Vee Vimolmal is a Cornwall-based actress, who stars in the cult sci-fi classic Tangent Room. Ahead of the special screening at Calstock Arts, with a Q&A with the director, we caught up with Vee to talk science, rooms, Hollywood, and Cornwall…[Read more…] about Vee Vimolmal: ‘Cornwall is so beautiful and cinematic’
Adrian Cabello says it was only natural for him to film Cornwall, and how! Times, tides, drones, patience and early mornings combine to create a stunning journey. We asked him how he put together such an uplifting film.[Read more…] about Adrian Cabello: It’s only natural to explore and film Cornwall
“Queer Theory posits a radical – and often irreverently funny – assault on the very idea of the normative,” Exeter Uni Benedict Morrison tells D&CFilm. We’re chatting because Benedict hosted the Q&A with Doozy director Richard Squires at the Exeter Phoenix. This is all fascinatingly new and we’re hooked and are now watching TV and film in a new way. Here’s the convo…[Read more…] about Queerness in TV and film: challenging what we think we know
Florence Browne is a documentary filmmaker based in Cornwall whose films peer through ‘a window into all sorts of different worlds’. We caught up with her about her Down on the Farm documentary and asked about her passion for exploring the emotional connections with farming[Read more…] about Window into different worlds: Florence Browne Down on the Farm
After two-and-a-half years as the Digital Programme Coordinator at the Exeter Phoenix, Alix Taylor has a new role in
For Resolutions, writer / director Heidi Jones explored a real-life situation to see how her characters would react. We spoke to her about drama, music and Sally Potter[Read more…] about It’s endlessly motivating to work with amazing people: Heidi Jones
Heaps of creativity, dedication and personality goes into creating a local, community radio station. Christ Jones captures the essence of Exeter’s Phonic FM in his documentary This is Phonic. We spoke to him about getting to what’s behind the airwaves[Read more…] about This is Phonic: Creativity, dedication and a wealth of human experience (interview)
Intelligent Life is a film about hope, scepticism and growing up in a Somerset town. We caught up with director Paddy Earle to ask what attracted him to looking for extra terrestrials in the South West[Read more…] about Intelligent Life: dealing with life’s biggest threat – ‘growing up’
Cut From Cloth is a short film that takes personal experience and expands it for dramatic effect. In the process it tugs on teams of talent for something quite special. It’s directed by Tommy Gillard, and produced by Simeon Costello to ask how the story developed and how they managed to bag such a top team.[Read more…] about Cut from Cloth: ‘Death is such an odd part of life’ (interview)
Writer / director Steve Baldwin’s journey into the film The Ballad of Lucy Sands is a fascinating trip beyond the grave. It’s grown into a massive feature film project that has solved the murder in the process. We caught up with Steve ahead of the next stint of filmming in Cornwall, to find out about the true story that came to him in a dream[Read more…] about The tale that belongs to Lucy! Unearthing a murder case in The Ballad of Lucy Sands
Combine a demanding job with a top-class sports career and you’re approaching the world of Babies and Bellyboards. The living-life-to-the-full documentary follows veteran midwife Naomi Perkin and World Champion bellyboarder as she prepares to quit her 30-year career.
One of the inspirations for the Baobab team for making films was their trip to last year’s English Riviera Film Festival. How fitting, then, that this year they should pick up the first English Riviera Film Festival Award for their film Flies.
We spoke to writer Phil John about Baobab, Flies and the future…[Read more…] about The absurdity and despair of grief played out in Baobab’s award-winning Flies
Wale Atoyegbe likes making films about losers. And his short film Desperate Lies explores an incident in one loser’s life. We caught up with Wale to uncover the odd inspiration for the film, how the idea developed and the importance of having a clued up producer[Read more…] about ‘Technology is transforming human emotions into a con’ | Desperate Lies director Wale Atoyegbe
The Janner is filmmaker Zaki Syed’s first short. We featured the flick on D&CFilm, and we wanted to get under the skin of what it’s like to start the filmmaking journey. Here are some of the experiences of the actors and crew who took part in the making of The Janner.
Beard Envy, a new film from John Tomkins, has all that you would want from a short: cross-creative-fertilisation; a community of filmmakers interacting with the community at large; plus a strong sense of classic English eccentricity. And it’s fast-moving, surreal and funny.
The Janner is Zaki Syed’s first film. A tough thriller about a student trying to provide. We caught up with him to ask about the experience…
After watching The Cove 2 and catching up the more of his work, we dropped North Devon filmmaker Ryan Martin a line to find out about shooting and screening a film in a day, the characters in the RAMUK69 universe and classic movies in Barnstaple.
