Monday, August 20, 2007

See that “busy” and raise it.

On the way home, blogging from the train (never blogged on the move before). I’m sad to leave Edinburgh, especially as the Film Festival is in full swing and there are loads of things happening that I want to go to but will miss - but I have a feeling I’ll be back sooner rather than later. It’s been well worth the investment in a four-day Industry Access pass, because I’ve been able to get into screenings and talks pretty much as I’ve wished, as well as had access to the Industry Office and the Industry events programme, plus the Delegate Centre with a nice quiet café/bar, internet access and the Videotheque.

So, back to yesterday, and the most packed day so far. First up was a keynote address from Geoff Gilmore, Director of Sundance Film Festival, talking about independent film, particularly American independent film. It turned out to be a much more business-oriented talk than I had expected, but none the less interesting and insightful. His definition of independent film was one which is a creatively and personally driven vision, as opposed to studio/business driven. He said that the box office, and in particular the pressure of the opening weekend figures, was causing problems for indies because there’s no time for word of mouth any more; films disappear from cinemas after a week if the figures aren’t good, and because indies can’t usually afford big TV or newspaper ads, or to go for wide distribution they don’t have visibility to get the word of mouth that they need. Whether DVD and the internet will provide a solution remains to be seen.

As for the crucial question – how do you get a film into Sundance? Submit it. He said they are actively looking for films, especially international ones, and they don’t tend to source from festivals, but from individual submissions.

Next was a talk from Ginnie Atkinson, Managing Director of EIFF, mainly about how Edinburgh sources films for the festival. She said that Edinburgh has a reputation as a good place to find films and new talent, and talked about some films from past festivals, how they’d been acquired and what they’d gone on to achieve.

Then I went to an In Person talk with Samantha Morton. There was a problem with the sound which really seemed to throw Hannah McGill off her stride, not helped by Samantha Morton who didn’t seem to be as relaxed and at ease as previous interviewees. However, they warmed up eventually and it turned into an interesting retrospective of Samantha Morton’s career. She said that acting, like any form of creativity, is like a muscle and must be exercised every day, so when she wasn’t working she’d go to workshops, and keep acting even when she wasn’t getting paid. Asked what role she’d like in a classic remake, she was very anti-remakes, particularly of European non-English films remade in Hollywood, generally worse and with “the same old faces”. She was also very keen to continue working in the UK and in independent film, because that’s where she came from, and if people disappear to Hollywood then there won’t be any independent film, and then where do the next generation of actors come from? “It’s about more than ego”. A good talk that got going after initial glitches.

After that, just had time to nip to a reception organised by Screen South (not the reception I’d originally been invited to, but Cargo is a shorter walk from Cineworld than the Delegate Centre, and by last night, that was a significant consideration). It was very good, partly because there was real food there, but also because I met a producer of documentary features, and we talked over a couple of ideas and agreed to be in touch via email soon to develop one of them.

The first film of the evening was “Rocket Science”, written and directed by Geoffrey Blitz, director of “Spellbound”. It was in the mould of films like “Thumbsucker”, where a troubled teen (in this case a boy with a stammer) is hindered as much by his dysfunctional family as by his problem in his pursuit of the girl of his dreams. Funny, and sweet without being cloying, it avoids the neat ending where the hero overcomes his stammer and everything is wonderful for ever after. Good film.

And finally, “Control”, the Anton Corbijn film about Ian Curtis, with Sam Riley as Ian Curtis and Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis. It’s beautifully filmed as you would expect, and the music is fantastic. I saw it with Becky Knapp, and we agreed that we found it hard to tell whether the songs were being performed by Joy Division or by the actors, that’s how good the actors were. It’s a very moving film, not exactly “enjoyable” as such, given the subject matter, but a must-see nevertheless.

Today has been a quiet day – I went to a session run by Metlab about “script to screen” which was very disappointing, but the day picked up when I met a director who is looking for potential collaborators, mainly writers, to work on short films initially. We had a good chat over lunch, and agreed to watch each other’s films in the Videotheque, and think about whether we can work together. I watched Fiona’s film, and definitely want to follow up. And finally, a meeting with Mary Davies in the Industry Office, which was basically a career chat about where to go next and how to get there, which was very positive and reassuring.

And that’s the end of a very intense weekend. It’s been well worth the investment of both money and energy.

(Have logged onto GNER wifi to post, and this is the third attempt .... it'll probably be there three times at least when I check once I'm home ...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope to have same luck as Amanda in making contact under the new system. Reading about the Edinburgh exploits made us feel exhausted. Glad you had such a good time. Thanks for keeping all your readers so well-informed.
Love from us

2:25 pm  
Blogger Tim Clague said...

Sounds great - shame I couldn't make it this year

9:33 pm  
Blogger Tim Clague said...

Have stolen a bit of this for my blog also! Very cheeky - but have included a link back.

9:40 pm  

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