June 11, 2019
This week is the 3rd episode in 4-part Flatpack Festival special. Flatpack is a really inventive and subversive event that happens in Birmingham every year, screening a whole host of films and art forms that you might not have seen before. And in that vein, I was really chuffed to get to speak to this week’s guest Sima Gonsai, who is an independent film director and producer specialising in screen dance.
Screen dance is a movement-based arts form that combines cinematography with choreography in its storytelling. Sima will do a much better job of explaining what that is and how she came to be involved in it. This year at Flatpack she programmed an event called Merce Cunningham at 100: Innovations in Screen Dance, in which she explored the ongoing conversation between dance, film and digital technology through a brief history of Merce Cunningham, a pioneering contemporary dancer and an early innovator in splicing performance with projected imagery.
So I’ll admit I was slightly out of my comfort zone for this interview, because visual arts is something I know next to nothing about and I really was asking questions without much understanding of what Screen Dance was, but it turned out to be really fascinating. We talk a lot of about funding, about being an independent filmmaker and what that looks like, as well as how Sima’s career changed after she had her daughter, so I really appreciate Sima’s honesty there. I think Sima is testament to the fact that you can make and screen your work even if it doesn’t fit neatly into a category or operates outside the mainstream.
June 4, 2019
This week, in the 2nd edition of my 4-part Flatpack Film Festival special, I speak to Amy Smart, who manages Flatpack's year round activity under the banner of Film Hub Midlands, a BFI-funded project working with the Film Audience Network to help build a more thriving film community in the region.
It was a really energetic and fun interview, and I can absolutely see why last week’s guest Alex Jackson chose Amy as someone whom she found inspirational. We talk about how she started out in the film industry, why her job makes her feel like James Garner in The Great Escape, what happens when you programme something that only 4 people show up to and what her proudest programming moment is.
I hope you enjoy it!
May 28, 2019
This episode, along with the next three are quite special in that I recorded them during and at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham, an annual event that takes place in venues across the city where recurring themes include animation, music, artists’ film, archive discoveries, offbeat shorts for kids and live cinema. The Flatpack folk are firm believers in creating a sense of occasion and exploring the fertile territory where film bumps up against other artforms, and also showing people things they might not otherwise have seen.
So thank you very much to the wonderful festival, who helped facilitate these interviews with just a handful of the really smart and thoughtful women who helped create and curate the wickedly eclectic programme.
Kicking things off is my interview with Alex Jackson. Alex is a BFI NETWORK Talent Executive for the Midlands, which basically means she discovers and nurtures filmmakers in that region. Before taking up this post Alex managed Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre’s learning and talent programme. She has also lead on other national projects, including Access Cinema, which works to establish comfortable and enjoyable cinema environments for people with disabilities.
She was involved in Flatpack’s talent camp a one-day training event for new and emerging talent looking to make narrative fiction short films. It was a real pleasure to meet Alex and hear how committed she is to make cinema and filmmaking as accessible as possible, and also to chat about the ins and outs of filmmaking outside of London.
May 21, 2019
This week I speak to cinematographer Rachel Clark. Rachel’s CV is incredibly impressive. She started out in the industry over ten years ago, working as a runner on the likes of This Is England (2006), and progressed into the camera department where she worked as a trainee on Control (2007). In the years after that Rachel worked as clapper loader on lots of British indie films such as Bronson, Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights as well huge blockbusters such World War Z and Captain America: Civil War. As a first assistant camera assistant she travelled across the US with Cinematographer Robbie Ryan and director Andrea Arnold for the road movie American Honey (2016) and has worked around the world on many 2nd Unit action sequences: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2016), & Black Panther (2018) among them.
Rachel was the 2nd Unit Director of Photography on director Sarah Gavron’s latest film Girl Untitled and has just completed photography on the feature film Concrete Plans. I felt very honoured to lure Rachel away from the camera to the microphone and basically ask lots of basic questions about what cinematography actually is.
We cover lots of interesting topics such as the physicality and energy the role requires, what Rachel does in her downtime between jobs and how she stays motivated, and what she learnt from working with Robbie Ryan. I hope you enjoy the interview.
May 14, 2019
This week I go down rabbit hole of music supervision with Jen Moss. Jen is the director of music supervision at Warner Music, where she acts as the go-to person in helping directors establish musical soundscapes for their films within the budgetary constraints set out by the producers. This includes searching for and sourcing commercial and production music, commissioning bespoke tracks and negotiating clearance fees, among other things.
Her credits include American Animals, I, Tonya, Calibre, Beast and Prevenge and Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love and I had a whale of time learning about this whole other aspect of creating and designing memorable scenes in movies.
May 7, 2019
I’m really excited for the episode this week as its completely new territory for me! I interviewed costume designer Ruka Johnson, who has a really varied CV across features, shorts, television and music videos. Her credits include Obey, a film that dramatises the 2011 London Riots, award-winning short film We Love Moses (produced by OG - original guest - Georgia Goggin) and music videos for Blood Orange and Lily Allen! She also worked on Sarah Gavron’s film Girl Untitled, which shrewd listeners will know has popped up on the pod quite a bit!
Hands down my favourite part of this chat is when Ruka says she wants to be really successful and completely owns it. I think its always really refreshing, perhaps sadly so, to hear a young woman claim that as their ambition. Even if you’re thinking it, we’re often told you have to keep your intentions on the down-low, and to be gracious and surprised and grateful when that success does find you. But its always super important to say what you want, to go after it and not feel shame about doing that, or shame about having success and wealth and creative fulfilment as a priority, so yeah that was cool to hear Ruka say and the rest of the chat is just as inspiring tbh. So enjoy!
April 30, 2019
This week I spoke to Catherine Slater, an associate producer at The Imaginarium, the production outfit founded by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish, and a BAFTA-nominated producer, whose first short film Wale was shortlisted for the Oscars.
It was brilliant to hear about Catherine’s journey from assistant to associate producer, as well as how she balanced a full-time job with the full-time job of producing a short film.
April 23, 2019
For this episode I spoke to Chloe Trayner, Festival Director at the Open City Docs and undoubtedly one of hardest working people I have encountered!
Chloe is responsible for the direction of the festival as well as industry programming, partnerships and development and she has also worked as a film & events programmer and producer with organisations such as BFI Future Film Festival, Overnight Film Festival, UnderWire Festival and Bertha DocHouse.
We talk about also these various positions she has held, as well as how she managed being freelance, the state of documentary funding in the UK and what she loves most about her job.
April 16, 2019
BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Harry Wootliff joins me on the podcast this week to discuss her transition from acting to writing and directing, the experience of showing her short film at Cannes and the rewards and challenge of directing her first feature - Only You - which will be released by Curzon in the summer.
We really dive into the writing process, from coming up with ideas, to writing good dialogue and what it means to be a visual storyteller. Definitely keep an eye out for the film (which stars Laia Costa and Josh O'Connor) when it hits UK cinemas!
April 9, 2019
I dip my toe back into the world of distribution with the delightful Síle Culley, a Theatrical Sales Executive at Altitude,whose recent films include The Florida Project, Loveless and A Private War.
Síle started her career as a film production manager in Dublin, before attending NFTS and moving in distribution at Pulse Films. She then ventured into the Event Cinema world, before joining Altitude in 2017.
We talked about Síle's recent trip to Berlin for their talents programme, the importance of peer support and how to stay focused on your career ambitions, as well as what it's like working in the male-dominated world of sales...