And what will 2017 bring?

| 0 Comments

With half our house under siege with subsidence work, we were happy to see the new year in out in Melbourne Australia this year - which in effect meant we celebrated it a good 11 hours before everyone in the UK. Turns out Australia is a great place for New Year and fireworks and Christmas day on the beach...

New Years Eve in Melbourne

This week Teresa May paves the way for pulling out of the EU, Obama steps down as US president and Trump takes his place in the White House in a couple of days - his official inauguration on 20th of Jan... Again it's Michelle who makes the most moving speech.

So goodness knows what lies ahead this year! I liked the Scottish Sunday Herald's TV guide entry (as posted by Billy Bragg) - something that seems straight out of a bad soap for sure! How all of this will impact on the 2017 zetgeist, policy, and generally people's everyday lives?

Well in good old producing tradition, we plough on regardless and make the most of whatever the situation will be - but with even more URGENCY. And so we prepare for Émergence, a fantastic new opportunity that has come our way for the Girl from the Estuary. We will be prepping two or three scenes from the film (casting, recceing and shooting) under the tutelage of industry experts in Paris - cool.

The lineup for this winter will be to attach French distribution and World sales to raise the rest of the finance for The Girl from the Estuary, whilst progressing the development work on the rest of the slate. I am very much looking forward to meeting my Guiding Lights mentor very soon who, if all goes well, will guide me towards successful outcomes. We spent a fantastic GL8 day with script consultant and industry stalwart Kate Leys, who gave us her insights, helped us encapsulate our projects into one sentences, and encouraged us to pitch our projects to each other - and then receive the feedback silently (absolutely NO speaking and no answering questions), attentively and most importantly with marked gratitude (a slice of cake, a bacon sandwich...). Very wise and useful advice to start the year with.

Guiding Lights Kate Leys Day

I will be part of the international jury at Clermont Ferrand this year, so I am looking forward to discovering a lot of new talent - although quite daunting prospect as there will be 75 short films to watch!!! And then it will be straight on to Berlin from there for the 67th Berlinale.

Looking back at 2016

| 0 Comments

Looking back at this time last year, we were putting in our production funding application for the Girl from the Estuary into the BFI's first feature fund, in anticipation of the Brexit results in June. Never dreaming the good people from the UK would vote to leave the EU, but uncertain all the same. Better not make the result of that, a feature in the BFI's considerations!! Here we are a year later, and very very thankful of that decision, and their decision, and now looking at what lays ahead as Teresa May paves her brutal way forward.

Last week I had to fill out a whole bunch of Media questionaires for all the workshops I did last year - most Media funded. Ah we will miss that indeed!!! Who will fund our training now? There was Creative England's Market Trader which took place over several weeks starting early summer until the end of the year. A development programme that prepares emerging film producers for working in international markets, by taking the participants through intensive residential workshops and mentoring with Mia Bays, Julia Short, Bea Neumann and Peter Ettedgui.

julia and mia.png

peter and bea.png

Our version of Market Trader took us to Galway Film Fair 2016, which I guess for me was a bit of a shame as i was going there anyway with the Guiding Lights! In any case - all a Great experience we wouldn't have without Media funding into Creative Skillset.

There was the EP2C workshop which I participated (also Media funded!!). A week long residential post production workshop split 50 / 50 between emerging producers and post production supervisors. Again run by fantastic mentors Diana Elbaum (Entre Chien et Loup), Roshana Behesht Nedjad Behesht Nedjad, and Niko Remus and their team of experts. Most notably NL post production supervisors Hans van Helden and Neeltje van der Heijdenn. Another great experience and based out in Halle, Germany, making us still feel very much part of Europe, sharing our practises together.

EP2C.png

And of course there are almost my fabulous Skillset trainees Amy and Maria (again something we might loose in the future, and what a terrible shame that would be!!)

maria and amy.png

But there you go, there were many fantastic things that happened last year. Of course very sad things too. Ending with an Australian Christmas for me and the family (Christmas day on the beach!! - now that was really special. It made up for the house being a building site, falling down with subsidence and all ...

subsidence.png

Here's two jolly pics to keave you with! Happy New Year one and all...

