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E I D IN

R u s h e s / R e l e a s e s / Fe s t i v a l B u z z / Wo r l d C i n e m a

National

HandsOn Your Monthly DIY Guide

DIRECTOR RYAN OWEN’S MONEY SAVING TIPS PLUS: FILM BOOKS YOU NEED TO READ

THE ESSENTIAL INDEPENDENT AND INTERNATIONAL FILM MAGAZINE

est The INdurance T

GROWING PAINS

Can Indie auteurs handle the spot-ridden anxiety of teen films?

FREE!

ACTION

We made a film in just 12hrs!

DVD

...with this issue

OPPORTUNITY ROCKS

Using music videos as a filmmaking stepping stone

3-MINUTE WONDERS

How Channel 4 opened the door to short filmmakers

ACTION! TEN DEAD MEN producer Phil Hobden shows you how to make explosive films on a shoestring budget

April 2008  Issue 3, £2.95

LIGHTS...CAMERA...


April ’08 #3

INDIEContents

Welcome to...

INDIENational

Editorial

W

ith the grace and broken skin of an extra in George Romero’s latest offering we are back once again, thankfully without the thirst for blood and insides on the outsides. However, we do review Romero’s bloody carnage even if we aren’t zombies ourselves. What we do have is an eager mind for film happenings and practical advice that can get you out their shooting your own films and the like. For those hankering for the latest goings on in all things filmic head to Rushes (page 4-7) and catch up on the global goings on. But beware the throat-stomping story that follows on as IndieNational gives the low down on the Indie Action scene (page 8-13) and leading lights Modern Life? Productions. And then we only go and try to make our own action flick; check out the attempt to change the face of Indie Action forever! This month in Hands On we chat to indie auteur Ryan Owens (page 16), who is so chock full of tips he may as well be called PG...I apologise. Anyway, the Lancastrian filmmaker gives the low-down on not busting the bank, as well as an article on how to make a poster which will get people scrambling and clawing to see your film (page 18). Elsewhere, another butt-numbing film-a-thon sees how the indie scene handles the spot-ridden turmoil of teenage life (page 22-23). We also take a look at the “Three Minute Wonder” phenomenon where Channel 4 give the best and brightest of young British talent a prime time slot to showcase their skills (page 20-21). That’s not to mention our world cinema coverage, looking at the Nigerian and French film scenes respectively (page 26-27); our extensive review compendium (starting on page 28); and our Final Cut this issue is about the greatest film ever shot in Swansea’s heady smog – Twin Town! Fuck aye!

Chris Sloley, Editor

Editor Chris Sloley

Deputy Editor Andy Brown

Features Editor Huw Baines

News Editor Josh Gardner

Online Editors Cat Hackforth / Colin Scott

Photography Laurence Edmondson

Sub-Editor Sam Wong

Production Editor: Pete Hayman Matt Elton

Contributors Charlie Duff / ElizabethAnne Grummitt / Ewen Hosie / Bethan Price

Write to us: INDIENational Cardiff School of Journalism, The Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3NB UK

/Contents

12

26

>>On the cover 08

08

Lights, Camera... Action

Ass-kicking indie filmmaker Phil Hobden on creating Hong Kong action on a budget

20 3-Minute Wonder

Channel 4 is leading the way by giving short films prime-time access.Here’s how to get involved

32 FREE! ACTION DVD Your free copy of INDIENational action classic Double Deader

Every month

22

The INdurance Test: Growing Pains

33

Opportunity Rocks

How some of indie film’s leading lights have honed their skills in music videos

Edward Norton, cash boosts for indie cinemas and mumblecore make it into our news section

15 Hands On

This month

Can independent films handle the spot-ridden anxiety of teen films?

24

04 Rushes

12 Calling The Shots INDIENational’s attempt to put theory into practice and make an action epic

Missing your DVD?

Don’t fret dear reader, simply send a self addressed envelope marked “IndieNationalDVD” to the address on the left and we’ll dispatch you a copy of our masterpiece, subject to availability. Alternatively go to the IndieNational website at journalism.cf.ac.uk/ indienational to watch the film now...

14 Cube Cinema

We review the tardis-like Cube cinema hidden in Bristol

28 Cinema Releases The freshest indie cuts Diary of the Dead / The Other Boleyn Girl/ Lars and the Real Girl / The Edge of Heaven / The Band’s Visit / The Cottage

30 DVD

Indie choices for your night in

the Wild / Planet Terror / Brick Lane / 26 Blagger’s Guide to Into Interview / Resevoir Dogs French Cinema 32 World Reviews A bite-sized guide to the pictures and people who make up Gallic cinema

The best global film picks I Do / The Serpent / Reprise / Oldboy

16 Ryan Owen The director gives you his tips for getting that much-needed cash for your film project 17 Poster Boys We explore the continuing role of the onesheet in getting films noticed 18 Filmmaking books Raid your local bookstores for the must-have guides on making your own films 18 Lessons Learned Sam Raimi and the art of learning film through watching with your audience

19 Calendar

A look at the latest film happenings

33 The Final Cut

You mean you haven’t seen...? We hop down the M4 corridor and revisit Twin Town

INDIENational • 03


INDIERushes

INDIERushes

BIG BOYS MOVING IN ON UK INDIE FILMS

G

oldcrest Independent, the indie arm of Goldcrest Films, has teamed up with Orange Entertainment, forming Orange Film Finance to mine the potential of British independent films. The new company plans to use the financial clout of the Los Angeles based Orange organisation to finance productions, and then use the in-house marketing and production expertise at Goldcrest to improve the quality of the finished film before promoting it. Orange has already clinched deals with both European distributor Indie Circle and Sandrew Metronome of Scandinavia. This

BIG COMPANY INVOLVEMENT:

INDIE CINEMAS TO GET CASH BOOST

will enable a much broader scope for them to foster the independent film community and give widespread distribution to some of the best indie films. In 2005, Orange was the first company to cotton on to the potential of Brokeback Mountain which would go on to be a worldwide success. Making independent films is never easy, it can be a stressful and difficult affair that only gets harder the more ambitious you become. Money is always going to be an issue, but many indie directors would prefer to make the best of what they had rather than risk the interfering of a big financial backer. By teaming up with a

“WILL BIG COMPANY INVOLVEMENT BE GOOD OR BAD FOR UK INDIE FILMS?” Charlie Duff:

YES

T The Screen on Baker Street is one of seven cinemas to fall under Everyman’s ownership

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mall UK cinema chain Screen Cinemas is to be bought out by fellow indie franchise Everyman Media Group. Everyman focuses on independent cinemas that have a lounge-style atmosphere. In 2006 the company received £100 million worth of investment and has since started to expand. Screen Cinemas, which has seven sites in London and the Thames Valley, offers a similar niche service in its renovated Tudor buildings. The takeover will provide a cash boost to allow further expansion, bringing unique independent cinemas to more people in the UK. 04 • INDIENational

respected name like Goldcrest Independent, Orange hopes to prove their credibility and commitment to independent film. Indie filmmakers got a further boost this week with news that indie distributor Revolver Entertainment has joined with publishing powerhuse Pan Macmillan to jointly market independent films with book tie-ins. This will provide greater financial clout for avertising, it also gives Revolver access to new marketing avenues. “This new partnership will allow us to call on Pan Macmillan’s extensive knowledge and contacts with booksellers,” Revolver director Justin Marciano told Variety.

INDIENational

TALKING HEADS

he UK suffers from filmmakers being held back from making better pictures because of a lack of cash. People are funding films by taking out personal credit cards and using inferior equipment to save money. Is it any wonder many of these films, which have great potential, end up on YouTube and MySpace being watched by the filmmaker’s mates rather than being shown in cinemas to a real audience? This financing could be great news for talented filmmakers struggling with next to no budget. The skills they already have will be given a free rein to reach full potential with professional actors, better gear and more time to shoot and edit. As for selling out, it seems unlikely that funding is going to force the films to cover themselves in placement ads and change the ending. At the end of the day, money is money, wherever it may comes from, whether it is your maxed-out credit card or Orange Film Finance.

V

Cat Hackforth:

NO

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his can’t be good news for indie films. Once you start dipping into the big boys’ wallets, it’s a slippery slope to embracing their “creative” input and letting funding dictate editorial decisions. This will be a significant threat to the freedom and innovation of independent cinema. Of course budding filmmakers need funding, but there is help available – directors don’t need to sell out to finance their work. The UK Arts Council provides grants for projects, and the UK Film Council will help with financing pretty much any part of cinematography. There are many local initiatives that give filmmakers access to lottery funding, including the Media Agency for Wales and Screen South. Many small cinemas hold open screenings where you can just turn up, film in hand, and have it shown that night. It’s more work than handing over the reins to a big player, but it’s more rewarding to take things into your own hands.

Have your say on the forum at: journalism.cf.ac.uk/indienational/forum/phorum.php

Photo by: mi.a, Philippe Leroyer

Edited by Josh Gardner

Photos by: Kaustav Bhattacharya, Stewf

/rushes

Many filmmakers struggle to secure the funding to realise their cinematic visions

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WHAT’S THE

SCORE?

INDIENational’s look at film soundtracks. This month: THERE WILL BE BLOOD

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everal recent releases have featured pleasingly off-kilter scores. From No Country For Old Men’s sparse ambience to Lars and the Real Girl’s blend of acoustic and electronic instruments, there’s much more going on than simply signposting to the audience what they should be feeling. The There Will be Blood soundtrack, like the film it accompanies, is at times hard going. The opening track, Wide Open Spaces signals the determination and loneliness of its title character through a deep, sonorous string line and atonal chord progressions. Composer Jonny Greenwood (above) has often expressed his interest in “wrong” string sounds and here he explores their full range, from sweeping scales to nagging staccato. Echoing The Shining’s use of classical music to represent something out of place, it’s hardly a relaxing listen but worthy of attention in it’s own right.

T

“Do I need insurance to film a fight scene?”

his question can be answered in one of two ways: yes if you are choreographing the fight yourself, no if it is a legitimate sporting event. If you intend to capture a legally sanctioned boxing match or perhaps an impromptu bust-up in a Sunday league football match then go ahead, although you may need to secure the rights to the footage if there is other TV coverage. But if you are initiating the fight for film then it needs to be risk assessed by an insurance company. For your own fight scenes the action has to be choreographed to the back teeth and you have to ensure

to that every precaution possible has been taken to make sure your performers are not going to be harmed. “It’s your duty to ensure that nobody is at risk in the scene,” explains Turul Brown of IMS Film Insurance. However, Turul highlights that getting a fight scene insured isn’t the easiest thing. “Not many insurance companies will touch it if you use the word “fight”, so be careful how you word it when seeking a quote.” Formore INDIENational’s attempt at an action For info, visit own filminsurance.co.uk film, turn to page 12...

News Briefs News Briefs News Briefs News Briefs News Briefs

Groundbreaking independent distribution company Truly Indie celebrates its third birthday this month. The company offers an intriguing alternative to mainstream distribution, allowing filmmakers to retain rights to their films while securing limited theatrical release. This allows them to generate a buzz that can help them avoid straight to DVD limbo.The company’s biggest success has been the award-winning India/US crossover comedy Outsourced in 2006.

The Tribeca Film Festival has responded to criticism of last year’s event and scaled back its screening list. The festival has reduced the number of pictures by 20% and brought in big name directors such as Nanni Moretti, Shane Meadows and Declan Recks. In addition the films shown will focus on directorial rookies and features that highlight various aspects of youth.

Edward Norton has taken time out from being the Incredible Hulk to commission a documentary about US presidential hopeful Barack Obama and his campaign for nomination. Norton, who is currently shopping the feature to a variety of distributors, funded the picture through his own production company, Class 5 Films, which was previously involved in Down In the Valley and The Painted Veil.

The Untouchables screenwriter David Mamet was honoured at the ShoWest film festival last month. He was handed the Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at ShoWest’s Opening Day Luncheon. Mamet, who also scripted The Postman Always Rings Twice and Ronin, will also be screening his latest film, Redbelt, at this year’s festival.

The French animated film Persepolis has been banned by the Lebanese government. The film tells the story of an outspoken Iranian girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution and won the Jury Prize at Cannes and the award for Best Foreign Film at the Independent Spirit Awards. Lebanese authorities banned the film in order to avoid offending pro-Iranian sections of parliament.

The UK Film Council has announced that it is joining forces with National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to help British independent filmmakers. The £500,000 scheme aims to encourage producers to experiment with new distribution models, particularly online digital distribution. The Digital Innovation in Film scheme will seek to pair film companies with specialist media partners in order to try and innovate new methods of reaching audiences. INDIENational • 05


INDIERushes

Edited by Charlie Duff

MUMBLECORE: SUCCESS AT SXSW

Photos by: Miss Goose

Director Ang Lee has thrown his support behind censured actress Tang Wei

Photos by: aavarnum, chloe004

WORLD NEWS

INDIERushes

LEEDS YOUNG PEOPLE’S FILM INDIENational FESTIVAL: 27 MARCH-4 APRIL Showing on the...

projector this month

FESTIVAL WATCH

These are the clips, trailers and films that have turned heads over the past month here at INDIENational Towers

O

LUST, CAUTION STAR CAUTIONED FOR LUST

T

he Chinese government has ordered media outlets in Beijing and Hong Kong to remove any adverts or news stories about Tang Wei, due to her controversial role in the Ang Lee’s thriller Lust, Caution. The film has fallen foul of the increasingly media-conscious Chinese government due to some of the sexual and political content which has been deemed “unpatriotic”. In the film, set against the backdrop of World War II-era Shanghai, Tang plays a student activist who seduces a Japaneseallied Chinese intelligence official to pave the way for his assassination. Unknown before Lust, Caution, the 28year-old actress Tang shot to fame in the Chinese-speaking world with her portrayal of an undercover dissident who falls too deep into a sexually charged relationship with the enemy.

