Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label interview. Show all posts

30 September 2014

David Lynch Shares His Thoughts On His Career, Cinema And TV In New 45 Minutes Video

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There's something uniquely distinctive about David Lynch you can't deny admiring the filmmaker even if your not his biggest fan of his work. You may not understand what he is trying to deliver but he has a style of filmmaking that no other director has got close to matching  his vision for the big screen,

Blue Velvet , Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive are all you can't deny worthy of their places in cinema and televisions greatest ever and in a interview with Thompson on Hollywood caught up with legendary director. At they chat about everything from his career, filmography, his early days from an artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (which is holding an new exhibition). The chat goes further into the thought of how easier it is now for filmmakers to create Television than feature films, they even go into Lynch's meditation techniques too!

It's a fantastic little 45 minute video featurette which any student of film should watch, the sound snyc is unfortunately out however it shouldn't stop you enjoying a master of cinema sharing his wisdom on the masses.

20 December 2013

Interview With Rabies/Big Bad Wolves Co-Director NAVOT PAPUSHADO

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This month Horror Channel is showing the UK TV premiere of RABIES, the first slasher to come out of Israel, One of its directors, Navot Papushado,  took time out to chat about this movie and its equally horrifying shocker Big Bad Wolves due to be released in the UK in January 2014.

RABIES is broadcast on Saturday Dec 28 at 10.50pm.

Q: Have you always been a big horror fan?

NP: Oh yes! We grew up in the 80s and watched everything that came out of the US. We grew up on Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and Wes Craven and John Carpenter, everything that came out of the US. Later on we discovered European and Korean cinema and obviously the Coen Brothers and Tarantino.

Q:: Did your classification system ever censor these films?

NP: No, actually the opposite. The Israeli censorship board don’t take any notice of horror films, for example Piranha 3D came out in Israel at the same time that Rabies did and we got rated 18 and above, whilst Piranha 3D for 14 and above. Kick Ass got 12 and above! I think it has to do with Israeli audiences not being that keen on horror films, even the big US horror films like Saw, Hostel and Paranormal Activity don’t do very well.

Q: Where did the idea for Rabies come from?

NP: We decided we wanted to get rid of the serial killer character and decided that we wanted to have all of the other characters kill each other, so there had to be more than the motive of running away from a serial killer so we had to write more complex characters therefore everyone would need a background story. Everyone would have a motivation to kill. The first story we wrote was the one about the Cop who always leaves messages for his wife who never answers and then he leaves this horrible one and then she answers (laughs) so we realised we had to write all the others to match that dramatic element and character development and that’s how Rabies was born.

Q: Did the script change much from the first draft to the shooting script?

NP: No, we pitched it to a couple of producers, we showed them the draft and they were like, “OK, let’s wait for Government funds” but we didn’t want to do that. Then we met a guy who said, “How much do you want?” and we said an amount and he said, “OK I’ll give you half!” Then he asked, “How many days do you need?” and so we told him at least 20 and he said, “I’ll give you 15!” We got the green light from that script and just went out and shot it.

Q: Was it a tough shoot?

NP: Yes and no. We didn’t realise it at the time that it was tough as it was our first feature even though we had done a few shorts before. But it was a shoestring budget and everyone on set was less experienced than us so we had to hide this from the actors!

Q: Did you have any actors in mind when writing the script?

NP: Yeah, a couple of them. Actually when we pitched we told the producer that we wanted all these actors and they pointed out that we didn’t have that kind of money and we told him not to worry and that we’d take care of that!

Q: Rabies has a very strong story, do you think that helped reach out to audiences?

NP: Thank you very much. One thing is we cast all A-list actors from Israel so it was like seeing Kate Blanchet or Tom Cruise in a horror movie so Rabies was kind of an event. It was more than a horror movie, everyone wanted to see their favourite actor get murdered, or something like that (laughs)

Q: Do you think one of its greatest assets is that most of the effects are practical and old school?

NP: Yeah, even on Big Bad Wolves there is only one shot that lasts only three or four seconds that we had to use visual effects. We believe in getting everyone done on the set.

Q: What did the critics think of Rabies when it was released in Israel?