Christmas Day Santa in Oz

The Jane and Louise Wilson exhibition at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) started at the beginning of the month. It's a fabulous exhibition including the premiere of Jane and Louise's new film which we shot at the RCA Moving Image Studio over the summer as well as the wind tunnel film we shot at Farnborough as part of the WWI centennary for the iwm, and exploring related themes. Martin Testar lit both films with many of the same key team, and commissioned through FVU. It was fascinating collaborating with Professor Caroline Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moores University, who is the amazing expert behind the 3D facial reconstruction of Richard III.

We Put The World Before You Mima

We Put The World Before You Mima2

It's well worth a visit and on until mid January 2017 before moving on to Wolverhampton art gallery.

Sarajevo Film Festival

| 0 Comments

It's been a busy summer producing Jane and Louise Wilson's Undead Sun2 and finalising the French version of the Girl from the Estuary script. Great news from the Brittany Fund, so our financing is progressing really well but not much time for holidays! So how fabulous to get the opportunity for a little trip to the Balkans.

Because it's been so hard to get writer Gorana Jovanovic into the UK to work with director Kyla on the Cockatoo Inn script together, it seemed opportune to use the Sarajevo Film Festival as a backdrop for us getting together to update the script for the feature and the short on that project - particularly now that we have heard back that we are still in the running for some great opportunities.

kyla gorana working.png

Gorana proved to be an invaluable guide and it was wonderful hearing detailed hitorical facts while visiting the city, the tea houses - where we had to take refuge from a sudden downpour, the mosques and old town as well as all along the river.

kyla and gorana about.png

It was also great to meet up, catch up & hang out with some of the Maia 2015 gang, many of whom were there including Danijel Hočevar (who had a project as part of CineLink co-production market), Ljiljana Djuricko (who was there with her husband Nikola Đuričko (who was there as part of the jury), Dejan Krajcevski, Sergei Serpuhov and David Lusicic (who was there with a film Transmania ). Also Juraj Krasnohorsky with his wife Danka Krasnohorska, and Luka Venturin and Jure Pavlovic (also Maia) and who made fab short Picnic - also with a feature project in Cinelink.

Maia Reunion.png

It was also great getting to meet GL's Lizzie's boyfriend Tom who writes for Screendailies, and to see Fyzal Boulifa out there - even though we failed to really catch up (which is a shame as he's living in Paris now), and the king of the dance floor Jan Naszewski who was also jury member at the festival. And briefly Antoine Le Bos, Stefano Tealdi, and Sanja Ravlić (from Croatian Film fund).

And last but absolutely not least - I saw two films while I was there and so pleased I did. First surprise was to see Mike Goodridge of Protagonist presenting a film called The Fits by Anna Rose Holmer. This film was about an 11 year old girl drawn to dancing and fitting in - so no mystery why I chose that screening. So glad I saw it, it was a super interesting, beautifully atmospheric film!! Also made through the Venice Biennale College Cinema, so great to see what's possible within the constraints imposed by tight budget and schedule.

And of course I had to see Godless, Ralitza Petrova's film. Having heard so much about the film, from its beginnings at Le Groupe Ouest alongside Gaëlle as these projects were born, to our initial French producer visits in Paris and hearing all the difficult stories that occurred in the middle of shooting - I was not disapointed. Ralitza is super talented and the film is so strong (albeit not joyful!!). I am so glad it is beginning its festival life with a bang. Premiered in Locarno it won both the Golden Leopard & prize for best actress. And here at Sarajevo it won SPECIAL JURY PRIZE and HEART OF SARAJEVO FOR BEST ACTRESS for Irena Ivanova who was amazing. She reminded me of Renée Jeanne Falconetti Joan of Arc in Carl Dreyer's film. I expected Godless to be dark and bleak, but I was gripped, moved and captivated right the way through to the end. Congratulations to Ralitza, her producer Rossitsa Valkanova of KLAS Films and the team. It goes to show with strength and resilience and a whole lot of talent you can do wonders.

Sarajevo Films.png

I believe it's official now, so I can start posting lots of pretty pictures about the Guiding Lights, Galway etc..

Guiding Lights 8

So - much as I was disappointed not to get a full application in to the BFI's Vision Awards - I did manage to get one into Guiding Lights and Market Trader. And the good news is they decided to pick me - YAY!!! The VA thing was infuriatingly depressing, at least at midnight on whatever day that was, when I had to press the send button on the half-baked application without a budget. And I did howl. But I only had me to blame for not allowing the time :( three or four hours was never going to be enough when people spent days on their applications. At least I haven't had to be in perpetual fretful suspended apprehension all this time, while they processed the applications and went through the interviews. It was such a popular call-out (of course!!) with so many applications from great producers who actually put together really compelling applications! So there you go.