Alexis Kirke‘s new film A Boat takes on the task of recreating the experience of Lewy bodies type of dementia. It’s a pretty big ask, but he seems to have managed it. We popped him a few questions about how he got involved with representing dementia on screen and the top notch team he worked with.
A conversation on a date while sitting in Dartmouth Park (London) led to Sam South writing, directing and starring in his film The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Lighthouse Keeper, a tale about dreams, dreamers and happiness.
Sam studied Theatre Performance at Plymouth Uni, and The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Lighthouse Keeper was largely shot in the East Devon coastal town of Beer. We wanted to find out more about this gentle, heart-warming, cheeseless film.
It’s about the power of film and the responsibility of filmmakers. Something that The Silent writer and director Karen Turner says during our interview is echoed not long after by Ridley Scott in his life-long BAFTA achievement award acceptance speech.
A young boxer fighting depression in the run-up to his first fight is Owain Astles’ Exeter Phoenix bursary winning short The Hardest Fight.
Turn an old joke on its head and you’re apt to start encroaching on a bizarre world of extremes. It’s an approach to life that can inspire a closer look at the edges of the world.
TRANSMISSION bubbles. The short film twists you around and gets in your belly as well as your head.
“It’s a privilege to do something you love, and not many people get to do that.” It’s the first line of Jake Cauty’s ice hockey documentary, Panthers, but you also get the idea that it’s something that he feels about filmmaking too.
To celebrate the DVD release of the enjoyably twisted I Am Not A Serial Killer -starring Christopher Lloyd and Max Records -Tom Leins caught up with the film’s Devon-based filmmakers: director Billy O’Brien and master puppeteer William Todd-Jones.
* Firstly, I believe that you both live in Chagford -how did you first cross paths, and how did this particular collaboration come about?
TODD: Billy called me in 1998 for a short film called ‘The Tale Of The Rat That Wrote’, he was writing and directing. He was looking for puppetry advice. It was a crazily ambitious project: Victorian London, puppet rats, big scale and fictional world. It’s a good example of not being afraid to pick up the phone to the right people. The finished film went on to win festivals all over the world, as well as being BAFTA nominated, so a good call!
BILLY: That was a freezing cold shoot in December ’98 at Chatham Docks in Kent so naturally I thought of Todd when we decided to make I Am Not A Serial Killer in the freezing cold of Minnesota in winter! Over the years we’ve worked on several projects together, we now live down the street from each other and so pop in to talk about the latest mad ideas!
* How has being based in Devon affected your respective careers -either positively or negatively?
TODD: Growing up in Wales, I found landscape and the secrets it has to tell inspirational and here on Dartmoor, it’s clear that each tor might have a tale poetic and epic in scale, with nature as an ever present, hugely powerful character. In the projects I get involved with, often it’s only the location that’s changed -it’s as much about people interacting with the environment, as it is about their personal stories they just happen to be set in Hogwarts, Narnia, Fantasia, or Outer Space.
BILLY: Coming from a farm in Cork I am well used to the rain here! And after ten years and my kids growing up here I love the wildness of Dartmoor and the community in Chagford. There is a great group of writers and artists living here, inspired I guess by the moor -Alan Lee, Brian and Wendy Froud and David Wyatt to shamelessly name drop a few amazing artists.
* I Am Not A Serial Killer is pure Americana. Have you considered working on a project closer to home, or have the number of lacklustre Dartmoor horror movies put you off that kind of endeavour?
BILLY: That’s funny, as I’m in the middle of writing a pretty crazy folk horror musical set on Dartmoor. I follow story -I Am Not A Serial Killer was adapted from a book of the same name and set in the Mid-West. It was great to go over there and help make it come to life. Similarly ever since I moved to Dartmoor I’ve wanted to shoot something here but as you point out, it’s pretty unforgiving on films. Somehow Dartmoor shows up the weakness in films shot here. I suppose what I mean is, it’s hard to capture the magic and your story better be bloody good. This crazy one I’m working on does it for me.
TODD: As with Billy, it is characters and story that are key for me. When the right story emerges from the moor mists, I’ll be there.
* Which films -if any -were an influence on the look and feel of I Am Not A Serial Killer?
BILLY: Well we spent six years getting this off the ground and over that time I scouted a lot of the Mid-West on various trips. In our van myself the producer and cameraman all old friends for whom this was a passion project, we must have discussed dozens of films driving around. Ones that stand out were Rivers Edge, Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Let The Right One In, and anything from the 1970s really.
* What were the biggest challenges in getting the film made?
TODD: The appalling cold that made the black goo freeze onto Christopher Lloyd’s glove-less hands, meaning that I had to chip his fingers out before we could go for another take.