NP: I think they were split. The older critics didn’t quite get it. They also don’t like violent films so they don’t like Tarantino films or Korean films for example. The younger critics, and when I say younger I mean under 45, they all loved it and gave it 5 stars, they loved it. It was a critical success and a box office success. There was an older critic whom we admire, considered to be the most acclaimed critic in Israel who writes for a newspaper whose logo is, “A Newspaper for Thinking People”, and he loved it! It gained a cult status through VOD and DVD sales.

Q: If you had made Rabies before Big Bad Wolves would you have approached it differently.

NP: That’s a really tough question. Rabies is Rabies because of the time it was shot, because of the budget when it was shot and the ideas that we had at the time and our approach. Rabies was shot hand held in the woods because that is the genre. You have to shoot films and edit films to fit the genre so I’m really pleased with everything we did with Rabies.

Q: Would you make Rabies 2?

NP: Oh, maybe when I’m old and Rabies has gained such a cult status and they give me $10 million dollars and a budget for $100 million dollars (laughs).

Q: Are you pleased Rabies is being shown on the Horror Channel?

NP: Yeah, defiantly. We are huge fans of the UK. The UK has been so kind to us over he last couple of years starting from FrightFest from two years ago when they showed Rabies. You really can’t compete with the British audience. They are fanatics, they love horror films. The screening of Big Bad Wolves earlier this year in front of 1,300 people was incredible. We are extremely happy with what’s going on in the UK with our films. You guys seem to get us!

Q:: So what are you working on at the moment?

NP: We are promoting Big Bad Wolves which is coming out in the UK in January and working on a couple of projects here in Israel that we are starting to push and also receiving a few scripts from the US. We are writing a spaghetti western that’s set in the early 40s and a few science fiction scripts.

Q: Navot Papushado, thank you very much.

Rabies trailer

11 June 2013

Joss Whedon Talks Shakespeare and Superhero’s Ahead of his Latest Release

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Buffy creator Joss Whedon answered my questions at this year’s Glasgow Film Festival; ahead of the UK premiere of his latest big-screen endeavour: an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. In addition to the release of Much Ado, Whedon is currently working on Avengers 2 and its forthcoming spin-off TV show, S.H.I.E.L.D.

Much Ado About Nothing departs from the Whedon canon, as unlike fan favourites such as Firefly and The Avengers, it is not science fiction (however – with the film’s script making use of original Shakespearean dialogue – it could be said that this also functions as a form of fantasy). Whedon notes the alterations in filming a much smaller scale production this time around than with The Avengers, saying: “It’s quite different. Ultimately what you’re looking for on the set is that camaraderie, where everybody’s pulling in the same direction. When you’re doing Avengers – and this is something that I’m hoping to rectify – you didn’t really have the same, everybody working on a huge movie, coming off another huge movie (with people much bigger than you are), and going off to do another huge movie with someone much bigger than you are; and their just sort of jobbing. When we did Buffy, people would come up and go ‘Oh, this is my favourite script’, they understood why they were doing everything. When we were shooting Avengers, a crew came up to me on the Helicarrier and said to me ‘Are we in space?’…and I realised oh they haven’t been allowed to read the film, because Marvel is so secret. Also cause there’s so many people and you’ve got to spend so much time blowing stuff up and this that and the other. With this film, I’m at my house, with my best friends, and every day we’re completing at least one – if not more – really thick, meaty delightful scenes. So we go away every day going ‘God we just accomplished all this as opposed to ‘we shot a tenth of that explosion and tomorrow…’. It’s a very different feeling. Ultimately, you try and get to the same thing. The camaraderie on set, of the Avengers themselves, was absolutely terrific. The only problem of them was that they would not. Stop. Talking. They were having so much fun…’Guys we have to shoot a film…will you please shut up’…That didn’t happen on Much Ado because we had twenty minutes to make the film.