Upon release, the film was well received around the world and won a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. Director Ang Lee, edited the movie to appease Chinese censors and it went on to became national box office hit. Many Chinese are still sensitive about the Japanese military’s atrocities during the 1937 invasion, and films involving the subject are usually censored or banned. The most recent Hollywood effort to fall foul of this sensitivity was Memoirs of a Geisha, which was not released in the country. Ang Lee is shocked by the ban. “I am very disappointed that Tang Wei is being hurt by this decision,” he told the Associated Press. However he has made it clear he is standing by his leading lady. “We will do everything we can to support her in this difficult time,” he said.

TAX THREAT FOR MEXICAN FILMMAKERS

P

lans to reform taxation in Mexico could damage the country’s next generation of directors, who currently recieve beneficial tax breaks. In recent years Mexican filmmakers have become the go-to-guys for cutting edge cinema, From Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) to Inarritu (Babel). Even Harry Potter snagged one in the form of Alfonso Cuaron, but the Mexican domestic industry has always suffered due to this trend. That has slowly started to change as a tax incentive for investment has helped spur companies to invest in film projects. In the mid-1990s, Mexico was putting out a handful of films. Last year, 48 out of 74 feature-length films received a total of nearly $50 million in funding thanks to corporate investors. Due to the benefits for the investor, they are not afraid to finance a large number of films from first-time helmers 06 • INDIENational

and produce them through untried and untested production companies. But new taxation changes could stifle this emerging industry. President Felipe Calderon’s efforts at tax reform could soon eliminate the incentive on which the industry thrives.“There is going to be a weeding-out process,” say Gabriel Ripstein, head of Columbia’s local production office. “It’s hard to compete if you don’t have the muscle of a major studio.” Monica Lozano Serrano, head of Altavista Films as well as Mexico’s independent producers association, says filmmakers will need to make a concerted lobbying effort. “If the tax incentive isn’t maintained, we could be in a very delicate position,” Lozano says. Hopefully Mexican cinema can continue to thrive and generate more of the acting and directorial talent that litters the international scene.

nly three years after the movement first started, the “mumblecore” filmmakers have returned to the South by South West (SXSW) film festival in Austin, Texas, where they first got noticed. The name is given to young filmmakers like Andrew Bujalski and Joe Swanberg, who saw the growth of cheap, good quality film equipment as a chance to produce fresh, raw films that were completely different from traditional indie fare. The name “mumblecore” comes from the low budget, no-frills mindset of these filmmakers. Early productions had no budgets for location shooting and very little money to edit, so chatter could often be heard in the background. As a result they were often dismissed as amateurish. Some directors actively embraced this badge of honour remaining fiercely committed to producing the autobiographical relationship films on which the genre was based. Others, however, were determined not to push the boundaries. This year the movement returns to SXSW on the back of its first big sale, the Duplass brothers’ horror picture Baghead, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. The sale is a big coup for SXSW, which has traditionally been seen as the poor relation of the other big US festivals. “It’s always been a tough situation, because Sundance obviously gets first pick of the new American independent features,” SXSW producer Matt Dentler told Variety. Instead they switched focus: “Innovative, worthwhile films that are perhaps a little out of the ordinary.”

JORDANIAN FILM FOR EURO RELEASE

T

he first Jordanian film to be distributed outside of the Middle East and North America has been acquired for European distribution by Amsterdambased company Fortissimo Film. Captain Abu Raed won the World Cinema Audience and Best Actor awards at this year’s Sundance and this has led to Fortissmo jumping on the chance to distribute it to Europe. Jordanian-born director Amin Matalqa’s touching film was so well received that it ranks among Fortissmo’s previous hits such as abuse-based redemption story Mysterious Skin and Macaulay Culkin’s bonkers raver flick Party Monster.

Angry German Kid: Football Manager What’s better than seeing an inaudibly angry German kid tear his hair out while his computer loads? Having some cheeky chappy put on false subtitles that make out our angry friend is playing Football Manager as an underperforming Crystal Palace. “Danny Dichio!! He’s about 60 and has a wooden leg!” http://snipurl.com/220sv

Donkeypunch - Viral Campaign People who have seen it at Sundance love it; those who haven’t are up in arms about the film’s lashings of sex and violence. First time director Olly Blackburn has set the internet alight with this clever marketing campaign. The film is based around a tragic accident on a Mediterranean yacht, and the battles between the survivors as to what to do with the body. http://snipurl.com/220sx

“I’m the Juggernaut Bitch!” This Supafly Youtube take off of the XMen cartoons has been causing giggles at INDIENational towers all week. Altogether now…“Shut the fuck up Charles!” http://snipurl.com/220sz

Shining Light - Trailer Director Martin Scorsese returns to the world of the music documentary with his film of the Rolling Stones’ ‘A Bigger Bang’ tour. Is this The Last Waltz for this generation? http://snipurl.com/220t2

Mike Huckabee: Chuck Norris approved We’re not Republican lovers at IN but…you just don’t fuck with Chuck. http://snipurl.com/220t5

The achievements of the best new filmmaking talents will be celebrated in Leeds this month

N

ow in its ninth year, the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival will once again welcome unseen films made by international and homegrown directors. The festival aims to showcase the best films being made by and for young people, and even runs workshops so budding auteurs can dabble in filmmaking for themselves. Festivities start on 27 March with a showing of much-praised, semi-spoof Son of Rambow. Then begins a week of youthorientated film, filmmaking advice and general merriment. It’s not often you get to use the word merriment, so why not? Other films on show include Danny Boyle’s heart-warmer Millions, about a couple of well-meaning kids who stumble across a million pounds on some train tracks. The seminal Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the brilliantly named The Girl Who Slept Through Time are just a taste of the other films on offer. “What about the workshops?” I hear you cry. Well, all facets of the film industry are represented. From animation to refining your acting skills, the workshops even

include the outlandish sounding Superhero Science Class and The Art of Iron Man Masterclass. The Superhero Science Class looks at superpowers that exist in nature and the physics of your favourite cartoon heroes while the Masterclass, rather than teaching you how to be John McLane, will feature Marvel comics cover artist Adi Granov talking through his illustrations and work on the upcoming Iron Man movie. The festival also features the National Young Filmmakers’ Award, which gives up-and-coming young bucks their first opportunity to shine on the festival scene. The competition captures the festival’s ethos of celebrating short films made by children and young people (up to 19 years old), as well as those made for them. The best films will be entered into a competition where a jury comprising of young people and industry professionals will award £250 prizes to the winners in two age categories: under 14s and 15-19 years old. For more info go to: www.leedsfilm.com/newsite/ INDIENational • 07


ur e The Featat tion Presen

k l Ta lms. Action fi tional Towers Na ig At INDIE em for their b th e fight m o s e we love w ns and a s explosio t do indie film Bu ng scenes. ss playi e n i s u b y have an ig boys? t… eb with th finds ou R E N D AR JOSH G

INDIEFeature Photos courtesy of: Modern Life? Productions

’ n i t h g Fi INDIEFeature

H

ollywood blockbusters are often dismissed for being mindless carousels of violence, explosions and punning. Yet it is easily forgotten that some of the best and most imitated action scenes are drawn from great independent films. Hong Kong has traditionally been a hotbed of some of the best on-screen exploits. John Woo’s Hard Boiled, arguably the greatest action flick of all time, set new heights for choreographed combat sequences. The famous hospital fight, where Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung fight off hordes of attackers, is one long, hand held shot that never fails to entertain. It’s two minutes and 42 seconds of ballistic, visceral action and set new standards for what fighting scenes could achieve. But impressive action is easy with millions of dollars to play with; can you get that same thrill with the most threadbare of budgets? Brighton based production outfit Modern Life? seem to think so. In 2004, Phil Hobden and his long time directorial collaborator Ross Boyask broke the mould with their first production. Left for Dead, a home-grown martial arts revenge thriller, reflected their distinctly un-English passions.

Tuerrn... ov

Ten Dead Men: a rush of blood to the head 08 • INDIENational

INDIENational • 09


’ n i t Figh alk T INDIEFeature

INDIEFeature

Ten Dead Men’s Brendan Carr asserts his authorit-ah

THE BEGINNINGS “I have been a massive film fan as long as I can remember,” says Hobden. “When I was eight I was fed a diet of Sam Raimi and George Romero from one brother and Loren Avedon, Van Damme and Bruce Lee from the other. From that point I was hooked.” This passion led to the pair setting about making their own entry into action folklore. The result was Left for Dead, a stylish revenge film set in the fictional city of Hope. Despite having a budget of only £10,000 the film was favourably received and was distributed in the UK, USA and over 20 other countries. “Popular logic says you can’t make a film for that kind of money. But you can,” insists Phil. “The kind of film you make depends on how creative you are with what you have. It also depends on how good your team is.” This team ethos can be seen in the stylish and uncompromising fight scenes, which were choreographed by local martial arts guru Andy Scriven. Andy is a master 10 • INDIENational

of the Korean martial art Soo Bahk Do and the team admit that getting him on board helped inject the film with real authenticity. Such an attitude has paid off before. In 2003 Taiwanese action film Ong Bak achieved international acclaim as a blatant example of the “show-off” action genre. Fight scenes were choreographed by Muay Thai experts Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa and all the actors were martial arts professionals. This gave the fights a spectacular, realistic and genuine edge that exhilarated audiences. Phil acknowledges that many components make up a successful film but insists it ultimately comes down to sheer hard graft. “I knew [the film] could do well but it was in our hands to ensure it did. It was very much the work we did that got the film to where it is” he says. By means of an example Phil describes an average working day: “I work 18 hours. Day job then film work, often the two together. All I do is make sure we are at the top of our game

in every department. If we can get a buzz, whatever we have to do, then it will only ever benefit our profile and pocket.” THE SOPHOMORE EFFORT High on confidence the pair set about working on their next feature, Fixers, but funding was unexpectedly withdrawn at the last minute. Phil and Ross returned to their roots and their original DIY ethic, using the money left over from Left for Dead to fund their next feature, Ten Dead Men. Two years had passed since Left for Dead and the pair wanted to make a new film, and fast. This attitude was reflected in the no-nonsense production; they came up with a title and an idea, and quickly dispatched them to writer and friend Chris Regan, who turned in several drafts in record time. Within six weeks they were off. The bane of independent action films is often budgetary constraints which limit the scope of what can be achieved. However, there are notable examples of indie films

THE FUTURE While they are doing a fine job of carving out a niche of self-funded, unique, British action films Phil is constantly looking to raise his game. “We [Britain] don’t make the right types of movies. We give $10 million to Working Title every time Richard Curtis opens up his notepad. We bring in US directors or talent to make ‘British’ movies but what we don’t do is develop the considerable talent we have.” Using the talent and resources is something that the Modern Life? team seem to excel at. “To be honest this type of film will never be bettered on this level of budget” he insists. “We have a cage fight at Wembley in front of 4,000 people, a finale of epic Hollywood proportions. We can’t and shouldn’t try and do this again on this level as I honestly believe we have squeezed every cent of value out of what we have.” IN For more info about Modern Life? and their upcoming projects check out www.mod-life.net

Share and share alike Ten Dead Men aren’t just producing some kick-ass action movies. They may also have the future of cinema sorted

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hile scrimping and scraping together funding for their films, Phil and Ross have shown a remarkable concern for their fellow filmmakers. During the filming of Left for Dead, the team produced a documentary 10,000 Cigarettes: The Making of a British Action Movie, a blow by blow account of the gruelling two and a half year shoot. They wanted to show people what the reality of making a film like this actually was. “Making Left for Dead was fun and I think that comes across in the documentary” says Phil. “It was also hard and so at the same point it allows people getting into this industry to look at the truth of what making a film like this is like.”

Bringin’ the pain PHIL HOBDEN’s top tips for making great indie action films

#1

Focus on your inspiration

“Filmmaking should never be just a job. It should be a passion, a desire, a flame in your stomach, [I need] to have that feeling every time I step on set because sometimes it’s the only thing that gets you through.”

#2

Expect to over-run

#3

Don’t waste money

“[The Ten Dead Men shoot] was planned for two months working mostly at weekends and evenings. In actuality it lasted over 14 months. But that’s what happens when you pay little or nothing to your team; it means you are at the mercy of their paid work.” “We don’t do creature comforts. Sometimes just having running water is a luxury to us. So if you turn up expecting trailers, assistants, makeup rooms and hours between set ups you’re on the wrong film.”

