pitched the script to a few production companies who expressed some interest but chose to sit on the fence. For me, the most important thing was getting it made at any cost. As the executive producer, I had lots of creative control, which enabled me to make the show how I wanted to make it without compromise. It took over two years to make due to not having all of the resources I needed, but I was still able to make a show that looks better than some of the things I see on TV.

You successfully crowdfunded to allow you to produce the series. How was the response to the campaign? Despite setbacks in other areas of creating the show, did that give you confidence that people believed in this series?

JB: The campaign did well because I used it as a platform to share the personal reasons why I wanted to make the show which resonated with people. Running the campaign, as hard it was, taught me that what people connect with is a human story which at its core is universal.

Comedian, Lenny Henry recently delivered a petition to parliament calling for a greater number of BAME (Black & Minority Ethnic) writers, producers, directors in UK television, given how underrepresented those groups are within TV production. What barriers would the industry need to overcome to allow for better representation of black writers, producers and directors on TV?

JB: I commend Lenny Henry for raising this issue, because all too often, the focus is on-screen representation, which in my opinion is just window-dressing. I personally would like to see the UK adopt something like the ‘Inclusion Rider’ policy to fully commit to ensuring that we have diverse writers, producers, and directors behind the scenes, otherwise I don’t see much changing. The industry needs to be held accountable. It’s time to shake things up!

Flatshare Webs Series (Trailer)

Flatshare will be released on YouTube Friday 15th March

Interviews

Richard Goss: Breaking Through

November 24, 2018

Whether you’re pursuing a career mainly in theatre, television or film, gaining a foothold in the world of acting is notoriously hard and competitive. Long and often unsociable hours and lack of consistent work can lead increased stress and anxiety, so how can emerging actors persevere in such an environment? We spoke to Welsh actor, Richard Goss, to discuss his career in front of the camera so far, mental health & advice for fellow emerging actors. With a resume that includes roles in The Rise of the Krays & Wrath of the Titans, alongside a slew of short films, Richard Goss is a name to watch out for.

Presh [Big Picture Film Club]: “Breaking” into the film industry is notoriously difficult, what have been the most important lessons you’ve learned in helping you navigate in the industry and build those necessary connections?

Richard: Perseverance. You have to persevere through all the challenging times in this industry with no one replying to your emails, no phone calls, no castings, working in day/night jobs you hate just to survive between acting roles. You need to have a burning desire and a belief in yourself which surpasses all of those negative aspects, keep working relentlessly and applying pressure to be seen. Always be professional and courteous to everyone you meet, whether on set or auditions or workshops. You never know who will be in a position to help you in the future and likewise, you must help people in return.

BPFC: With that being said, organisations like ArtsMinds have highlighted the prevalence of mental health issues within the film industry. Are there steps that you’ve taken to look after your own mental health in a stressful industry? And are there any tips you would suggest to actors?

Richard: That’s a good question as the mental health aspect is often overlooked or not discussed openly.  Personally, I found concentrating on my physical fitness and physique has helped my mental health. It enforces discipline and commitment and honestly, I just feel fantastic after a good workout. I train 6 nights a week, a mixture of bodybuilding and martial arts. I’ve trained in Krav Maga for eight years and boxing several times a week which releases anger and stress.  It’s healthy to have other hobbies outside of acting. I love video games (obsessed with Red Dead Redemption II and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey!), reading, travelling. Also learning other skills which can be useful for acting such as horse riding, archery, martial arts, music, etc. If you live in London, it’s always good to get the hell out of there for a few days every now and then too!

BPFC: From acting in a war film (The Final leaves of Winter) to crime drama (Rise of the Krays), you’ve had varied roles, but also parts that are very distinct to a particular time period. What is your process for getting into character? How does this change with varying roles?

Richard: The process changes from role to role but always begins with the script. You develop an idea in your head from the page of what the character is going to look and sound like, you start practising in your room and building the character, the mannerisms, the voice, the accent. And you have to research the time period, the cultural setting, social class, the characters overall arc, does he change and grow throughout the course of the film? And ultimately does it serve the directors vision for not only that character but the film itself? You can’t get caught up trying to show off a character, it has to serve and respect the script. I hope all of that doesn’t sound too pretentious! For some roles, I will stay in character because it’s easier to maintain an accent or mannerisms that way, but there are some which luckily are easier to switch on and off.