Whedon praises his actors – most of whom he has worked with on previous projects – for their ability to handle the source material so well. He states, “A lot of them were classically trained, Alexis and Amy and Reed had theatre experience; and those who weren’t, I just had confidence in, particularly Nathan, who had no confidence in himself; which is an amazing thing to say about Nathan Fillion. He was very worried about it, and he tried to duck out of it. I was like ‘I’ll trim the part, I’ll take you out of that one scene where you don’t talk, but I don’t care how busy you are on Castle, you’re gonna do this!’ He closes the book on Dogberry. I can’t imagine a better version. But for some people it was a little bit new, and tricky; for some who hadn’t it came very naturally. Sean had also never done any Shakespeare and you would never know from the film. He’d also never played a bad guy, I was like ‘Whaaat’… you’re far too pretty not to have played a bad guy.” Fortunately, the filmmaker was lucky enough to get his perfect cast, stating: “You know, yeah I got pretty much everyone I wanted to. I had this idea of Claudio as a jock, as a warrior, and not as a huge wet. I forgot that Fran, when he played the nerd on Dollhouse or the stoner on Cabin, we had to layer tons of clothing on him to hide the fact that he’s incredibly buff. And he’s got such a gentle face and demeanour, you would never think of him as this kind of guy, but I couldn’t have been happier, I think he was absolutely the right guy for it. His commitment, to being a dick, was so great. And Clark I wanted for Leonato, he had fallen out and Tony Head was gonna do it, then he fell out, then Bradley Whitford fell out, everyone’s schedule kept not working. Then finally I called Clark again and said ‘so is that thing that you were doing still happening, in this month?’…he was like ‘You’re fucking kidding right?’ Those were his exact words. He said ‘Don’t you start shooting in three days?’ I was like ‘You can come over now!’ So yeah, I really got exactly who I wanted, even down to the first and second watchmen who I had never met but was just a fan of.

Undoubtedly, helming the largest grossing film of all time was a slight change of pace for Whedon. “At the very beginning of Avengers I had a little moment, and thought ‘Oh my God it’s bad…I have a lot of money…’ And, my wife said, ‘It’s just a story’, and the moment she said that I was done with worrying, and I never have since. The flip side of never worrying, is that when it blows up huge, you don’t really get to go ‘Yay’, because you think ‘That was the point. Wasn’t that what we were trying to do?’ And it did, more than I could have hoped. But, that’s because I didn’t hope. I couldn’t afford to think about numbers, because that would hamper my storytelling. All I can say is the first three weeks of doing The Avengers this was more like doing an internet musical than anything I’ve ever worked on: nothing was ready, the actors weren’t available; everything was being juggled at the last minute. Yep, here we are, it’s an internet musical. So you’re always one step ahead of the reaper, or the giant Indiana Jones ball. No matter what you’re working on. Any schedule will give you just not enough time.” Now having a little experience behind his belt, Whedon has been able to engage more fully with the entirety of the creative process second time around: “When I came in on Avengers the first time, the script had to just be thrown out. And so we were under the gun, with storyboarding sequences that I hadn’t even written yet. Which was frustrating, because you cannot let the ball overtake you. As talented as these people are - being some of the best in the business - your job is to be the storyteller, and you’re gonna get something generic if you don’t stay in front of it. Now, I feel like I have an opportunity to design scenes and set-pieces. Not that I didn’t design the ones that are in the first film, but now in a much more relaxed and holistic, and even possibly artistic way.

As Avengers 2 will not hit cinemas until 2015, it is too early to think about what other projects he will take on in the future. Despite being an avid fan, don’t count on another Shakespeare adaptation. “For years I wanted to do a film of Hamlet, until everybody else was, and so I tabled it. It would be delightful to do another film, with this exact cast, in that exact style; but I feel like part of the attraction of it was that it was something I had never done. It is no longer something I have never done and so my heart sort of goes more towards things that are untested, because one wants to challenge oneself, as one realises that one’s life is dwindling.

Finally, I asked Joss: If you could live the life of one of your characters for 24 hours, who would it be? To which he responded: “Well…Benedick gets to make out with Beatrice a lot…Gosh. I think I would probably go with Tony. His life doesn’t suck. I’m already as messed up as he is, so I may as well have a cool flying little suit.”

Joss Whedon's version of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is released in UK&Irish cinemas from Friday 14th June.