But they don’t plan to stop there, as Phil elaborates, “My plan is to create a Roger Corman style studio where we give money to new, young filmmakers – say £10,000 a project – not a lot but enough to make a modest film, and allow them to make their first feature project. We will sell these and fund future projects, including our own. “Now if we can sell them through our own companies and not pay commission that’s an even bigger plus as it will mean we have more money to put back into other projects and other filmmakers. It will mean we keep creative control of what we do and help develop future filmmakers in a way that was never open to us. In essence we will be creating a self-funding genre industry.”

#4

It’s all about marketing

#5

Shoot HD

Marketing is the great equaliser. It’s here you can make a $100,000 movie look like a $100 million movie. If [you] get it right, like we did on Left for Dead, it could make the difference between being sold and not. Between being a hit or not.”

“When we shot Left for Dead the biggest issue sales people and buyers had was that it’s a DV movie. Even with a good visual grade it still went against us. But with HD technology so accessible and so cheap now, it really is a medium where you can compete.”

#6

Work with professionals

“Get a bloody good fight director like we did with Jude Poyer and Andy Scriven. Fight scenes where you use break-aways, or smash stuff up look great because it’s added value. When you can see mats laid out to protect people or bin bags so they don’t get their best suit dirty you kind of wonder how serious people are about this.”

fa

! e c

Ke ep at re te ad tip mp ing s t at for in to pu Ind pr tti ieN ac ng a tic th tio e. es nal .. e ’s

Photos courtesy of: Modern Life? Productions

e k a m u o y m e l v i fi t f a o e r d c ” n e i w v k o a h e h h “T epends on what you en d b o H l i d are with Ph you

looking bigger and better than their budget should allow, such as Pitch Black, the film that was both the start and pinnacle of Vin Diesel’s career. With its cleverly done CG special effects, barnstorming performances and heart pumping, claustrophobic action, it was dubbed the new Alien, all delivered for a fraction of the budget. The Modern Life? team bring a similar mindset to their productions and with budgets so tight, they resorted to three words: beg, borrow and steal. “What we couldn’t pay for we begged. What we couldn’t get by begging we borrowed or, especially with locations just stole the time,” Phil remembers. This doesn’t mean that they were willing to scrimp on action. They looked to friends and acquaintances who could offer locations, cars and props that could be used at minimum cost, sometimes creating whole new scenes to incorporate new shooting opportunities. They believe this attitude adds to what their films can achieve: “Because we are not wasting money on hairdressers or trailers, we can put what we have into something more tangible,” says Phil. “It’s about being creative with what you are given and what you have, simple as that.” Despite the rather unconventional approach to shooting, Phil believes the film turned out as well as it could have by making the most of its surroundings. The 2006 Jason Statham film Crank was a great exponent of this. The directors wanted a unique action film but couldn’t afford big location shoots. Instead they made the most of their Los Angeles surroundings, from back streets and disused warehouses, to hospitals, nightclubs and Chinatown. Phil is pleased with his similarly pragmatic approach, “We got most of what we planned. In fact, due to opportunities opening up as we went along, such as Wembley, Hove Dog Track and the Speedboat, we probably got more than we initially wanted. Okay so the New York footage never came off and the helicopter escaped us, but other than that, I think we achieved 99% of what we set out to do.”

, o N

t o n

e h t


CALLING THE SHOTS

At IN we like to think we practice what we preach. So we followed Phil Hobden’s tips and made our own action classic. There were just two catches, the film had to cost less than a fiver and be completed inside 12 hours...no problem, right? Words: Huw Baines

INDIEFeature Photos by: Laurence Edmondson, hoszi, stevengates

w ut No k o m ! ec fil chour

rain we had our first scene wrapped. As time progressed Andy grew into his role, giving Trent some mannerisms and actions that made him feel more like a real character rather than something that had been hastily cobbled together. The first major problem encountered was how to establish Trent’s backstory. We could have shot a flashback sequence given more time, but we were cutting it fine already. Intertitles would give us little narrative momentum, so a voiceover was given the greenlight. The plan was to have Trent walking into the building looking menacing while a voiceover explained his past. To get the voiceover it was back to stealing things from the tech office. We recorded the voiceover on a mobile phone before placing it over the opening sequence in the edit. The sound quality on the phone was less than that of the camera, but the easy

Direct action: when up against time, having a clear image of shots is vital

“His grisly death went off without a hitch, upping the gore count for extra bloody effect”

T FREE!

ACTION DVD

For your free copy of DOUBLE DEADER, just turn to the back page... 12 • INDIENational

aking inspiration from the great Hong Kong action films is hardly new. Taking inspiration from them and recreating it for less than a fiver is a little more unconventional. Using Phil Hobden’s tips we had our mission; keep it simple, keep the action coming and do it in style. Our first hurdle was the story. We quickly decided to follow the classic Hong Kong revenge template. Our hero was to be Trent Sherwood, ex Special Forces and now a journalist for a cross stitch magazine. Not one to take any shit, when his 11.30 Diet Coke break is ruined by someone stealing his chocolate bar, he wreaks havoc in pursuit of the thief. He crushes goons and ninjas in his relentless quest. Well, that was the idea. Our 12-hour time limit meant that we had to work fast, so we imposed a two take maximum for each scene. Shooting on a mini DV camera (borrowed from the mag’s tech office) meant that we had mobility, and could shoot quickly and easily. Getting a Hong Kong action movie onto the screens for less than a fiver was going to be difficult, so we decided to use what we had at our disposal. The early scenes and

final showdown would be shot in our office – doubling for Trent’s mag – with the IN staff standing in for the thugs that Trent battles. Trent would be played by Andy, IN deputy ed, and future action hero. The decision was made to shoot the middle sequence of the film (a chase and fight involving Trent and a wily ninja) first, meaning that it was outside in the rain for our intrepid crew. This meant that we shot out of sequence, but because of our tight time limit we had to act while there was still sufficient light. The location we had scouted for this scene was a large war memorial in the park adjacent to the office, providing some much needed atmosphere. Or so we hoped. Our two take rule was proving to be problematic for our non-acting, nonfighting cast. The importance of rehearsal was apparent from the start, as our fight scenes stuttered into life. We would have to make up for our lack of skills in the editing suite, a good reminder that there will be discrepancies between what you may expect to achieve, and what is actually possible. Still, our cast attacked their roles with gusto and after a mostly tantrum free hour in the

availability of mobiles to virtually everyone makes them a useful tool in the world of micro-budget filmmaking. With the voiceover in the bag, it was on to setting up the exposition of the story. These were the most static scenes, but would prove to be the most time consuming; several short, fiddly shots took their toll on our already frugal timeframe. Phil Hobden was right, keep it simple and keep the action coming. These expositional shots were crucial to the narrative (as sparse as it was!) and therefore had to be given proper care and attention. The action junkie in us was raring for a bit more fighting by the time they were in the can. These scenes did show the versatility of DV as a format for shooting video. With a quick switch from the outside action sequence to an interior shot, using such a small amount of kit gave us the ability to get the job done in the short timeframe we had. Following the expositional shots we had pencilled in two more fight sequences, one Smell my fist: the art of a good action film is getting a believable star

in a corridor, and the other back in the office. One was the climactic scene in which Trent exacts his revenge on the chocolate stealer, being played by Josh, the IN news ed. First up though was the corridor fight, set to include our special effects extravaganza. Well, some fake blood that we’d borrowed from a mate. The fake blood was required for the moment when a goon (played by feature writer Ewen) is killed by a pen to the eye from Trent. This was a remarkably easy scene to shoot, mainly because we had two game actors. Ewen was thrown all over the place and smacked about, all the while in a sleeveless t-shirt and 80s hair nightmare. His grisly death went off without a hitch, and we shot some useful cut-ins to be used in the later editing stage, upping the gore count for extra bloody effect. By the time the final scene’s shooting rolled around, we were flagging. The pace had to be kept up for just a while longer, a quick dash through the final confrontation.

Again the key was simplicity; a fight scene finished off with the bad guy’s head through a computer screen, what’s not to like? We got a few separate shots of the last image from different angles, with a view to editing them together in quick succession as a cutin. The idea was sound, but unfortunately our lack of equipment prohibited the stability required to pull off a shot standing on a table or crouching on the floor. Still, with the final scene in the can after five hours, we had made good time. Now we just had to edit the thing. Editing is a very time consuming facet of the filmmaking process, even with a comparatively small amount of footage. Our idea was to improve the footage by adding a few transitions, sound effects and music. We edited in I-Movie, and tried to keep it as no frills as possible. Getting music for a low budget film can be difficult, so we again turned to friends. Punk band Adequate Seven agreed to let us use their tracks, and the I-Movie bank of songs came in handy too. The footage was fairly easy to reassemble, and by adding a few well-placed music cues we had something approaching a respectable action picture. You certainly can’t get Hong Kong production values for a fiver, but we gave it a bloody good go. Now, it’s over to you. IN

THE INDIENational BUDGET: Bought: - DV Tape (£2) - Can of Diet Coke (60p ) - Double Decker (45p) Borrowed: - Sony GSM 200 Mini DV Camera - Tripod - Nokia N95 Video Phone - Fake blood - Ninjitsu Uniform Stolen: - Location time - Actors’ time & dignity Why not take up the IN challenge? Just 12 hours, and a fiver. Send us your films to: indienationalmagazine@gmail. com and show off your skills. INDIENational • 13


INDIEFeature

THE TRICYCLE CINEMA 269 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR 020 7328 1000 www.tricycle.co.uk

THE REEL CINEMA Forestreet, Knightsbridge, Devon T: 01548 856636 W: www.thereelcinema.co.uk

The Tricycle makes art open to a range of people. It hosts regular charity screenings with funds going to local and global projects

Opened in May 2000, this family-run cinema is housed in a former town hall and takes its pick from both mainstream and niche films

GLASGOW FILM CINEMA 12 Rose Street, Glasgow, G3 6RB T: 0141 332 8128 W: www.gft.org.uk

CHAPTER Market Road, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1QE T: 029 2030 4400 W: www.chapter.org

The GFT has excellent facilities and is part of an initiative aimed at widening the range of non-mainstream films available in the UK

This highly renowned venue hosts a wide array of events, with daily screenings celebrating indie and international film

14 • INDIENational

HandsOn

Indie cinema in the UK...

the ultimate filmmaking guide / april ’08

CAT HACKFORTH discovers Bristol’s Cube cinema, a hidden indie gem that’s thinking outside the box

Photo by: Cat Hackforth

Hip to be Square

J

ust a short walk from the noise and bustle of Gloucester Road, Bristol, the small grey building looks just like any other. That is, until you walk around its entire perimeter and are suddenly confronted by a mass of brilliant red, black and pink graffiti that instantly marks it out as different from drab neighbours. This is the Cube microplex cinema, and you have been invited behind the screen for a very special presentation. Inside, the building is Tardis-like and it’s amazing how much goes on within its poster-strewn walls. In a back room is the Linux-powered nerve centre: an informal assortment of computer desks, all of them well-used and covered with a mass of papers, CDs, cup rings and ideas scribbled on Post-Its. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, tea and biscuits nestle cosily alongside the scientific-looking equipment used to concoct the famous Cube Cola, which is best when mixed with an electric drill. The cinema hosts films, exhibitions and gigs every evening. But open a random door during the day and you could find anything from students holding a stitch ‘n’ bitch to an improvised orchestra tuning their instruments. This is a place run by the people, for the people. The Cube’s story began in the late 1990s after taking over the site from a previous theatre. The Cube built on what was once The Arts Centre – a popular small cinema whose husband and wife owners, faced with substantial debts, vanished in 1998. Rather than let the well-loved venue fall into decline, a pioneering groups of Bristolian theatre-lovers took it upon themselves to reopen it under a new moniker and with a much broader remit to cover all performing arts. A serious fire devastated much of the building in August 2001, forcing it to close down just as word was beginning to spread. With the original team gone, landlords knocking at the door and extensive renovation work needed, things were looking bleak. Nevertheless, the Cube bounced back the following summer and has been running a packed programme of events ever since. The comeback was achieved by a new and enthusiastic team of volunteers, whose dream for the cinema is “a near continuous stream of films, events, activities and music pouring out of every nook and cranny”. Listings at the Cube are a real mix. As well as live music and art, each week’s offerings include a selection of the bigger indie flicks, home-grown films from local directors and 20th century cult classics like Stanley Kubrick comedy Dr Strangelove. There’s also Bluescreen, an ongoing series of imaginative film-making events organised by the cinema’s volunteer staff. One forthcoming event takes inspiration from recent Michael Gondry comedy Be Kind Rewind. On 28 April, the Cube invites you to come along with your own short remakes of your favourite films for a night of Hollywood on a shoestring. You need to be a member to attend, but anyone can join the club for just £1 on the door. With so much talent and potential concentrated in one place, it’s money well spent. IN

This month 16 The right direction Indie director Ryan Owen’s top tips for getting your vision onto the screen

17 Poster boys Do posters still have a role to play in getting your film noticed? We investigate

18 Filmmaking books We review the best practical filmmaking guides to get you started

Plus...

