Plymouth filmmakers GET Crucial produced this weekend’s music video for Crazy Arm’s latest release Broken by the Wheel. We caught up with Chris Southern to find out more about what drives GET Crucial and how they go about making their movies. You can find the first part of our convo… read on for the rest..
D&CFilm: You mentioned on the GET Crucial MySpace that creative decisions are taken as a group – how does that work?
Get Crucial was started basically as a three person collective: Myself (Chris Southern), Richard Gorman and Nicola Elliott. We began working together at university and it was a dynamic that was incredibly flexible, but also tight and pro-active. With pretty much every project we’ve worked on, we’ve had our own roles, ie director, producer, writer, editor, etc, but within that, we have been able to give and take creative criticism, which has given a great deal of strength and solidarity to our productions. It has also meant that there is never a creative block because we’re always there to step in and help out on other aspects of the project with a fresh, different pair of eyes.
D&CFilm: What sort of films/stories are you drawn to and what gets you excited about a project?
Originally, when I applied for my university course, my personal statement was basically a tirade against Hollywood and it’s obsession with happy endings, resolution, and fantasy.
To some extent, that is still true. I do love all aspects of film, and pretty much all genres, (although I’ve never been a fan of musicals,) but the films that excite me the most, and the ones that make me want to keep writing and directing, and to make a living from doing it, are the concepts that are truly alive. In our reality. Films that discuss love, hate, tragedy, comedy, romance, and horror, but do it in a way that is grounded and relatable. I like that things don’t always end nicely, and that the guy doesn’t always get the girl. It reminds me that cinema and life are on the same page, and I think more people need to be reminded of reality!
D&CFilm: Has the role of film changed with technological developments?
Definitely. I have always loved films, and like many people my age, one of my first film memories was sneaking downstairs in the dead of night to watch videos on my Dad’s toploading VCR.
Fifteen years later, I’m able to get hold of a couple DV cameras, or whatever I can, and shoot something with little effort. I have my own editing suite at home and, like with the Crazy Arm music video, Richard and I were able to put a professional video together within six weeks. Probably less if we’d have really tried! It has helped me to appreciated just how hard it is to create, and how easy it is to be a critic, without creating.
I also think that it really does mean that filmmakers, established or not, have had to up their game in order to rise through the ranks, or stay ahead of the pack. With so many people with so many ideas able to access so much powerful equipment, there is a powershift in what can be achieved. I think that modern, no budget, geurilla filmmaking, is the new punk scene, and you can see plenty of places where it has already broken into the mainstream to great effect. I really hope that I can be a part of that and continue making films.
D&CFilm: How vibrant is the Devon and Cornwall filmmaking scene?
Personally, my knowledge of filmmaking in Devon and Cornwall is quite sketchy, so I wouldn’t like to say too much either way! However, having been to Falmouth last year for the Cornwall Film Festival and also experiencing the Plymouth Sunday Shorts festival a couple years ago, I think there are some interesting things happening. I would love to see some more readily available help in South Devon for filmmakers though, currently for me, it is a matter of having to sneakily borrow cameras from friends at university!
D&CFilm: What the best bit of advice you’ve been given?
“Get on their radar.” I was recently showing a short of mine at an event at BAFTA and when speaking about getting funding with another short film director afterwards, he said the best thing to do is to make sure that you are on their radar. Speak to people, introduce yourself, announce your presence and your intent. It’s something that I’d been afraid to do before that, and now something that I want to make sure I do more of.
D&CFilm: What do you find is the most difficult/troublesome aspect of filmmaking?
Filmmaking itself? Filmmaking is the ultimate in ‘think fast’ exercises. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control the public (if you’re shooting in public that is), you can’t control the light and God knows there are a million other things that can go wrong. So for something that needs to be so controlled, it is imperative to have back up plans. I think the most difficult aspect of filming is just knowing that the one thing you don’t think of is the one thing that will definitely go wrong. Oh, and distribution. I need to get the hang of that.
D&CFilm: What projects have you got lined up and what’s your dream project?
I have just finished working with a good friend of mine who has directed his first short film. I’m going to be continuing to work on that film in the editing stage and also in the music stage. Then I’ll be following Crazy Arm around on some of their UK tour in June and creating video blogs for them. We’re also already talking about the video for the second Crazy Arm single, which will hopefully allow us to work in some of the more political themes of their music. Finally, I’m currently writing a ‘Coen-esque’ short, about a man and his mugger, which I hope to direct over the summer.
My dream project is a tragic story about a woman called Peg Entwhistle. You should google her. I would absolutely love Roger Deakins to shoot it, and Guillermo Arriaga to write it.
D&CFilm: Cheers Chris! Thanks for your time!
Read the interview with Crazy Arm’s Darren Johns on the People’s Republic of South Devon