Sophie Stephenson

8 May 2013

interview with Devil's Business director Sean Hogan

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On the eve of the UK TV premiere of THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS on Horror Channel, Sean Hogan talks about the future of the horror film industry, the importance of a good script and his forthcoming doc on the UK comic 2000AD.

THE DEVIL’S BUSINESS is broadcast on Sat May 11, 22:55,

Q: How did The Devil’s Business come together?
SH: I’d been waiting a long time for another project to come together, and out of sheer frustration, I had a meeting with my producer Jen Handorf one night and proposed that we made something for very little money, just to get back in the saddle. I’d recently seen Down Terrace and really liked it, and my feeling was that you didn’t need a whole lot of money to make something, just a good script, talented actors and one location. So I sat down and wrote Devil’s Business to be done along those lines. What happened then was, the other project finally happened, but turned out to be a nightmare experience. So once the dust had settled, I really needed to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. So Jen proposed we went back to The Devil’s Business. It came together really quickly after that, we basically pulled it all together in a few months.

Q: Did the script take long to write?
SH: Not really. It was short, for one thing! And I was kind of on a roll when I wrote it; I’d written about five scripts already that year so the gears were well oiled. Besides, it really was one of those times where the characters took over and wrote themselves – it always sounds horribly pretentious when writers say that, but what can I tell you, it’s true! I normally outline much more than I did on Devil’s Business, but in this instance I just sat down and started writing with only a vague sense of what was going to happen. For instance, when I wrote Pinner’s monologue, I didn’t really know what he was going to say or how it would impact the rest of the film; all I knew was that he was going to tell a strange story. And it all just came flooding out. It certainly isn’t always that simple, so I have fond memories of writing it.

Q: Was it a hard movie to cast?
SH: No, we were fairly lucky in that department. We didn’t have a casting director, so it was largely a case of me and Jen scouring Spotlight and looking at showreels etc. That was how we found Billy Clarke, who played Pinner. He was the first person who read for the part and I just loved him immediately. Johnny Hansler was someone I’d auditioned for another film – he wasn’t right for that part but I made a note that if we ever did Devil’s he’d be great for Mr Kist, so we just made him an offer based on that. And Jack Gordon was a recommendation via his agency, who Jen had a working relationship with. Again, he just came in and rocked the audition. Easiest casting process I’ve ever had, despite the lack of resources.

Q: How did you go about funding for the film?
SH: It was private money. We wanted to control the production ourselves - because we’d had enough of meddling, crooked, incompetent executives – so Jen and I invested some money to get things going. And then we approached some other people we knew to kick in some cash as well. We knew that if we tried to get it made through official industry channels it would take forever and we’d have to put up with a ton of less-than-helpful script notes, so we made a decision we’d just do it our way – for less money, but with more control. It was hard work doing it on the budget, but the actual experience of doing it with no outside interference was sheer bliss.
Q: The film picked up some great reviews including one that stated “…smart British horror has a touch of the Roald Dahl to it” that’s quite a compliment.
SH: We were very happy with the response, without a doubt. From my perspective, I had no idea how the film would be received; it was just cathartic to make it. I figured that it was such a small production that it might easily disappear without a trace. And besides, it isn’t really a conventional horror film in many ways; it’s quite dialogue-driven and character-based, which always puts some people off. So I was definitely steeling myself for the worst. But then we premiered it at FrightFest and got wonderful reviews, and it went on from there. So I was delighted – I’ve had bad luck with UK distribution in the past, so to get that sort of a reaction was very rewarding. And it definitely made everyone’s hard work worth it.

Q: You must be pleased that the film is getting its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel?
SH: Certainly am. Again, if you’d said to me when we were shooting it that the film would eventually play cinemas, come out on DVD and then show on TV, I’d have probably asked you what you were on and where could I get some. The Horror Channel has been very supportive of me and so I’m really pleased we’ve found a home here.