18 Lessons learned Horror marketing pioneer Sam Raimi on the power of learning from your audience


Budget filmmaking

Marketing

The right direction

Words: Chris Sloley Posters: Tyler Stout

Poster boys

Lancastrian filmmaker Ryan Owen, behind such shorts as Cadaver and the mockumentary Pogo, gives his nuggets of advice about making films on a shoestring budget

HandsOn

Words and photo: Charlie Duff

Getting Started

Dead end jobs are good. If you want to make films, don’t get a job you’re interested in because you’ll become complacent. Work in the most boring job you can find – it’ll make you hungry to make films. I work in a call centre and work on scripts when I’m not taking calls. Put yourself up for industry training. It’s My Shout is a scheme run by ITV in Wales which gives hands on experience of the industry to young people. You learn really fast in this sort of environment. Cyfle also provide film training on the job in Wales. Teach yourself filmmaking. Try to learn every part of the craft. Don’t get obsessed with being a director. Work in different roles on other people’s films, that way if you are filming and someone has to go to work or leave for whatever reason, you can step in.

Getting People

Find a crew. Sites like www.talentcircle. co.uk, www.mandy.com, and www. castingcallpro.com all have listings of everybody you might need for your film. You can also advertise for people you require. These people will often work for nothing other than food, the experience and something to put on their CV.

This page: Ryan Owen gets ready for his close-up. Next page (from top to bottom): Tyler Stout’s posters for Big Trouble in Little China; Hell Ride; last year’s Vermont International Film Festival; the QT Fest.

Build good working relationships. Over the course of your film get to know people and you may find you can work with them again. Try to build a reliable crew and also don’t get hung up on working with big names. Advertise roles. For actors, there’s a really good dedicated website called www.castingcallpro.com. I was casting director on a recent short film, and I got over 100 applications which is quite a lot. We advertised it as unpaid, but we later decided that we’d pay everyone up to £50 worth of expenses.

Get your priorities right. Your money is better spent feeding your actors than buying extra lenses. It’s a lot better to pay £50 to a lead actor who’s not going to drop out of your film than spending the money on a Sony lens or some other equipment.

Saving Money

Be a control freak. If you’re making a film, finance it yourself. Work to pay off your credit card, then make a film on the plastic and start the cycle again. This way you will have full control. If a group of people all chip in there will be problems with editorial control later. Film on location. If you have a café scene in the script, go to a café and ask permission to film. Self-deprecate: tell them it’s only a small film and promise to be nice and spend money while you’re there. And then make sure you do! No-one ever asks for money – but if they do, go somewhere else. Don’t spend money on equipment when an alternative exists. If you can’t afford lights, rework your script so you can film it outside, or shoot under the lights on a petrol station forecourt. On Pogo [a mockumentary about pogo-sticking] I couldn’t afford to hire lights, so I just bought three builder’s lights and made barn doors [a term for spotlights] to put the filters on. You definitely need a separate microphone: just duct tape it on a fishing pole and then you don’t need to buy a sound boom. Get a camera without breaking the bank. If you borrow someone’s equipment and offer to get insurance out you’re covering them, giving them peace of mind, and it’s a lot cheaper than hiring. Or buy something on a credit card and return it! It really doesn’t matter what make or model it is. Get something cheap and with as many manual features as possible. Get a tape based film and shoot on Hi Def or DV.

Use original music. Don’t use the latest big track you like. You won’t have the rights, or the money to pay for them. Consequently, panels who may see your film will not consider your film for festivals or competitions. Get musical friends to write the score or a track you can use instead. It will be original and provide added value to your production.

In The Edit

You don’t need an editing suite. I’ve just got a laptop that’s not specifically for editing, but I use it to edit. You need a bit of memory and if your hard drive isn’t big enough you can buy a portable one. I’ve got Adobe Premiere. There’s other bits that could add to my editing but I can edit a film and that’s all that matters. Come at it with a clear head. After the shoot is over you may run into problems with editing your film. Take a break and try to be objective about it. You might need to get a new editor but whatever it takes, finish your film. You owe it to the people working with you.

Distribution

Films need to be seen. Get over yourself and be proud of your own work, even if you think your work is rubbish, you have to show it to people. Think positively and make a better film next time. If you get into thinking negatively like “Hitchcock never made a bad film,” you won’t be a filmmaker at all. You need feedback from people, even if it’s negative. Get it out there. Internet distribution is great, but you have to have the confidence to enter your films into festivals. You can use the Without A Box website (www. withoutabox.com) to help you enter festivals and distribute. It’s also worth trying to get your film shown at local independent cinemas.

Before viral marketing became the first port of call for getting your film known, there were posters. These graphic design delights are still important in getting people off the streets and into the cinema to see your film.

Pick Up Your Pens

Onesheetdesign.com, designers of posters for films ranging from American History X to Men in Black, say a strong design background is a good place to start for producing the best quality poster (or ‘one-sheet’ as it’s known). However, having this background is not essential, so you can breathe easy: “While this usually means getting a degree from a college or design school, it is not a must.” The focus is on your artistic ability and, unsurprisingly, the better an artist you are, the better your poster will be. From a technical standpoint you need to know how to use a Mac. “Windows may be the default for the rest of the world, but the graphic design profession is completely dominated by Apple,” insists lead designer JCA. “Being proficient in programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and QuarkXPress is a must.” Another useful piece of technology for budding designers is a graphic tablet. This is where you can put your own hand drawn images and graphics straight onto a computer screen by using the tablet’s stylus pen. This plays into the hands of those who are not at home with computer design programs but are still artistically minded. A decent small version, the Wacom Bamboo One tablet, can be bought from Amazon for £34.99.

Getting My Message Across

“It all depends on the genre of your film as your poster will reflect that, and it’s a fine line. If you get the design and feel wrong for your film poster then you risk missing your target market,” says Starboard Media’s Joanna Eyre. The poster design has to reflect your aim. “If your film is a romantic comedy then you need that to be reflected in the design,” she says. “The worst mistake someone can make when promoting their film if they have an intended audience is mis-advertisement.”

The Process

All City Media, the design company behind posters for The Lives of Others and This is England, know something about putting together a poster that will get your message across. The production process at All City is split into three stages where ideas can be developed and enhanced. The first stage aims to work out the best way to get the plot across. In the case of Mexican love-and-revenge story Amores Perros, All City achieved this by breaking the main studio still into three parts to identify three different plot lines. After toying with angles and priority, (where the viewer’s eye will go) they made it the focal point of the poster. After feedback from the distributor, who ultimately finances the design and so expects some say in how it looks, they add more stylistic elements to stage two. The final stage makes the images hi-resolution by making them 2GB Photoshop layers, then adding grains, textures or filters to match up the quality.


w INDIECalendar

Reviewed

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The Gist: Jotted down during the famed director and cinematographer’s career, Bresson’s memoir-style notes act as a go-toguide for budding cinematographers. Broken into bite-sized quotes his insightful, if short book, is perfect back-pocket fodder. Essential Quote: “Cinematographer’s film where the images, like the words in a dictionary, have no power and value except through their position and relation.”

The Gist: Written by the founder of the Independent Film Awards whose former masterclass students have gone on to produce films like Lock, Stock... and Memento. This book contains essential Memento budget and production information. Essential Quote: “Make absolutely certain that the script you want to produce has that one impossibly bold, fresh, original, dynamic idea that nobody else has but which everyone wants. If you have this you will finance your movie.” The Guerilla Filmmakers Handbook Chris Jones & Genevieve Jolliffe £21.44 The Gist: Covering everything from writing a script to shooting the movie, then selling it. Featuring case studies, interviews and templates, this handbook has everything a filmmaker needs from start to finish. Essential Quote: “Most successful writers have had to experience a great deal of rejection. So don’t take it personally. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” All prices from www.amazon.co.uk and correct at the time of going to press.

Before becoming the poster boy of comic book directors with the Spiderman series, Sam Raimi made a name for himself directing the hyper-kinetic gore horror Evil Dead series. Losing some of his initial flair, his later big-budget pictures never quite replicated his early style of jump-cuts, snap-zooms and wild Dutch-cams. The troubled filming of the original low-budget Evil Dead, was Raimi’s biggest learning experience. Speaking in Bill Warren’s The Evil Dead Companion, the director said, “I was realising why certain techniques had been employed in movies only when I was trying to employ them myself. I suppose I could have learnt these things through more study, [Raimi dropped out of film school] but sometimes it’s best to learn them on your own. “You learn why not to make a jump-cut, as opposed to just reading about it. It’s disorientating to the audience. When they watch your movie, you see them lose it.” By making this mistake himself and seeing the effect it had on the audience, Raimi learnt not to employ it in similar situations again. But flipping this lesson on its head, Raimi said, “I will employ it in a sequence that’s supposed to affect the audience in a very startling way. Now I’ll actually change screen direction – though you’re not supposed to – because of the effect it has on the audience.” One of Evil Dead’s earliest fans was Stephen King, who loved the unorthodox shooting style. “I thought to myself that it worked because nobody in the organised film establishment would even think about trying it this way,” Raimi said. The Evil Dead series stands out from other 80s budget horrors thanks to a peculiar sense of humour, but primarily due to the insane dynamic shooting style of a director teaching himself as he progressed.

CJ7 (12) (Stephen Chow) China Film Group / 21 March

The Assassination of Jesse James… (15) (Andrew Dominik) Plan B / 31 March

A Very British Gangster (15) (Donal Macintyre) Dare Films / 31 March The Nines (15) (John August) Destination Films / 31 March

EVENTS

SEE PICK!

December Boys (12) (Rod Hardy) AAFC / 24 March Silent Light (15) (Carlos Reygadas) Mantarraya / 24 March A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash (PG) (B. Gelpke & R. McCormack) Lava / 24 March Why We Fight (15) (Eugene Jarecki) BBC Storyville / 24 March Back to Normandy (15) (Nicolas Philibert) Les Films d’Ici / 24 March

Reviewed

FESTIVALS China in London Films 2008 6 February - 6 April London Chinese Cultural Centre T: 0207 928 3232 W: www.chinesecultural.org.uk

Centenary of Sir David Lean’s Birth 22-29 March Carnforth Station, Lancashire www.carnforthstation.co.uk Shine A Light - Premiere 2 April Leicester Square, London www.myfilms.com/best/ shine-a-light.asp

Twilight and Treachery 12-27 March BFI Soundbank, London W: www.tinyurl.com/yt267a

Renderyard Film and Documentary Festival Westbourne Studios and the Roxy, London W: www.renderyard.com

GET ALONG TO... TWILIGHT AND TREACHERY: Post-War European Film Noir 12-27 March 2008 Where: BFI Soundbank, London

Silent Light (PG) (Nadia Conners & Leila Conners Petersen) Appian Way / 21 March

Lars and the Real Girl (PG) (Craig Gillespie) Sidney Kimmel / 21 March El Orfanto (15) (J.A. Bayona) Esta Vivo! / 21 March The Devil Came on Horseback (15) (Ricki Stern & Anne Sundberg) Break Thru Films / 28 March Du Levande (15) (Roy Andersson) Posthus Teatret / 28 March

SEE PICK!

Notes on the Cinematograph Cinematographer Robert Bresson £16

CINEMA RELEASES

SEE PICK!

The Gist: The definitive screenwriting guide outlining the principles of story design, including structure and character and deeper areas such as causality and coincidence. Heavy going at times, but every little bit is essential. Essential Quote: “A story must obey its own internal laws of probability. The event choices of the writer, therefore, are limited to the possibilities and probabilities within the world he creates.”

/calendar

DVD RELEASES

SEE PICK!

For movie moguls For budding auteurs

Teach yourself by watching your films with an audience

Words: Chris Sloley Photo: MG Chan

For Tarantino wannabes

Story Robert McKee £13.19

Raindance Producers Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking Elliot Grove £22.79

HandsOn

#3 Sam Raimi

IndieNational choice

For living Kubricks

Words: Chris Sloley & Colin Scott

Filmmaking books

n the next two weeks, there will be all manner of exciting things happening in the world of independent film. And it’s our job to make sure you’re aware of the events coming your way.

FESTIVAL PICK

MUST SEE...

CINEMA PICK

THE 11th HOUR 21 March 2008 Appian Films Dirs: Nadia Conners, Leila Conners Petersen As the planet continues to burn and more people plunge their heads into the sand to avoid the truth, it takes some celebrities to wield their weight to get people involved. Leonardo DiCaprio has taken time out from being Scorcese’s latest muse to put some clout behind what is an alarming documentary, uncovering the desperate state of the world’s environmental health.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Independent

MUST BUY/RENT...

PG

DVD PICK

ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD 31 March 2008 Plan B Dir: Andrew Dominik Despite all the excited murmurs that met Andrew Dominik’s moody western, it didn’t transfer into box office business. For those who missed out there is now the chance to watch Brad Pitt, free from his celebrity lifestyle, playing the iconic misanthropic gunslinger and his titular demise at the hands of creepy Casey Affleck. And Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ beautifully sombre score rumbles below proceedings.

DON’T MISS...