Fancy Dinners and parties at Galway Fleadh

But back to the Galway Film Fleadh, Guiding Lights and Market Trader... I'm mixing them up a bit here because we just spent 4 days in Galway all together, and at times it was hard to remember who was part of what. Market Trader is a Creative Europe incentive run by Caroline Cooper Charles until she left Creative England last week ☹ and Haley Mellor with Mia Bayes, Peter Ettedgui and Beatrice Neumann as mentors. This is a professional development programme aimed at giving 10 emerging UK feature film producers a better understanding of international markets and international co-production, although of course now with BREXIT and all that.... international co-production may mean more than ever the USA coming to shoot in the UK more than any mutual cooperation with Europe unfortunately. But anyway.

Galway Medley

Guiding Lights is the UK film industry's leading mentoring programme supporting upcoming filmmakers and professionals through high-level mentoring, and complemented by training and networking activities. We are: Ohna Falby, Ailbhe Keogan, Lindsey Dryden, Brian Martin, Kara Smith, Matthew Hellett, Julia Stovell, Becky Bruzas, Sarah Brocklehurst, Jude Goldrei, Ruth Paxton, Lizzie Brown, Aleem Khan, Kate Dolan, Baff Akoto, Paven Virk!! During our time on the scheme, we will be matched with a leading film industry professional who provides advice and guidance over a nine-month period. Our time at the Galway Fleadh was led by the fabulous GL duo of organisers the stalwart GL leader Emily Kyriakides and GL6 graduate Alex Thiele. Who made our stay endlessly fun and rich - thank you ladies!

Emily and Alex

Being at Galway Fleadh was fun. Screeningswise, we only saw The Young Offenders by Peter Foott. But it was so good it kept us all awake, a big achievement on so little sleep! It was fast paced and stylish, very funny but also really dark, and always human right the way through. The young actors (Chris Whalley & Alex Murphy) were fantastic and I thought the woman playing the wife Hilary Rose (who was actually Peter's wife and very pregnant with their first baby by the end!!) was really great too & the role she was playing was such a refreshing change from your usual mums on screen. Really loved it... And thankfully as the director, producer (Julie Ryan), DoP (Paddy Jordan), actors and sales agent/distributer (Patrick at Wild Card) came to give us Q&A masterclass on the making of the film. What a delightful bunch of people!! I so enjoyed that and it really made you want to work with them. I was even more chuffed when I found out they won the best film at the festival (shared ex aequo with A Date for Mad Mary) - really well deserved!

The Young Offenders at Galway

Masterclass-wise, I was also super interested to go see a talk given by Katie Holly at Blinder, Lauranne Bourrachot and Vanessa Saal at Protagonist (and Keith at IFB!!) on the finance structure of Love and Friendship - a French Irish co-production with the NL and Protagonist. Super interesting! And then there was Robbie Ryan! He gave a masterclass on being Robbie Ryan, again super refreshing!

Galway Medley

There were also talks on tax credits, working with the IFB and lots of other things, that we didn't necessarily get to. Another highlight was breakfast with Ted Hope from Amazon Studios. He's a mile a minute of straight talking how it is in the movie biz. I also got to listen to Jeanie Igoe from A24, super hot sales company based in LA.

Galway Fleadh General.png

And of course the meetings...

So chuffed to bits by it all and I can't wait for the rest!

23rd June came and, after lots of speculation, the UK voted to leave the European Union. Well 52% of the UK people who voted did.

What can I say?!

Shit!

Why was there a referendum on this? It's very complicated. People study these things full-time to understand all the intricacies, the ins and outs - the good the bad of the organization. What do we know beyond the fact that we have freedom to move and trade within the EU? I have to confess - I have no idea who my MEP is! ... and yes - faceless Belgian bureaucrats make decisions and directives about things like pillow density and what size a banana has to be. But for heavens sake!

So what next? Should we expect a referendum on bringing back the death penalty? Public lynching? Bring back slavery?

Politicians never usually have any qualms about breaking promises. I understand Cameron thought it was his only way to guarantee being elected, but since when do politicians follow through where it matters? They had no qualms about upping university fees despite promises not to, and plenty other things they didn't feel they could follow through on. So why this?