BPFC: Short Films have seen a surge over the last few years, particularly with platforms like YouTube and Vimeo acting as their primary distribution platforms. As an actor, how have those platforms shaped how you are able to promote yourself?

Richard: You know, I’m behind the curve with a lot of social media platforms, I grew up in a time before anything like this even existed. Dial-up modems were just becoming a household accessory when I was a teenager. Jesus that makes me sound old. But I’ve discovered some great filmmakers through YouTube so I’m learning! I also think it’s interesting to see if YouTube’s original content will be able to match the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime, who put out so many good shows, it’s insane. Truly a great time for series and content.

BPFC: Finally, what films are you currently working on?

Richard: I’ve wrapped roles on two films this year: Straight Lines, directed by my longtime friend (and housemate!) Josh Crooks, starring Kacey Ainsworth from Eastenders and Grantchester. That was a really fun shoot as I got to perform an American accent on film for the first time whilst sharing scenes with Kacey and I also had a stunt scene. The second is “The Prince of North West” which is an indie crime thriller, directed by Todor Tragmar, I play an ex-boxer and enforcer for a London criminal gang. I believe it’s going to be black and white, a real film noir style. Both films are currently in post-production and from what I know will be aimed at the festival circuit before a general release which I’m really excited about! Aside from those, I’m developing my own script and I’ve just auditioned for two major US TV series so….fingers crossed!

Interviews

Matthew Holness: Possum, The New Silent Horror

October 24, 2018
Matthew Holness

POSSUM is the debut feature film from writer/director Matthew Holness, co-creator and writer/star of the
cult TV series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

The story follows disgraced children’s puppeteer Philip (Sean Harris), returning to his childhood home of
Fallmarsh, Norfolk, intent on destroying Possum, a hideous puppet he keeps hidden inside a brown leather
bag. When his attempts fail, Philip is forced to confront his sinister stepfather Maurice (Alun Armstrong) in
an effort to escape the dark horrors of his past.

We had a chance to chat with writer / director, Matthew Holness, to talk about his debut feature film, his inspiration behind the film, it’s unique soundtrack and much more…

Big Picture Film Club: What were your influences in developing the film?

Matthew: Possum was originally a short story, it was never really the intention to develop it as a film, but I was really interested in a lot of the old silent horror films from the 1920’s – German horror films like Nosferatu, M & various others. I fell in love with those films because they seem to be able to deal with characters with extreme psychological states. A lot of those films are about the First World War, there are so many things going on in those films, but at a level below the surface.

I just thought how could you make a silent horror film for a modern audience. What kind of film would it be? And would it be possible to do that? I knew I had this story I had written called Possum, which was about a character that had gone through something so traumatic that he really couldn’t talk about it. He just constructed a puppet to deal with that trauma and that felt to me like a classic scenario for a silent horror film.

Big Picture Film Club: How was it like working with the [BBC] Radiophonic Workshop? And how did their involvement shape the mood and tone of the film?

Matthew: They are part of the old BBC Radiophonic workshop, they’re not BBC now. They’re their own entity. They came on board during the editing process because my editor, Tommy Balding, and I had been putting temporary music tracks on the footage and the tracks that really worked well were old tracks by the Radiophonic Workshop (when they were the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). There were some old Delia Derbyshire tracks that we were putting over some sequences and they just really captured a mood and strange, other-worldly atmosphere that fits perfectly with Philip’s world. The geography of his mind just seems to come alive with this music.

I tried to license the tracks so we could use them in the film, but during that process, my musical supervisor, Phil Canning, said that that he knew the radio radiophonic workshop was looking to score a feature film, so he set up a meeting. They watched the film and saw what music that we were using as temporary tracks. Luckily, they found it was appealing enough to want to score it. I couldn’t believe it when I found that out, it was an incredible bit of news, but it kind of fit so perfectly. They were just the perfect fit for the film and the character of Philip – and his headspace.

Sean Harris as Philip in Possum

Sean Harris as Philip in Possum

Big Picture Film Club: This is your debut feature as a writer / director, did you find it daunting stepping from in front of the camera to behind the camera? And from a production standpoint how did that transition feel to you?