Photo courtesy of The Oscars

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Photo courtesy of the Oscars

EVENTS PICK

SHINE A LIGHT - PREMIERE 2 April 2008 Where: Leicester Square, London plus 100 cinemas nationwide Dir: Martin Scorsese

Pessimistic moods and shady looking fellows abound, as the What do you get if you BFI presents a festival filled combine Scorsese and the with Europe’s best noir efforts. Stones? A bloody massive film From fascist-identity thriller The extravaganza. The Goodfellas Conformist, which set the trend helmer has captured the Stones’ for many of The Godfather’s career backwards from their shooting techniques, to the more earth-shattering Big Bang shouty Get Carter, you should Tour to their inception. The expect a packed programme premiere takes place in Leicester filled with psychologically Square but satellite shows will torturous affairs. The eleven be beamed to a 100 cinemas film rostrum crosses an array of across Britain, so everyone European countries and scenarios can experience the magical Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Cinematographer Transcendent One to bring a gritty, realistic feeling feel of what should be a glitzy, to a vivid fruition. glamorous opening night. Don’t forget to visit the INDIENational website at journalism.cf.ac.uk/indienational for up-to-the-minute listings

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INDIENational • 19


INDIEFeature

INDIEFeature Main Poto by: Laurence Edmondson Other photos courtesy of: Channel 4

THREE MINUTE WONDER Want to get your short-film ideas budgeted and screened to an audience of millions? It couldn’t be easier with Channel 4’s 3MW... Words: Laurence Edmondson 20 • INDIENational

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estled somewhat uncomfortably between Jon Snow’s mind-melting ties and Channel 4’s 8pm prime time slot is a fantastic outlet for independent filmmakers. You’ve probably caught a glimpse of 3 Minute Wonder (3MW) at some point, but you may not have considered the opportunity it presents to get your talent aired on Channel 4, at prime time and to millions of viewers as well. This is the great thing about the 3MW concept. Because it’s on at a peak viewing time people can’t help but find themselves being dragged into its short snappy stories. It’s like YouTube but comes with high end production techniques and is, of course, screened on terrestrial television.

attract authors Nick Hornby and Sebastian Faulks to play a game of cinematic Consequences. The authors started a story and left it to celebrities and members of the public to add their own paragraph, one after another, until a full short film was scripted. After the story had been tossed around it was given back to the original author to finish off. Celebrity contributors have included in the past the likes of Harry Hill, June Sarpong, and Jon Culshaw. But what does it take to create a really good 3MW? And more importantly, what does Vogel look for in new talent? “The best weeks feel utterly unusual,” explains Kate, “they embrace the boundaries of the short form and can be summarised in

3MW is open to anyone and commissioning editor Kate Vogel is constantly on the look out for fresh filmmaking talent. And if you do catch her eye you’ll be rewarded with a fixed budget of £4,000 per episode to flaunt your filmmaking talent to the nation. When talking to 4Talent, Channel 4’s website for emerging artists, Kate explained what the project is about. “3MW is a really collaborative space - I get sent ideas, showreels and tasters from a variety of sources: film students; assistant producers who are passionate about their own projects; independent filmmakers who have completed their first short film; and many more contributors. Together we shape and form an idea for a series of shorts - four films that will play out from Monday to Thursday on any given week.” Kate is very positive about long term opportunities the project offers. “3MW is the first step in Channel 4’s new talent ladder,” she says, “finding and developing the people who will be the future of British programming. People who will eventually drive viewers and figures in prime time - we hope!”3MW has a number of success stories under its belt. Jamie Jay Johnson made the quirky, Holiday Around My Bedroom in 2003 and went on to direct Raw Britannia, a rather revealing series aired on Channel 4 in 2005. In October last year 3MW managed to

one sentence. The shorts have a clarity of proposition at the heart of them. “[Successful applicants] should have had some filmmaking experience. The best way through the door is to send me an example of your work. It’s the best indicator of your style, interest and potential.” The most recent 3MWs, ones you may have seen air in January and February, were based on the theme of “Storytelling” and attracted a diverse and large number of interpretations. For upcoming commissions Kate and her team have decided on the theme “My Family and Other Animals”. The choice takes inspiration from Gerald Durrell’s book, also named My Family and Other Animals and is an attempt to get filmmakers to draw inspiration from their own lives and experiences. Kate explains that the reason for a theme is not to limit or restrict applicants but instead to give the series a certain amount of cohesion when it is broadcast on Channel 4. First and foremost, however, she stresses that she is “Looking for films which surprise and challenge.” So, what are you waiting for? 3MW is your opportunity to turn your own, personal filmmaking vision into a reality and, in the process, gain your very own three minutes of fame. For application details and existing efforts see the links below.IN

3MW: Best of the bunch... FourDoc’s executive editor Patrick Uden, documentary-maker Roger Graef and Kate Vogel got together to decide on the top four 3MWs for the 2006 Sheffield Doc/ Fest. Here are the final choices, maybe yours can be next.

“It’s like YouTube but comes with high end production techniques and is screened on terrestrial TV”

Channel 4’s Kate Vogel is looking for the next big filmmaking talent

More information is available at: www.channel4.com/4talent/national All entries should be sent through: www.channel4.com/corporate/ 4producers The deadline for the next batch is: 31 May 2008 Any questions should be sent to: fourdocs@channel4.com

I Remember Lebanon Director: Zeina Aboul Hosn Synopsis: A doc looking at memories of Lebanon before it was bombed View at: www.channel4.com/fourdocs/ film/film-detail.jsp?id=16362

Lark Director: Bronwen Parker-Rhodes. Synopsis: A surreal and abstract look at the routines of everyday life View at: www.channel4.com/fourdocs/ film/film-detail.jsp?id=18865

Cows Director: Louise Camrass Synopsis: Four minutes of sitting in a field with cows – it’s as weird as it sounds View at: www.channel4.com/fourdocs/ film/film-detail.jsp?id=12161

Ringing the Changes Director: Jonathan Milburn Synopsis: An old woman replying to messages on her answering phone – more interesting than you might think View at: /www.channel4.com/fourdocs/ film/film-detail.jsp?id=10061 INDIENational • 21


INDIEFeature

Words: ELIZABETH-ANNE GRUMMITT

Brick Rian Johnson’s arresting debut feature Brick takes a unique slant on the genre by bringing the character types and dialogue of the hard-boiled detective novel to a high school setting. Featuring inventive cinematography and strong performances from a low key cast, the film follows loner Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he attempts to discover the truth behind the death of his ex girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin). His search brings him into contact with a femme fatale cheerleader, an unstable hired thug and, most dangerously of all, a mysterious drug dealer known only by the moniker The Pin. CAT: “It seemed like they were talking in code at first, but once you get into the idea of it being a film noir, it was easier to understand. The idea of The Pin having his torture basement in the back of his mum’s house was still a little bit trippy though.”

Photos by: kageyb, kk+, mileena, PhineasX, Sheree K, the underlord

Sex, Drugs and College Football

S

earching for a lighter topic after last issue’s war-fest, the newest IndieNational marathon team turn their sights to the world of the teenager. But although it’s normally less explosive, the American high school can still be a battleground, one that not all will survive unscathed. Looking at the pile of DVD boxes in front of us, it seems that the independent filmmaker is drawn to the darker side of teenage angst more than most. Not that we are suggesting they were the geeky ones at school or anything…

Photos by: PDXdj, richelleantipolo

The INdurance Test

INDIEFeature

Heathers “Dear Diary: my teen angst bullshit now has a body count.” One of the most enduringly popular indie teen films, Heathers takes adolescent rebellion to the extreme. Veronica (Winona Ryder) runs the school with her three best friends, all named Heather. When Veronica meets cool outcast J.D. (Christian Slater) she leaves the Heather clique, a decision that soon gets out of hand as she discovers J.D’s sociopathic tendencies. SAM: “The comedy is really black, but I found some elements quite sweet, you saw a human side to almost all of the characters, even the Heathers. The satire on media reaction to teen suicide was spot on. It was also nice to see Winona Ryder and Christian Slater back when they were good.”

The Virgin Suicides The fourth film of our marathon is written and directed by Sofia Coppola and tells the story of the beautiful Lisbon sisters, all of whom kill themselves during one year in 1970s Detroit. The film is narrated by a boy who knew the girls as children. He reflects on how they influenced his life and is still haunted by the mystery that surrounds their deaths. Coppola conjures a drowsy beauty that is always on the verge of revealing something sinister.

Meet the team ELIZABETH-ANNE GRUMMITT Likes: Sprawling epics, the way people kiss in old films, Winona Ryder when she was in her goth phase. Dislikes: Hayden Christensen, popcorn. High School Clique: Band geeks CHRIS SLOLEY Likes: Cool Runnings, Marlon Harewood, American Pie… until they went and made six of them! Dislikes: Chuck Norris being used in political campaigns. It’s not fair. High School Clique: Jocks CAT HACKFORTH Likes: Juno, Pierce Brosnan, the golden metropolis of Milton Keynes. Dislikes: Goreno, Happy Gilmore, Twiglets High School Clique: Nerds SAM WONG Likes: Leon, Adrien Brody, the colour blue. Dislikes: Juno, cats, the rain. High School Clique: Drama club

ELIZABETH: “Kirsten Dunst was really unconvincing as a 14 year old. It showed how teenagers can create their own little worlds well, but it was a bit alienating sometimes. I felt unsettled and unsatisfied at the end, which I guess was the point.”

The films in brief* Use of illegal drugs

24

What needs to be said?

Dazed and Confused A mediocre success at the time of its release Dazed and Confused has become a cult favourite since. The film follows a day in the life of various high school students as they prepare to break up for summer vacation in 1976. The large cast of characters play out themes of growing up, uncertainty about the future and clashing with authority. Featuring several future stars including Ben Affleck, Dazed and Confused paints a nostalgic picture of high school life, complete with a killer soundtrack. CHRIS: “Good to know that Ben Affleck has always been a bit of a bastard. Dazed and Confused is an odd film that’s not really about anything other than getting drunk and dicking about, but somehow it’s so easy-going you happily float alongside it. couldn’t help but notice that the lead kid pinches his nose before he speaks. Every. Single. Time. And he’s called Wally in real life, which is brilliant!”

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19

Deaths

And we’ve made it...

Graduation We’ve sat through six hours of dropouts, dope fiends and drama queens. It sounds like a fun trip back down memory lane, but believe us when we say we are now even happier than before that our teenage years are behind us. After all that, it does seem that indie teen films are more thoughtful and convincing than their mainstream counterparts, even when they are at their most surreal. They also have a shockingly high mortality rate, although we hope that that part is just a metaphor. IN

Number of stars later arrested

5 2

1

Attractive male loners

Maltese Falcons

*May not be scientifically accurate

INDIENational • 23


OPPORT UNI T Y ROCKS INDIEFeature

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t is an art form that is seen by some as nothing more than a promotional tool, but for many of the UK’s most innovative and creative filmmaking talents the music video has become a lucrative outlet and calling card. Since the launch of the pioneering MTV in the early 1980s, the music video has found a consistent audience and become an integral asset in boosting an artist’s profile, as well as the portfolio of those behind the camera. And now the opportunities for new filmmaking talent to develop their skills in such a unique industry have increased dramatically. Some would even argue that the music video stands to be one of the most important art forms of the 21st century. And why not? The potential to stand out in a competitive and challenging industry is a very real one, and means of distribution have improved for smaller filmmakers working with low budgets. Sasha Nixon, the head of Music Video at Partizan, represents directors who have been responsible for some of the most iconic music videos of recent years. She explains how simple it can actually be to get noticed, “It’s about sensing that the director has something to offer that is unique and that feels exciting,” says Sasha. “I have signed people on the basis of one lo-fi, low budget video. For example, my recent signing Ray Tintori, who made the video for MGMT’s Time to Pretend. It [the video] looks like the future, and when I saw it I knew that I wanted to work with Ray.” Tintori already has a healthy filmmaking pedigree, with his undergraduate thesis 24 • INDIENational

film Death to the Tinman receiving an Honourable Mention for Short Filmmaking at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The American’s move into music video production shows that there are transferable skills, ensuring that music videos are a useful yet challenging means of forging a reputation. Sasha believes that music videos are, more often than not, a stepping stone onto bigger projects, but concedes it’s not necessarily a path for everyone. “Music videos are not a money making enterprise for anyone, so it’s important to feel that our directors have the ambition and wherewithal to move into commercials or features after they’ve done their time in music videos,” Sasha explains. “It depends where they want to end up. I think only directors that really love music should go

Being innovative is one of the key challenges for music video directors, a point not lost on Sasha. “Innovation moves things forward, and, speaking for me, it’s what makes my job exciting,” she reveals. “It depends on the project of course. If you’re making a video for a scuzzy band who are more about authenticity and attitude, and all they want is to make a video with a ground-breaking new technique in it, then that’s another challenge altogether.” And that’s just one of the issues involved in music video production. It requires an approach to the project from a lessconventional perspective. Working with musicians presents a vastly different working environment from working with actors. “The musicians are there on the shoot because it’s their own video, so their

“It’s important our directors have the ambition to move into commercials or features after they’ve done their time in music videos.” - Sasha Nixon, Partizan into music videos. Many don’t, and just see music videos as a hobby in between other projects, and these directors tend to get nowhere in this day and age because it’s too competitive,” she adds. But that shouldn’t put you off, because the rewards are up for grabs for those willing to step up to the plate. Creating music videos that turn heads is a sure fire way of putting your name in the limelight and earning plaudits. Michel Gondry, another director on the books at Partizan, received widespread acclaim for his video for The White Stripes’ Fell In Love With a Girl which used innovative Lego-style animation and subsequently picked up a raft of awards. Nima Nourizadeh is another director who has cut his teeth in music videos, and recent collaborations with Mark Ronson and Hot Chip have helped make him one of the most sought after music video directors currently at work in the UK.