BILLY: I didn’t mind the cold because at long last we were making the film – all those days and nights waiting for finance to click, that was terrible. And hanging on there, hoping the money came, none of us giving up -including Todd -that was the biggest challenge. Being on location in this beautiful place, the Iron Ranges, about a hundred miles from the Canadian border in the middle of the continent and in blinding white snow with the temperatures about minus 20C, well that was fun. You don’t get to experience that every day of the week. It is what we do this business for.
* Conversely, what were the high-points?
TODD: Becoming a fully endorsed member of The Wolf Club. (Maybe not.)
BILLY: That. is not even funny! Put it this way Rural Minnesota in the depths of winter has some scary clubs you do not want to get involved with. I think we all ran away fast!
TODD: Wheels of cheese.
BILLY: Oh yeah, I forgot them. On Sundays, nowhere was open except one Saloon where we’d play pool and watch the local drunk fights kick off. If peckish there was always the frozen pizza selection. Including the infamous Wheel of Cheese.
TODD: Being able to point a camera in any direction in Virginia Minnesota and have it be perfect. And when as Chris stand-in, I was driving Crowley’s Cadillac for scenes for which Mr Lloyd didn’t need to be visible, I had the local police wave me through stop lights when its brakes failed.
BILLY: The Caddy was like a large boat, swaying gently over the snow, and that first morning, when you pressed the brakes and it continued to sway gently straight through the red light
* Perhaps unfairly -I hadn’t realised how active Christopher Lloyd was these days. How did he come to be involved with the film?
BILLY: He loved the script, said he hadn’t been offered such an interesting role as Mr. Crowley before. Lovely man. Threw himself into it, never complained about the freezing conditions once.
TODD: I’d worked with Chris on Who Framed Roger Rabbit years ago and knew of his ability to create characters that were larger than life. We knew that for Crowley, Chris would need be much closer to himself than his usually asked for Back to the Future, Doc Brown-type performance. Billy kept pushing for the real Chris and I worked with him to keep the moments where the monster manifests as similarly real.
BILLY: Yes that’s right, at the London Film Festival in October Chris on stage reminded me of this! I’d forgotten I kept telling him to ‘Drain it out!’. In fairness to Chris, by day two of the shoot he’d completely clicked the realism we were after and loved that we didn’t just want an echo of his earlier famous performances.
* I was very impressed with Max Records in the film -he seems like he has a bright future ahead of him. It is a pretty intense role for a young actor -how difficult was it to cast?
BILLY: Well we met Max when he was 13 and gave him the role then, even though he was too young. He’s incredible and when we met him it was immediately obvious why Spike Jonze had plucked him from nowhere to play Max in Where The Wild Things Are.
TODD: To walk the line of a diagnosed sociopath, who also has normal levels of teenage angst, whilst dealing with the corpses coming through your single mum’s mortuary, plus being conflicted about the attention you’re having from girls, and withstanding the desire to react to the bullies could easily have gone into cliche. Instead Max found the centre of John Wayne Cleaver and held onto it even when (as has to happen) we shot out of order. This is why he was rightly nominated in the Best Actor category at this year’s British Independent Film Awards. Max is a also a fan of Dartmoor, having stayed here a couple of times. The outdoors is a place where he can leave behind the characters he so deftly plays and explore the Wild Things in nature. He also rather likes the ale to be had in the local hostelry.
* What projects are you working on next? Are further collaborations on the cards?
BILLY: Yes, we’re chatting all the time about quirky, odd ideas. Always great to brainstorm with Todd over a beer.
TODD: I think there’s something in the beer!
* Finally, what advice would you give to other filmmakers based in the Westcountry?
BILLY: I think really there are few excuses today, you can shoot, record sound and edit to a professional level very cheaply. So the key is as ever, story. After that directing is two simple questions: where do I put the camera? And what do I say to the actors? That’s your job. Just get out there and shoot. As Beckett said ‘Try. Fail. Try again. Fail better.’ You learn every time. Years ago, I guess you’d have had to go to London from Devon/Cornwall. I ended up there from Cork. But today you have it all at your fingertips via the internet. If you’re a more experienced shooter then I would put in a plea to try shooting some film. It’s special, and can make your film special. Digital is here to stay but it’s worth experimenting with 16mm and 35mm, before it’s all gone. Labs like iDailies near London will be pleased to help, I’m sure. Personally I love it.
TODD: The boundaries are only the ones you build.
The creature shots we needed for the conclusion of I Am Not A Serial Killer required a scale version of the mortuary set, so we built it in Billy’s garage. I’ve built creatures and puppets that have been performed across the world, before millions of people, from materials supplied by the local hardware stores.
Put down the glass and get on with it.
I Am Not A Serial Killer is out now on DVD via Bulldog Film Distribution.