Q: What state do you think the British horror movie industry is in?
SH: It’s very tough, certainly at an independent level. DVD sales are down and whilst I think VOD will eventually take up the slack, it isn’t there yet. But horror is reliant on those sorts of areas to make it viable. So you get a lot of distributors asking you to make something along the lines of what was successful last year. Which I hate hearing, not least because that never works. I’ve certainly been asked to make something similar to Kill List, for instance. But Kill List was successful because it wasn’t like anything else at the time, and if you just try and copy that, the audience will smell it a mile off. And anyway, we kept getting compared to Kill List anyway, so why would I want to do that again? I honestly think a lot of it comes down to a lack of respect for the genre; a lot of industry people just see it as product and not worth any serious consideration. Therefore you get a lot of crap being made, just because it ticks certain commercial boxes. And so if you want to do something different, you run into difficulty. But there are definitely good UK filmmakers out there, so I just hope that everyone keeps plugging away and making films one way or another. Because if history shows us anything, it’s that good horror usually comes out of the independent sector anyway.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a director or work in the horror industry?
SH: It’s obvious, but my primary point is always to pay attention to your script. The writing really isn’t worth a damn in most horror films. And yet it costs no money to get your characters and dialogue written properly. So if you can’t write, find someone who can. Similarly, cast good actors – they may not be famous names, but you can certainly find people who can act. Trust me, it’s easy if the script is good – actors are desperate for quality material. Don’t make something that’s just by the numbers – we’ve all seen the classic horror films, doesn’t mean we want to see slavish copies/homages. Figure out what really scares you and put it onscreen – because if it scares you then odds are it will scare someone else. And for god’s sake yes, please try and be scary. Rape and torture are not scary, and I’m so incredibly bored with how much of that we’re seeing right now. It’s easy to be upsetting, but it’s not easy to be scary.

Q: So what are you working on at the moment?
SH: Jen and I are developing a script called No Man’s Land, which is a horror movie set in the trenches of WWI. We’ve had a lot of interest over that, so I’m hopeful we can get that going this year. I’m attached to a bunch of other projects as well, but that’s where I’m focusing right now. I’m also producing a documentary called Future Shock!, which tells the story of the legendary UK comic 2000AD. That’s proving to be a lot of fun, and the response to us making it has been great. That should be ready sometime next year.

Sean Hogan, thank you very much.
Read our review of the Devil's Business here.

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 |

25 March 2013

Chillerama - Adam Green Interview

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Adam ‘Hatchet Man’ Green talks about the future of the genre, why he turned about ABC’s Of Death, his new movie inspired by the artist Alex Pardee and courting controversy as CHILLERAMA gets its Horror Channel UK TV premiere on Sat 30th March at 10.55pm

Q: Your story for Chillerama could be looked at as being controversial by some, how did you pitch it to the other directors?

AG: Actually, Adam Rifkin pitched me the title (The Diary Of Anne Frankenstein) when the four of us first met up to discuss potentially doing this project. He said, “Green, you’re Jewish- you should do Anne Frankenstein.” I said, “But Rifkin, you’re Jewish, too. Why don’t you take that one?” He replied, “Yeah, but what if instead you did it?” And that was sort of it. Though the phrase “the diary of Anne Frankenstein” is a joke that’s been around for decades, I have to admit I was still scared to death of it at first. I mean, who wants to touch that title with a ten-foot pole? Unfortunately, we live in a world full of people who literally seek out reasons to be offended and who love nothing more than to be “outraged” so that they can get attention. Especially coming off of Hatchet 2 and all of the controversy I had just lived through with that film’s public battle with the MPAA and its assassination from cinemas here in the US… the last thing I wanted was to be put in the spotlight for ridiculous negative reasons again. However, I immediately came up with the idea of doing a piece that would be a complete mockery of Hitler and not something that could possibly be taken seriously.

Q: To me its Monty Python at its creative peek meets classic Universal horror, would you agree?

AG: Wow. That’s a very big compliment and yes, that was exactly what I was going for. I walk away from every screening feeling so incredibly proud of the piece. Reviews, awards, and accolades… those are all nice. But as a comedian, there is no feeling of accomplishment greater than hearing an audience howl with laughter to the point that they drown out the film itself. You can’t fake laughter like that. There are no politics or agendas behind that kind of uproarious laughter. It’s the most primal and real reaction you can hope to get and when it happens universally across oceans and language barriers… it’s a wonderful thing.

Q: Do you think the horror genre is in good health at the moment?