Photo by: Mr Ush

Music videos are short and sweet but as a genre of filmmaking they are often overlooked. PETE HAYMAN checks out this innovative arena and looks at the advantages of getting involved

INDIEFeature

relationship to the project is not the same as that of a hired actor, for whom it’s a paid job,” explains Sasha. “If it’s a performance video, the band are unscripted. They are just meant to play and give an authentic performance. But if it’s a narrative, and the band are playing roles, they might uncomfortable and awkward, unlike a professional actor.” When it comes to the crunch, there is no other form of filmmaking which offers such a unique forum in which to develop techniques, skills, and more importantly, a portfolio. Artists will always look to music videos as an important means of promotion,meaning there’ll always be a need for exciting new talent to produce those videos. Once completed, the power of the internet through video hosting sites and viral campaigns mean that your work has the potential to set you off on an exciting and rewarding path in the filmmaking industry. IN

MICHEL GONDRY:

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ell, quite simply, Gondry is one of the finest filmmakers on the scene at the moment. Not only credited with pioneering the ‘bullet time’ technique by setting up a load of cameras on motion sensors for Bjork’s Army of Me, he has also entered the Guinness Book of Records as the director of the commercial that has received the most awards (the Levi’s Drugstore ad). His directing career has seen him responsible for films such as Be Kind Rewind and the Oscar-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, commercials for the likes of Motorola and Levi’s, as well as music videos for Foo Fighters (Everlong), White Stripes (Fell in Love With A Girl) and Chemical Brothers’ (Let Forever Be). Read INDIENational’s review of Be Kind Rewind on our website.

SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE DIRECTORS HAVE CUT THEIR TEETH BY MAKING MUSIC VIDEOS, INCLUDING THESE FILM GREATS... SPIKE JONZE:

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f there is anything that American director Spike Jonze hasn’t done, then we’d like to see it. The list of credits in film and music videos to his name are seemingly endless, first finding fame with videos for both Sonic Youth (100%) and The Breeders (Cannonball) in the early 1990s. Jonze’s big break came in 1999 as director of Being John Malkovich before going onto create the smash hit TV show Jackass. All the while he has continued to make some impressive music videos, including Fatboy Slim’s Weapon of Choice which featured a dancing Christopher Walkern. Other music video credits include Daft Punk (Da Punk) and Weezer (Buddy Holly), which saw the band star alongside none other than The Fonz.

ANTON CORBIJN:

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orbijn started his career as a photographer in his native country Holland in the 1970s before working for NME with post-punk bands such as Joy Division. During this time he made a move into music videos, and one of his first assignments was on U2’s Pride (In The Name of Love). Since then, Corbijn has worked for Depeche Mode (Enjoy the Silence), Coldplay (Talk) and on the MTV Video Music Award-winning HeartShaped Box for Nirvana in 1993. In 2007, Corbijn’s first foray into feature length films saw him earn rave reviews for the Ian Curtis/Joy Division biopic, Control. Read INDIENational’s review of Control on our website. INDIENational • 25


INDIEBlagger

INDIEBlagger

Photo by: minirobot

Not just cheese-eating, surrender monkeys

“French cinema has

consistently pushed boundaries and challenged convention”

The Blagger’s Guide To...

French cinema

The The

T

he birthplace of commercial film, France has had more than its fair share of cinematic milestones and triumphs. With its innovative style and refusal to conform to traditional Hollywood norms, French cinema has often been at the forefront of original filmmaking. Home to a plethora of the world’s sexiest film stars and its most controversial auteurs, French cinema has consistently pushed boundaries and challenged convention. Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about French cinema.

The

Words: BETHAN PRICE

Actors

The

Pioneers

The Lumière brothers (1895) The brothers patented the cinematographe, a new filmmaking device combining a camera with a projector which allowed crowds of people to watch films on a large screen. On 28 December 1895, it was used to host the first commercial cinema screening at the Salon Indien in Paris. Pretend You’ve Seen: Leaving the Lumiere Factory (1895) Georges Méliès (1890s/1900s) Having created his own camera, the kinetograph, Méliès set up Europe’s first film studio at Montreuil Sous Bois, and produced over 500 films. A special effects wizard, he produced the first ever sci-fi flick, A Trip to the Moon (1902) and was also the first director to use slow motion, trick sets, mirrors and stop motion. In addition, he is credited with introducing plot, character development and producing the world’s first horror film, Le Manoir du Diable (1896). Pretend You’ve Seen: A Trip to the Moon (1902); Le Manoir du Diable (1896)

26 • INDIENational

Directors

The

New Wave

Former film critics turned directors JeanLuc Godard, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer (1958 to the mid-1960s) Taking its mark from existentialist philosophy and influenced by the likes of Jean Renoir, Jean Vigo and Alfred Hitchcock, the radical New Wave movement rejected the traditional filmmaking ideals of Hollywood. Introducing revolutionary editing styles to make the audience aware they were watching a film, popular techniques pioneered by New Wave included jump cuts, long tracking shots, improvised dialogue and use of irrelevant material between scenes. Pretend You’ve Seen: Le Beau Serge (Claude Chabrol, 1958); À Bout de Souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960); The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

Alain Delon (1957 – present) Having begun his career with 1957’s Quand la Femme s’en Mêle, Delon became a huge star following the success of Plein Soleil based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel. Handsome and stylish, he worked with the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Melville, and became associated with playing gangsters. In 1999, Delon announced his retirement from the film industry, although he continues to act occasionally. Pretend You’ve Seen: Plein Soleil (1960); Le Samouraï (1967) Isabelle Huppert (1972 - present) Not one to shy away from controversial characters, Huppert has played a parenticidal young woman (Violette Nozière, 1978), an incestuous mother (Ma Mère, 2004) and a masochistic teacher (The Piano Teacher, 2001). One of France’s most respected actresses, she has worked with many of her nation’s top directors including Jean-Luc Godard and François Ozon, and regularly appears in Claude Chabrol’s films. Pretend You’ve Seen: The Piano Teacher (2001); Violette Nozière (1978)

François Ozon (1997 - present) The 40-year old enfant terrible of French cinema, François Ozon is a graduate of the prestigious French film school, La Fémis. Refusing to conform to traditional notions of filmmaking, his pictures tend to be hard to categorise and play with conventional notions of gender and sexuality. 2004’s 5x2 reversed the traditional boy meets girl narrative, beginning with the couple’s divorce and ending with their meeting. His next film, Ricky, is due out next year. Pretend You’ve Seen: Swimming Pool (2003); 5x2 (2004) François Truffaut (1959 - 1984) A leading light of the New Wave movement, François Truffaut began his career as a critic on Cahiers du Cinéma, where he was nicknamed “The Gravedigger of French Cinema” for his uncompromising reviews. Truffaut’s work often focused on themes of women and childhood, and his films regularly included the character Antoine Doinel, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud. Truffaut was responsible for a huge rift in the New Wave in the early 1960s when he was sued by director Roger Vadim over comments he made about Vadim’s meddling in Jean Aurel’s La Bride sur le Cou (1961). Truffaut lost and the New Wave community was divided. Pretend You’ve Seen: Jules et Jim (1962); The Last Metro (1980)

Films

La Règle du Jeu (1939) Regularly regarded as one of the greatest French films of all time, Jean Renoir’s tragic farce tells the story of the secret lives of the servants, hosts and guests during a country house party. An inspiration to the likes of Robert Altman (Gosford Park, 2001), Jean Renoir’s classic picture was nevertheless highly controversial and a commercial failure. Upon its release in 1939, one viewer was so incensed by the film he tried to set the cinema on fire and a month later, the French government banned it, saying it was bad for the country’s morale. During the Nazi occupation, the regime destroyed a number of the film’s prints and in 1956, after a painstaking operation, Renoir’s supporters successfully collected the remaining fragments of the film and pieced it back together. Renoir later claimed that the salvaged film was only missing one scene. Amélie (2001) A breakout hit upon its release in 2001, Amélie, by Delicatessen auteur JeanPierre Jeunet, turned Audrey Tautou into a major star. This sweet and whimsical tale is about a shy, lonely girl who finds a box of childhood mementoes under her floorboards, and returns it to its owner. Originally written for English actress Emily Watson, who dropped out to make Gosford Park, the title role went to young ingénue Tautou, the first French actress to audition for the part. IN

The

Nollywood Nollywood Invasion Home to the world’s third largest film industry, Nigeria is leading the way in African filmmaking. Words: BETHAN PRICE

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estled in the armpit of Western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea coast, Nigeria is home to around 148 million people, as well as the world’s third largest film industry. As the country contains numerous tribal groups and various different languages, Nigeria’s film industry is divided by its ethnic groups. The best known of these filmmaking communities is Nollywood, which is dominated by members of the Igbo tribe and renowned for its English-language straight-to-video films. Nigerian filmmaking began in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when digital technology became widespread that the country’s film industry really took off. Extremely popular in Sub-Saharan Africa and with immigrant African communities in the West, it is estimated that Nollywood films make around $200 million a year. “By tradition, we’re a storytelling people,” Femi Odugbemi, president of the Independent Television Producers Association told The Guardian newspaper. “We have more than 230 languages, different cultures, all unique in themselves.” Not sticklers for quality, Nollywood films are usually made in around a week, on a tiny budget of a few thousand dollars, which is financed by local merchants. In a matter of weeks, these films hit the shelves and sell by the ton in markets, shops, post offices and even fast food restaurants. Like Bollywood, Nollywood films tend not to emulate real life, instead featuring aspirational plots that focus on the battle of good versus evil. Based in the South West of the country, around the commercial centre Lagos, the Nollywood films favour stories with traditional tribal themes such as witchcraft and ritual killing, all given a hyped up, soap opera-like treatment. Among the Africans living overseas, Nigeria’s prolific film industry is a valuable way to stay in touch with their homeland, and also provides them with an opportunity to teach their children about the African way of life. Meanwhile, Nigerian films are seen as an inspiration by other African filmmaking countries. The astonishing rise of Nigeria’s film industry shows no signs of abating and looks set to continue for a long time to come. Whether it can overtake Hollywood and Bollywood as the world’s most prolific producer of film, however, remains to be seen. IN INDIENational • 27


INDIEReviews

INDIEReviews THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

/ Cinema Reviews

Focus Features 29 February / Dir: Justin Chadwick

IndieNational says...

T

There have been horror films in which proceedings are viewed through the lens of the protagonists before, most notably 1999’s The Blair Witch Project (and, interestingly, the post-credits coda of the recent Dawn of the Dead remake). The real-life explosion of user-generated media content through outlets such as MySpace and YouTube seems to have prompted a resurgence of interest in the subgenre, however, with last year’s The Zombie Diaries, Cloverfield and the forthcoming [Rec] chewing over similar fat. Certainly, Diary of the Dead has its work

learnt archery at Oxford (really?) to the effete, ineffectual rich boy, little is done to play with existing stereotypes. Highlighting the genre’s clichés in the opening sequence only make it all the more frustrating when they turn up in the same movie an hour later. Despite all the surface development, Romero is doing little more here than cannibalise his previous work. Matt Elton

his slice of historical fiction, based upon Philippa Gregory’s novel of the same name, is brilliant in places but decidedly dodgy in others. The Other Boleyn Girl sees the big screen directorial debut of Justin Chadwick, who made his name in television, most notably on the BBC adaption of Bleak House. The screenplay by Peter Morgan, who found success with last year’s The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, falls short of his recent high standards. To fit the film’s two-hour running time, some plot strands have been left unfinished. A number of minor characters, such as Mary’s husband, are introduced and then abandoned with no hint of explanation. Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, while not obvious choices for the English Boleyn sisters, cope admirably. They portray the relationship between the warring sisters as difficult and competitive, but one which is ultimately bound by blood. Scarlett Johansson has done period drama before, having won critical acclaim for her role in Peter Webber’s 2004 sleeper hit Girl with a Pearl Earring, while Natalie Portman last unleashed her English accent in the Wachowski’s V for Vendetta. Australian actor Eric Bana is suitably regal as the young Henry, but his character fades into the background next to the performance of the two leading ladies. Henry’s weakness serves as an intriguing contrast to the strong willed Anne and the ambitious ladies he courts. The cinematography is expertly handled, filmed using the increasingly popular HD technology it beautifully brings to life the colours and character of the 16th century court. In direct contrast to the cinematography, the editing is poor. It feels as if scenes have been cut out at random, leaving it ungainly and disjointed in many places of the film. Put aside the questionable historical accuracy and number of loose ends, and this is an entertaining, if not spectacular cinematic experience. Charlie Duff

Performance: 4 Soundtrack: 4 Cinematography: 6

Performance: 6 Soundtrack: 6 Cinematography: 7

Ratings

IndieNational Score

The dead are revolting... in more than one sense.

