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Jul 20

Sharing the strain

I have some advice for anyone who wants to be a filmmaker. Find yourself a supportive husband!

OK, some of you might prefer a supportive wife, partner, boy/girlfriend, or whatever, but I’m sure you get my drift. You can’t do it on your own, or worse still with someone who resents your dreams.

I am incredibly lucky to have a wonderful, and extremely long-suffering, husband and a fantastic family and I’m happy to admit I would be completely lost without their support.

Following a dream can be an amazing experience but it can also be exhausting, infuriating and occassionally downright depressing.

There are times when I want to scream with frustration when things go wrong and others when I am bouncing with excitement because something has gone wonderfully right.

This is not a recipe for domestic harmony.

As I’ve said, I’m lucky and I know it, but if you are thinking of starting out on your own filmmaking adventure I would strongly advise you to be honest with your loved ones.

Tell them it’s not going to be glamorous. In fact, tell them it’s going to be hell.

They need to know that for a long period of time you are going to be stressed, anxious and ecstatic by turns. All available money will be spent, birthdays and anniversaries will be forgotten, and you will spend long hours working with strange new people they neither know or understand.

If your plans are met with exclamations of shock, horror or ridicule I can only suggest that it’s better that you know their feelings now rather than after you’ve given up your job and committed your life savings to a new camera and editing suite.

However, if you are lucky enough to find that your family and friends are prepared to support you, you will have a resource more valuable than gold and a constant source of emotional strength.

And don’t ever forget to tell them how much you appreciate them!

Jul 15

If you don’t ask…

Asking people for money is pants!

I don’t know if anyone enjoys doing it but if they do they must be very different from me.

I have spent four years working towards making my film and that includes a lot of time studying the business possibilities. I have visited film markets, researched distribution platforms and spoken to distributors.

I wouldn’t be going ahead if I didn’t believe I could make a profit and I have already spent a considerable amount of money, contributed by family and friends, to get to this stage.

I feel confident that I am not going to let down those who matter most to me.

And yet, when faced with a stranger asking me if I am sure they will see a return on their investment, I start to blush and say “No. There’s no guarantee. You may lose the lot.”

It’s the honest answer, of course, but not the one investors want to hear.

I know some of my friends are frustrated with me and tell me I have to sound more positive but it’s easier said than done.

I do feel passionately about making Deadly Intent and I am absolutely convinced that the team I am working with will create a superb, saleable film but how do I convey that belief to other people?

If anyone out there has any advice I’d be really glad to hear it.

Jun 30

AUDITIONS

I am always impressed by youngsters who can walk into an audition with people they  have never met before and give a confident performance.

We held auditions in Dawlish today for James, the young lead in Deadly Intent, and the boys who turned up were wonderful. None of them were more than nine years old and yet they were all prepared to have a go at whatever we asked of them, from shouting at the tops of their voices to acting out improvised scenes.

I hope they didn’t find the experience too scary but if they did it certainly didn’t show!

We have more auditions lined up in Exeter tomorrow and then comes the difficult part of deciding who to ask back for recalls. I know that it’s going to be a really tough choice.

To be honest, that’s the one part of making films that I hate. Having to disappoint people. Especially kids. However talented they may be, it’s inevitable that most of the boys auditioning are going to be disappointed. At the end of the day we only need one James.

But I do believe acting, and auditioning, is good for kids.It helps them develop abilities that they can use in many different situations.

I know ‘pushy’ parents often get a bad press, and some people fear that if they encourage their children to act they will turn into self-centred little primadonas but in my experience most children who enjoy drama gain a lot from it. Certainly, the boys we saw today were great.

Roll on tomorrow.

May 28

Why so few women?

It was impossible to be in Cannes this year without hearing the rumblings of digust from the assembled women that, yet again, the Palme d’Or shortlist was a male-only affair.
However, it wasn’t until I got home and read a report from the Guardian that I realised there have only been two years in the Festival’s 65 year history when the shortlist has NOT been exclusively male.
Why?
Are we seriously expected to believe that there are no women director’s worthy of being included?
Sadly, the imbalance is present right through the film industry. In Hollywood only 5% of the top 250 films were directed by women.
And yet, strangely, the pattern is not the same around the world.
It may come as a surprise to many but the countries where women have the most freedom and equality are not necessarily the ones with the most opportunities.
Some months ago I was told that the proportion of women working in the Iranian film industry is actually higher than the proportion working in the British film industry.
At the time I found this hard to believe but while walking around the sales floor in the Film Market at Cannes I saw that films from the so-called third world often have a far more liberal approach to women than might be expected.
It is not unusual to see posters for films with exclusively women casts. And some of the women even appear to be over thirty.
Can you name a Britsh film with an all female cast?
No. Neither can I.
Filmmaking is one of the few areas where equal opportunities simply don’t seem to apply and that makes me more determined than ever to make Deadly Intent a success and prove that women can make superb films when given the opportunity.

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