Back in January 2013, the prime minister committed to an In-Out referendum on Britain's membership in the EU. He chose to make this pledge to try to unite his Conservatives, see off a challenge from the rising populist party UKIP and put Labour, unwilling to countenance a vote on the EU, on the back foot.

When Cameron triumphed in last year's parliamentary election, becoming the first Conservative leader in 23 years to win a majority in the House of Commons, he was boxed in on Europe.

Why are the people voting on such a thing when many don't even know what they are voting for? What was there to gain?

There are a lot of very disappointed racist bigots going around the UK just now, flummoxed that they've woken up in a post LEAVE victory to discover all those bloody foreigners are still here!!! Now they feel justified to shout at people on buses, in shops, in cinema queues: Paki go home!! We voted Leave - so leave!!

Wow.

A lot of people are justifying the vote saying, it's all fine. We'll negotiate a settlement in which we get to keep all the benefits, just don't have to shoulder the responsibility or the unreasonable costs. AH! How bloody typical! Our fellow EU partners just love that one. President Martin Schulz's response to that is let's not fuck around! You want out. You can bloody well pull your socks up and get the hell out of here fast. He's warned Cameron that his decision to delay the start of Brexit negotiations until his successor is in place will not be fast enough!

Can't blame them, but really. It's a mess and hopefully the people in charge will be good adults, and good divorcing parents, and make considered choices and decisions - trying not to exacerbate wounds and cement ill feelings, but try to do what is the best for economic stability and peace.

Which leads me on to the next most peculiar thing.

This great big Tory mess seems to be mainly falling on Jeremy Corbyn's table. All we hear in the press, in the pub and on the streets is bloody Jeremy, why won't he resign. He's to blame. It's all his fault, HE's got to go!

Who has led this spin? And why is everyone biting?

Labour was unwilling to countenance a vote on the EU when Cameron made it his mandate back in 2013. So why should Corbyn share a public platform with Cameron to sort out the mess - a mess he had not invited in the first place. What difference would it make beyond making Corbyn look like someone weak who swings any which way the spin doctors ask him to.

At a time when the UK has established the results of mob rule, and the tactics of displaced finger pointing as a means to secure one's personal wellbeing, to the detriment of anyone else's - I would have thought a leader who cares more about doing what's right would have been a welcome change.

Where is Atticus Finch when you need him?

Ironically, the angry disenfranchised working classes - the ones who voted resoundly to leave, are historically always disregarded by politicians, who just want to make use of their labour, but don't want to consider their well being. But there was Corbyn, fighting their cause, expressing his deep concerns over the results of austerity; exposing the conservative ongoing policies of spending billions cutting taxes for the richest families and for the most profitable businesses while squeezing the poorest parts of the population.

The deep anger felt by an ever-growing and very large part of the people of the UK has been deflected once again from those who should shoulder the responsibility (the government of the country they live in!!) for these policies, and instead has been pointed at a faceless "foreign" organization known as the EU.

People love to find someone else to blame.

So the EU are to blame for why we can't get a job, we can't afford to buy a house, we can't afford to live in London where all housing has been inflated for because this suits the market.

Easy to fan the powerlessness and fear everyone feels, faced with the threat of swathes of endless desperate immigrants into the country.

What will be the cost translating all these real world problems into localised protectionist and reactionary behaviour.

Where are the responsible considered adults?

No one wants to be responsible for what happens next. Cameron resigns instantly before he's even asked to. Gove and Boris - well let's not even mention them. How crazy! And now all people can do is blame Corbyn.

Anyway, here we are now, the quiet after the storm and I'm still reeling from it all. Who knows exactly what's going to happen?

On a personal level: Producing films is hard enough without your country trying to kaibosh you.

The BFI have been hugely supportive, and the creative community as a whole is trying to pull together, to find positive solutions: Business as usual for now.

I can only hope that the rest of Europe will do the same.

Fingers crossed we can continue to co-produce regardless!

LV= Commercial Spain Shoot

| 0 Comments

I've been shooting an LV= commercial with Eli Sverdlov at Dirty and with Designate agency in Brighton. It's been great shooting in Spain again. Fabulous crews, weather and locations in Valencia and Barcelona.

Valencia La Ciencias

It was also wonderful meeting fabulous Manu Kadosh and Yaakov Turjeman (Turji) DOP and Production Designer from Israel.