DIARY OF THE DEAD Optimum 7 March / Director: George A Romero Plot Synopsis Film student Jason (Joshua Close) and his friends are making a horror movie in nearby woods when the dead start returning to life. Capturing events on camera as they go, they head home…

IndieNational says...

T

here are two things present in every George A. Romero zombie film: gore and allegory. Each of the previous movies in his Living Dead series have a particular social topic in their sights: from Night of the Living Dead’s undercurrent of racial tension to the assault on consumerism in 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. Diary of the Dead, the fifth instalment after last year’s little-loved Land…, reboots the premise, using the shaky medium of hand-held camera to explore notions of media control.

cut out to keep the “remove the head or destroy the brain” premise fresh. There are a few new innovations – mostly using peculiarly lo-fi dispatch methods such as scythes and bows and arrows – but genre aficionados will have seen most of it before. Similarly, whilst the film’s revisiting of themes and locales from previous Living Dead movies – rural barns, deserted townscapes, corrupt soldiers – could be seen as knowing references, they merely end up making the narrative distinctly episodic. Where the film does succeed is in its relentless proximity to the action. The jerky camerawork and unsettling cuts add a gritty feel to proceedings, genuinely raising the pulse on a number of occasions. These tight cuts also heighten the tension of something lurking just out of shot. Giving the camera such prominence ends up making it almost a character in its own right. This shouldn’t be a problem – after all, directors such as David Fincher often make camerawork a fundamental part of their arsenal – but here the actual characters are so one-note it makes it hard to care about proceedings. From the British academic who

“Giving the camera such prominence ends up making it almost a character in its own right”

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1-Avoid

2-Awful

3-Poor

5

IndieNational Score

4-Disappointing

5-Average

6

Bleiberg Entertainment 7 February 2008 / Director: Eran Kolirin

Plot Synopsis Eight members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra are asked to play at the opening of an Arab arts centre in Israel. They get lost on the way after taking the wrong bus and hi-jinks ensue.

Plot Synopsis Anne Boleyn is well-known to history as being the first wife of Henry VIII to lose her head, but her elder sister Mary, who was also courted by the king, has largely been ignored. Until now...

THE BAND’S VISIT

Gosling (left) and Gillespie (right) have struck gold with Lars...

Photos by: ..it’s.magic..

Photos by: Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures

The Freshest Indie Cuts

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL

Sidney Kimmel Entertainment 21 March 2008 / Director: Craig Gillespie

Plot Synopsis Lars (Ryan Gosling), an awkward and lonely young man, orders a realistic sex doll from the internet and develops a curious, delusional relationship with it, much to the confusion of his friends and family.

IndieNational says...

F

rank Capra’s classic films mixed home spun warmth and charm with some rather far-fetched macguffins. Craig Gillespie, uninspiring in his debut Mr Woodcock, manages to achieve a similar feat with his second feature. The unsavoury subject of the lead character’s affections could have led the film to feel downright seedy. But his soft, gentle camerawork, which almost seems afraid to linger too long on “Bianca”, allows us to appreciate the relationship for what it is. The film hinges on the performance of Gosling. After impressive roles in Stay and Full Nelson, he brings such humanity to Lars’

“Gillespie brings humanity to Lars’ troubled character” troubled character that the audience becomes truly invested in this awkward but ultimately innocent relationship. Gillespie frames the film beautifully; the score is minimalist and emotive while lingering shots of the gradually receding snowfall is used as a metaphor for Lars’s improving mental state. The only flaw is the way that after their initial doubts, his friends, family and the town at large happily buy in to his delusion that Bianca is a real person. Capra made it seem natural, but in a modern setting such reaction to having a dressed up sex-doll in the community sometimes feels out of kilter. But this is a minor quibble. Bianca is invested with real personality through the fine performances of the cast, making the film’s climax all the more touching. Despite the potential for farce, the film never strays from its convictions, making it a truly unique love story. Josh Gardner Performance: 9 Soundtrack: 7 Cinematography: 8

IndieNational Score

8

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN

Artificial Eye / 22 February 2008 / Director: Fatih Akin

Plot Synopsis A multi-layered drama about the intertwining lives of three families in Turkey and Germany who are brought together by tragedy and coincidence. This uncompromising drama covers prostitution, political activism and asylum seeking.

IndieNational says...

T

IndieNational Score

6-Good

8-Highly polished

7-Very good

Bethan Price Performance: 4 Soundtrack: 2 Cinematography: 4

E

ran Kolirin has crafted a playful jaunt out of potentially volatile subject matter, where the tricky nature of Arab-Israeli relations is alluded to but never takes the forefront. The confusion of weary Egyptian band leader Tawfiq (Sasson Gabai) and his equally puzzled band mates remains witty throughout. The film, though low budget, is good looking, with Kolirin channelling the sparse, static compositions of Herzog to heighten the feeling of isolation. It is a hard task for any writer to make whimsy out of scenarios that are widely considered hostile but this manages it, helped immensely by the film taking no political stance. Kolirin and crew deserve to have created a quiet sleeper hit. Ewen Hosie Performance: 7 Soundtrack: 8 Cinematography: 7

IndieNational Score

7

THE COTTAGE

Pathé 14 March 2008 / Director: Paul A. Williams

Plot Synopsis Two bungling brothers (Andy Serkis and Reese Shearsmith) kidnap the step-daughter of a London gangster. But their plan goes horribly awry as they encounter a crazed farmer with a penchant for blood.

IndieNational says...

The screenplay, in particular, with its maddeningly contrived plot and thoroughly unpleasant characters make it hard to enjoy the experience. Rainer Klausmann’s stark cinematography with its use of natural lighting – while making the location shots look beautiful – contrasted wildly with the unrealistic plot. After all, if you’re going to have a plot which defies belief, it’s probably best not to emphasise realism in the cinematography. The piece de resistance was the ending, if it could be called an ending, as the film didn’t so much conclude as finish abruptly for no apparent reason with Nejat sitting on a beach. That the film had ended only dawned when the credits appeared on screen. Unless you enjoy your films contrived and artistically pretentious, this film is best avoided at all costs.

he latest film from acclaimed Turkish German director Fatih Akin is a monumental let down. After winning the coveted top prize at Berlin film festival, the Golden Bear, with his last effort, HeadOn, there were high hopes for 34 year old Akin’s multi-layered drama The Edge of Heaven. Unbelievably, this actually won the Best Screenplay prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, proving that no film festival always gets it right. While Akin displays some fine directorial touches, most notably the outstanding artistic shots of Nejat (Baki Davrak) driving through the Turkish countryside and sitting on a train, the film is a disappointment.

IndieNational says...

3 9-Excellent

T

here’s no point pretending that The Cottage is an artistic masterpiece with a witty screenplay and innovative direction. Or that it has wonderfully high production values. Or, indeed, that lads’ mag favourite Jennifer Ellison is a fine, accomplished young actress. But if you’re looking for a cinematic experience that’s fun, brainless and will leave you with a smile on your face, then this may just be the film for you. Boasting meat-cleaver wielding Chinese assassins, a swear count to rival Pulp Fiction, a Leatherface rip-off with a knife instead of a chainsaw, oodles of gore and some of the funniest and most inventive death scenes you will see all year, the whole experience is brilliantly enjoyable from start to finish. Not clever, not all that pretty, but very, very silly. Bethan Price Performance: 6 Soundtrack: 7 Cinematography: 7

IndieNational Score

6

10-Masterpiece INDIENational • 29


INDIEReviews

INDIEReviews Miramax 10 March 2008 / Dir: Robert Rodriguez

/ DVD Reviews

After graduating from University, top student Christopher (Emile Hirsch) decides to reject the conventions of modern life and embarks on a journey of self discovery across America.

IndieNational says...

B

ased on a true story, director Sean Penn waited ten years for the approval of Christopher’s family before he made this film. Into the Wild is clearly a project close to Penn’s heart - he rejected other directing projects in order to wait for this to become available. This film is primarily about a young man’s journey to discover himself, but America

For long periods of the film Christopher is alone, thus making the quality of the supporting cast extremely important. Penn was obviously aware of this as he assembled a fine cast to play off his leading man, ensuring the scenes where he comes into contact with people are worth the wait. William Hurt, Vince Vaughn and Catherine Keener are part of an impressive ensemble cast. Of these William Hurt is especially watchable as Christopher’s father, struggling

Plot Synopsis

IndieNational says...

IndieNational says...

IndieNational says...

he second half of the troubled Grindhouse (a three hour double bill in the States, two separate films for Europe) arrives on DVD after Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, despite preceding it in the theatrical cut. Rodriguez’s gooey rehashing of 1970s zombie films careers onto the screen with the introduction of heroine Cherry, a go-go dancer lustfully captured by the camera and accompanied by a soundtrack of porno saxophone. After this attack on the senses, it never looks back. The tone of the film is furiously uneven, stuck between paying homage to and mocking the splatter pictures that it’s based on. Rodriguez has given in completely to the insanity of his source material, and this unevenness becomes one of the film’s charms. This disregard for convention results in many of the film’s most successful and enjoyable moments. Rodriguez has always been a great action director and here his eye for a great set-piece is highlighted at several points, most notably with a helicopter’s blades hacking up the undead and a daring

he film Brick Lane is an adaptation of a the novel by Monica Ali. The book was warmly received by critics, but was deemed offensive by the Bangladeshi community in London. Due to opposition from local people, none of the film was actually shot in Brick Lane as they viewed its treatment of Bangladeshis as demeaning. While some characters are portrayed in an

The Bone Shack: Home from home for the film’s heroes

“The wonderfully shot backdrops all have their own internal beauty” plays a strong supporting role. Locations include Alaska, the Nevada desert and the Grand Canyon. The use of iconic landscapes shows this as much a film about Penn’s home country as it is about Christopher struggling to find his way. The cinematography is incredible and the numerous wonderfully shot backdrops all have their own internal beauty. For instance, the appeal of the hard and unforgiving Alaskan landscape is captured, making it possible for the audience to understand what possessed Christopher to spend several months in this dangerous and uninhabited area. Eddie Vedder, lead singer for rock group Pearl Jam, agreed on the spot to make the score when Penn asked him, despite knowing little about the project. The soundtrack is entirely acoustic and serves as a perfect accompaniment to Christopher’s treks into the unknown, and the antiauthoritarian lyrics ring true to the tone of the film.

Ratings 30 • INDIENational

1-Avoid

to understand why his son has turned down a perfectly good job in favour of wandering around America. This is a genuinely worthy film, and has much to say about the American way of life and the importance of following your dreams. Hirsch is a fine lead, and manages to make a likeable character out of one who is genuinely odd and eccentric. However, the film ultimately flags under the weight of its own lofty ambitions. There is simply too much source material, too much that the makers want to say to fit comfortably into one film. Beautifully photographed, and superbly accompanied by the soundtrack, it is a shame that it feels overly long and does not achieve all it set out to. Worth a look, but not a must have for the DVD collection. Andy Brown

escape on a mini bike. He has also added another dimension to his direction in keeping with the lurid traits of the grindhouse scene; his camera is always willing to linger on a severed limb, woman’s cleavage or decrepit zombie for that added shock value. The main problem the film encounters is the very fact that it was originally supposed to be part of a retro double bill. It comes complete with a fake trailer, trashed print and a missing scene (a convention that may have worked in the double bill but appears confusing standing alone) that hint at popculture extras that never fully materialise. Only a full DVD release of Grindhouse will satisfy these issues, but this is still a merrily off the wall thrill ride. Disengage brain, place tongue in cheek and enjoy. Huw Baines

Performance: 8 Soundtrack: 7 Cinematography: 8

Performance: 7 Soundtrack: 6 Cinematography: 7

IndieNational Score

2-Awful

3-Poor

8

The Works 25 February 2008 / Director: Steve Buscemi

Disgraced political reporter Pierre (Steve Buscemi) is charged with interviewing self-involved media starlet Katya (Sienna Miller). But the question is exactly who is interviewing who?

T

Plot Synopsis

INTERVIEW

Optimum Entertainment 10 March 2008 / Director: Sarah Gavron

A young woman leaves Bangladesh to marry a well-meaning but foolish older man. She pines for home but, after meeting a charismatic youth, realises that her life has changed forever.

Machine gun-legged go-go dancer Cherry (Rose McGowan) leads a ragtag bunch of survivors against a zombie horde created by an experimental weapon in Robert Rodriguez’s half of Grindhouse.