Matthew: I’ve done three short films beforehand, so I wasn’t daunted by the prospect of directing. However, directing is always a nerve-wracking experience. I certainly get pre-production nerves, as I think anyone does, but actually, far fewer nerves than acting because I just inherently feel directing is more my thing than acting. So I felt far more comfortable directing and writing than I do acting. It was nerve-wracking, but it wasn’t daunting in that sense in that I had previous experience. Having said that the scale of a feature compared to a short, you don’t really get a sense of how different it is until you’re actually filming.

I would say in terms of pre-production it’s still the same level of intensity, in that you have to do all the same sorts of things, and in fact the amount of work you have to put in on a short film is not far off the same amount of work you have to put on to a feature. So pre-production [for a feature film] is not necessarily any more difficult than it is for a short film. Certainly when you’re actually filming then you really do encounter just the depth and length of the entire process; a 4-week shoot is far more than a 3-4 day shoot. You learn to pace yourself, you have to find physical and mental stamina that isn’t necessarily an issue on a short film. You kind of get into the swing of it after a few days, then it’s business as usual and all the nerves go away when you’re making the film.

Big Picture Film Club: A lot of elements of the film are quite spare, like the lack of dialogue or the environments chosen. This places a lot more emphasis Philip [Sean Harris] & Maurice’s [Alun Armstrong] relationship. How was it like building that dynamic between them and showing that sense of shared history together?

Matthew: First & foremost the film is about loneliness, as well as other things, but it was important to locate Philip in a space and in a world where he has no communication with anyone. Therefore he’s shot in very lonely places, those are the places he actively seeks out. The only real communication he with anyone is with Maurice and it’s a very unhealthy and tense relationship. What they say to each other isn’t necessarily what they’re thinking or feeling. It is a relationship that in its current state is out of sheer habit; it’s a very antagonistic, passive-aggressive, relationship.

When it came to actually put the two characters together on screen, the tension really comes from the fact the Sean and Alun didn’t communicate off-screen. Sean’s a method actor and part of the process for him was that he didn’t want to engage with the outside world at all. He was in character, he didn’t want to engage with Alun, so you’re really seeing them only get together as those characters. On-screen you’re really just seeing these two characters engaging in this fictional world, so that contributes to that intensity. It’s a very powerful method when it works like that, it’s interesting to watch, and very tense to watch and edit together. I think a lot of that comes from Alun and seans approach to the material.

Big Picture Film Club: Lastly, from its festival screenings, how have you found the reaction to the film? Were there particular reactions that you weren’t expecting that surprised you?

Matthew: Not really, you never know what an audience will make of something until you put it in front of them, so I was sort of apprehensive. I wanted two things to work: one, that they felt for Phillip despite him being an initially unlikeable character, I was very keen that they did feel for Philip. And two, I wanted it to be scary and there was no guarantee of those two things going in. Luckily, it feels that the audiences do empathise with Philip and they are interested in him. And I think they do stay with him and stick with him, there’s a kind of endurance test with Philip, and those who do stick with him and feel for his predicament I think really root for him and really like the film.

It’s about a very difficult subject and I think unless audience members feel for someone who’s gone through something like that it’s potentially not something that they can inherently connect to. I’m glad that audiences have come out and really rooted for him, to varying degrees, but it’s certainly a reaction I’ve felt from them. I’m pleased that it frightens people, it seems to get under peoples skin and that was always the intention. It’s a grimy, gritty sort of film, it’s not supposed to be nice, it’s not supposed to have a happy ending, because there isn’t closure for victims that have gone through an experience like that. It was important not to make it a cinematic happy ending because that wouldn’t be truthful to the subject. It’s an unpleasant film, it’s probably a film people won’t watch twice, but that’s the intention behind it. It is supposed to take you to a place where that’s covered up and brushed aside, that’s really lifting the lid off something unpleasant and that’s the point of it.

Big Picture Film Club will be holding a special screening of Possum on Thursday 1st November at Genesis Cinema, London. Tickets & Info: http://bit.ly/PossumFilm

Possum (Official Trailer)

Watch the official trailer for Possum. We are partnering with Bulldog Film Distribution to bring you a special screening of Possum, our pick for the best British horror film this year, on Thursday 1st November at Genesis Cinema. Info: Possum – Halloween Special

Gepostet von Big Picture Film Club am Sonntag, 14. Oktober 2018