Paramount Vantage 10 March 2008 / Director: Sean Penn

BRICK LANE Plot Synopsis

Plot Synopsis

INTO THE WILD

Photos by: ClintJCL, fuzuoko

PLANET TERROR

Photos by: juliettek, Paramount Vantage

An Indie Night In

IndieNational Score

4-Disappointing

5-Average

7

T

F

irst of three planned remakes of late Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh’s work, this effort doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the trilogy. Van Gogh, who was stabbed to death by a Muslim fundamentalist over his film Submission: Part I in 2004, would surely have been elated by the cast chosen to replicate his work but not as enamoured by wayward

“The characters are flawed but are still deeply human”

“Buscemi has taken his time to become an indie heavyweight”

unflattering light the film does not tar the entire community with the same brush. The characters are flawed but are still deeply human, and represent a broad cross-section of society. Tannishtha Chatterjee was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for her role as childlike Nazneen, and it is easy to see why. She has relatively few lines, but communicates vast amounts of emotion through tiny gestures and wide, expressive eyes. Nazneen’s elder daughter Shahana, played by newcomer Naeema Begum, is outspoken and larger than life. Her vigour is a stark contrast to her mother’s passive acceptance. Unfortunately Bibi (Lana Rahman), the younger of the two daughters, is given practically no character development and feels extraneous to the overall plot. The camerawork is excellent, lingering affectionately on Nazneen’s troubled face and watching with her through net curtains as she looks out on a world that, despite her best intentions, she begins to think of as home. Cat Hackforth

direction, coupled with two over-stretched performances from the leads. To be fair to the main duo they occupy the screen for almost every second of the 84 minute runtime, but this means that the audience is continually waiting for someone new to enter the fray. Their tête-à-tête lacks bite, with Miller playing a caricature of her own media persona and although Buscemi delivers his usual rattish humour, there is no believable sexual tension between the pair. Buscemi has taken his time to become an indie heavyweight in front of the screen but his directing credits have never quite matched the standard of his acting. It says a lot about his prowess that The Sopranos episode “Pine Barrens” stands out as his finest work. Add into that his character in the leading role, a snivelling, pompous hack, and you’ve got a fine actor struggling to master the art of directing. Chris Sloley

The multicultural melting pot of London’s Brick Lane has been captured by the film.

Despite a glittering acting career, Steve Buscemi yet to cut it as an indie director

Performance: 8 Soundtrack: 7 Cinematography: 7

Performance: 6 Soundtrack: 5 Cinematography: 5

IndieNational Score

6-Good

7-Very good

8

IndieNational Score

8-Highly polished

5 9-Excellent

IndieClassic

DVD

#3: Reservoir Dogs Plot Synopsis

Undercover cop (Tim Roth) infiltrates a gang of professional criminals, known only by a colour assigned to them (Mr Black, Mr Pink, et al) whose bank heist goes very wrong indeed.

IndieNational says...

A

film about a failed bank heist, an undercover cop and a scene where someone gets their ear cut off. Oh, and it also launched the career of a certain Quentin Tarantino. A self confessed movie geek, Tarantino’s first feature length film swept the boards at Sundance in 1992, winning the coveted Best Picture Award. This projected him headfirst into a career that would include masterpieces such as Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, and establish him as one of the most sought after and best known directors on the planet. Tarantino’s original plan was for him and his buddies to shoot the film themselves on a budget of 30,000 bucks. However, when star name Harvey Keitel became attached to the project, and made it less of gamble for the suits, the budget jumped up to over a million dollars. Starring future Tarantino favourites Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen, Reservoir Dogs is at its core a very simple tale of a failed robbery committed by a gang of criminals who don’t know each other. What makes it special, and places it on a higher plain, are the many elements that are played out almost perfectly. For example, the 1970s soundtrack fits the mood and tone of the film superbly. Keitel and Roth’s relationship is enduringly human, film references litter the script and iconic dialogue springs forth almost every other line. Many of the film’s speeches, (most notably the discussion over the true meaning of Madonna’s Like a Virgin) have gone down in film history. Reservoir Dogs has been accused of stealing scenes from other movies, and Tarantino himself admitted to it being a homage to Kubrick’s 1956 effort The Killing. There are undoubted similarities, but this is a great movie in its own right, and one that has influenced a whole generation of filmmakers since. Andy Brown

10-Masterpiece INDIENational • 31


INDIEReviews - World

INDIEView

Studio Canal 25 February 2008 / Director: Eric Lartigau Language: French

Luis is a 43 year old single man who creates perfume for a living. Although his mother and five sisters think it’s high time he found himself a wife, Luis has other plans. IndieNational says...

T

he problem with rom-coms is that the ending is often in sight before the opening credits have even finished. I Do is no exception. Luis’s first person narrative at the start of the film seems interesting and engaging, but his voice vanishes just as quickly as it appears. Unlike his performance in The Science of Sleep, Alain Chabat plays a more sympathetic, if somewhat mollycoddled character who wants his family off his back. Charlotte Gainsbourg is wasted as yet another girl next door, lumbered with a character that does little to challenge her potential as an actress. Despite its recycled plot, bursts of highly amusing scenes keep the viewer entertained in between the standard romantic story. It also features the most bizarre bondage scene since Secretary, with Chabat in a leather thong and high heels being whipped with a stick of celery. Although undoubtably clichéd, there are enough moments of quality to make it worth a watch. Samantha Wong

Alain Chabat’s leather thong and high heels scene is... interesting

Performance: 8 Soundtrack: 8 Cinematography: 6

IndieNational Score

REPRISE

Fidelite Productions 14 January 2008 / Director: Eric Barbier Language: French

Diffusion 25 February 2008 / Director: Joachim Trier Language: Norwegian

Plot Synopsis

Plot Synopsis

Photographer Vincent (Yvan Attal) is in the middle of a messy divorce when he is framed for the murder of a young girl. Now he must fight to clear his name.

A group of middle-class guys who met at a punk gig years ago are still hanging out, despite having little in common. Things unravel when one of them begins to go mad.

IndieNational says...

IndieNational says...

M

his stylish tale of murder, family and revenge owes a great deal to one Mr A Hitchcock. The score feels right on song with the master’s 1940s classics, intermittent and foreboding, complimenting the dark and moody cinematography. The Serpent works overtime in the first act, setting up a compelling and unique plot revolving around Vincent’s psychotic schoolmate Plender (Clovis Cornillac). Regrettably, the excellent build-up work is ruined by a ridiculous final act where suspense gives way to clumsy, silly histrionics that ruin the carefully constructed tension. There are real touches of cinematic flair here, but a lack of conviction in the final scenes results in a feeling of being short-changed. Josh Gardner

any of the imagined scenes here are reminiscent of Amélie, and the filming is arty and imagitative with flashbacks and frequent timelapses being employed. The acting is solid, with non-actors Anders Danielsen Lie and Espen Klouman-Hoiner playing the two principal characters, Phillip and Erik. This reasonably good work is spectacularly undone by the amateurish way the main plot device, Phillip’s descent into madness, is handled. The script is clumsy and downright unconvincing, and the amateur cast haven’t the chops to lift it above this level. By the end, it descends into a farce, where you suspect the actors themselves don’t believe what they’re saying, and the audience certainly don’t. Charlie Duff

Performance: 5 Soundtrack: 8 Cinematography: 5

Performance: 6 Soundtrack: 5 Cinematography: 6

IndieNational Score 32 • INDIENational

5

IndieNational Score

World DVD

OLDBOY Tartan Video 28 February 2005 Director: Park Chan Wook Language: Korean

4

/the final cut

“You mean you haven’t seen...”

Plot Synopsis Absent father Oh Dae Su is imprisoned in a room for 14 years for no apparent reason. Upon his release he sets in motion a devastating chain of events leading to his eventual revenge.

“Here’s twenty quid. Buy yourselves a big can of sticky-sticky, and fuck off back to Noddyland” – This is your ticket to Twin Town, chaos-ridden and drug-fuelled. Words: Pete Hayman

The decision to overlook Oldboy at Cannes was not popular IndieNational says...

7 B

THE SERPENT

T

INDIECLASSIC

Photos courtesy of: Agenda Films

I DO

Plot Synopsis

Photos by: Marco Magrini, missblablabla

/ World Reviews

y the time Oldboy’s shocking finale has rolled from the screen, the devastating effect of its final twist will have yet to get under your skin. Give it a minute and see what you think of it then. Park Chan Wook’s film is a complex, furious classic of revenge and forbidden lust that is propelled forward by a startling central performance from Choi Min Sik as Oh Dae Su. The complexities of the film are best discovered for yourself, and become increasingly devastating with each viewing. The film attracted controversy upon its release, mainly due to the scene of Min Sik eating a live octopus. There’s also the furore that was caused by the jury at Cannes refusing to award Oldboy the Palme D’Or, despite the fervent protestations of president Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino’s recommendation is no coincidence. Oldboy has lashings of stylised violence and tongue in cheek humour alongside a complex yet riveting narrative. This narrative is framed by some of the most inventive cinematography seen for several years. A prime example is Dae Su’s breathtaking battle through a corridor filled with vicious thugs, which features a rarely seen miracle shot (famously seen in Citizen Kane) where the camera is buried in a wall. It’s not often that a film combines elements of great performance, narrative and cinematography to such a cohesive whole. But here Chan Wook presents a film that defies critics by fulfilling its potential as both a piece of action cinema and a haunting morality tale. The critical acclaim and box office cred that Oldboy garnered upon release is rarely matched, and it will surprise no one that a Hollywood butchering is in the works. Whatever you do, see this one first. Huw Baines

S

wansea – “an ugly, lovely town” said Dylan Thomas of his hometown. The truth is the city has never been what you might call fashionable, tucked away in a corner along the south Wales coast. Living in a city apparently devoid of ambition – what could the locals possibly have to look forward to? Ever? And if you think that decision was questionable, then consider Kevin Allen. The rookie director decided in 1997 that his first ever feature-length film would be set in Swansea, a city that was probably more accustomed to the Crimewatch cameras than the production paraphernalia of a film. But for some probably outlandish reason, Allen’s decision seems now to have become a cult masterstroke, not least because anyone who has ever spent any time in Swansea will have an instant rapport with the film’s narrative. And the film has been tagged, maybe unfairly, as the “Welsh

Trainspotting”, even though life in Swansea is like no other in Britain. It is a law unto itself. Thrust into the limelight are brothers Rhys and Llyr Ifans (or Llyr Evans, as he is credited here) as Jeremy and Julian Lewis, a pair of scallies whose escapades include glue-sniffing and petty vandalism. The two brothers kick off the film’s opening sequence, tearing through the streets of the city’s Townhill district in a stolen BMW. New residents of Swansea should have already taken notes, because you’ll see exactly the same thing on the Kingsway after dark, even if the cars aren’t stolen. Well most of them. The Lewis brothers appear at first glance to be the main antagonists of the film, and the early scenes do nothing to diminish that impression. Their dad Fatty (Huw Ceredig) is none too happy with their behaviour: “This glue is for my submarines, not for sticking up your noses! Buy your own bloody glue!” But if you wait for the film’s hero to emerge, then you’ll be disappointed. This is Swansea, they don’t do heroes much. Kevin Allen is determined not to provide the audience with any sympathetic figures. Bent coppers Terry Walsh (Dougray Scott) and Greyo (Dorien Thomas) get themselves into an ill-judged feud with local tycoon Bryn Cartwright (William Thomas) over a substantial quantity of cocaine. Somehow into the mix comes Fatty, a member of the ‘potential’ workforce intent on compensation after falling through a roof while working for Bryn. Once you get your head around the intricate relationships between the characters the film threatens to settle down. For a bit at least. But with this cacophonic mess, wires start to cross and when that happens, sparks fly. Suddenly a spiral of vandalism, pet decapitation, and eventually mass murder develops, with the Lewis brothers on one side, and Bryn Cartwright on the other. The whole sequence is triggered

by another true-to-life scene in Baron’s nightclub, where the Lewis twins urinate on Bryn’s daughter as she mercilessly ruins I Will Survive. Barons was a real place until two years ago, and such behaviour was commonplace. How Petula Clark’s Downtown and Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime inexplicably provided the soundtrack for this sheer mayhem is beyond the realms of fantasy, but still it conspires to work in a dark, comedic fashion. But with a shift in tone at the climax, you’d dare to say the ending is poignant, a strong demonstration of the power of family. The dulcet tones of a male voice choir on emanate from Mumbles Pier in the dramatic moonlight. The Lewis brothers are ultimately the film’s heroes, but in an unconventional sense which serves to enforce the gritty realism of the film. And wise words for those off to Swansea any time soon from Rhys Ifans: “The way of the transgressor... is fuckin’ ‘ard.” IN N

INDIENational • 33


INDIENational Presents Andy Brown is Trent Sherwood in...

Double Deader One Man...Pushed Too Far

N as TRENT SHERWOOD also LAURENCE Directed by HUW BAINES Starring ANDY BROW EL ENGLAND PETE HAYMAN and introducing EDMONDSON COLIN SCOTT JOSH GARDNER RACH IONAL production for UNDER A FIVER EWEN HOSIE as 80S HENCHMAN an INDIENAT

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Following the tips of indie action filmmakers Modern Life? Productions, the INDIENational team have taken their message to heart and produced a short film putting the theory into practice in seven minutes of carnage. Enjoy

INDIENational Presents

Double Deader Trent Sherwood is a tough-asnails, ex-Forces maverick who has retired from the theatre of war to work on a crossstitching magazine. He thought his days of bloodshed were behind him and his fighting fists could finally rest... until someone steals the last bite of his chocolate bar... Whoever did it isn’t just dead. They’re double deader.

To read about the production process or share you own creations why not head over to IndieNational Online? journalism.cf.ac.uk/indienational

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