AG: I’m excited to see what the next decade will hold. Looking back, filmmakers my age who came onto the scene in the past ten years or so were saddled with some very difficult hurdles. Not only was the “trend” all about remakes over originals (both with the studios who churned the remakes out and the fans who supported them in droves) but we also saw the indie financing industry take a nosedive with budgets and distribution as internet piracy wreaked havoc on us. There was never a harder time than this past decade to get an original (decent budgeted) horror movie made and distributed. But now that remakes have kind of run their course they’re now out of recognizable titles to remake and people are starting to see the light about internet piracy I am optimistic that more and more original horror movies will get a chance to be made and to be seen. As a genre- we’re always alive and well. Horror will never die and we will always survive the passing trends because we’re a “community” unlike fans of other genres. Just walk by the “sleepy queue” for FrightFest later this summer and look at the die hard fans standing in line over-night for tickets (not even knowing 100% what the programming will exactly be yet). Of course we’re fine! We’ve got zombies! The rest of ya’ll are f***** though.

Q: You must be pleased Chillerama is getting its UK premiere on the Horror Channel?

AG: I’ve had a very special connection with the UK audience ever since Hatchet first premiered at UK FrightFest in 2006 and so I’m always especially excited when a new film of mine premieres across the pond. The Horror Channel has been incredibly supportive of my career over the years so this is like a double-win. Who knows? Perhaps Holliston will wind up on the Horror Channel when it arrives in the UK? You never know!

Q: Would you like to be part of another anthology film such as the recent ABCs Of Death?

AG: I was approached for “ABC’s Of Death” when they first started putting the project together but I passed. I was in the middle of post-production on Chillerama when they started assembling their team of directors and the thought of doing another anthology film at that time just wasn’t appealing to me, as fun as the project sounded and as terrific as the people behind it were. While I can never say “never”, right now another anthology just isn’t in the cards for me. Remember, with Chillerama I didn’t just write and direct a segment. My company (ArieScope Pictures) also produced it and put the money and distribution together to make it happen. That’s a hell of a lot of responsibility/heartache and so I couldn’t just make my segment and “let the chips fall where they may”. When you produce a film it is essentially an STD for your company. It never goes away and it is never really over. Wait, did I really just compare Chillerama to syphilis? Yup. Have at it, critics and haters. You’re welcome for that one.

Q: How much involvement have you had with Hatchet III?

AG: I wrote it, I produced it, I’m presenting it, I cast most every actor in it, I was there for every step of pre-production, filming, and post-production, I surrounded our new director with my incredible ArieScope crew, and I had final cut of the film. So let’s just say that it won’t feel like I ever left. If you’re a fan of the first two films I think you’re going to really like what we did with Hatchet III.

Q: So what are you working on at the moment?

AG: Right now I’m finishing up post-production on the second season of my television series Holliston. It’s a massive undertaking each season given that I wear so many hats on the show (writing every episode, being the show runner, directing, and playing one of the main four characters) but it’s far and away my favourite and the most personal project I’ve ever done. Holliston is an absolute joy to work on and I go to work every day surrounded by only my closest of friends. I’m so excited that we’ll soon be starting the process of bringing the series to the rest of the world and we’re all blown away by how quickly and passionately the audience in America embraced this show and this cast. Next week I kick off my tour in support of Hatchet III and the launch of Season 2 of Holliston so I’m basically in a different place every weekend until the end of summer/early Fall. I’m also in the process of shooting Digging Up The Marrow, a “documentary” (kinda) about monsters (sorta) that is inspired by the art of the insanely talented artist, Alex Pardee. We’re keeping the details of that one under wraps for now, but what I can say is that collaborating with a genius like Alex has proved to be a completely soul inspiring and creative re-awakening for not only myself, but for my core crew as well.

Adam Green, thank you very much.

TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 |

16 October 2012


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Martin Kemp, the famed actor/musician has turned his hand to horror, bringing us his impressive directorial debut STALKER.  It’s not often that a woman stalks another woman in this genre and here Jane March, who found fame in ‘The Lover’, plays the part of a psychotic female to chilling perfection.

Kemp talks about being a horror fan, why he prefers directing to acting and compares his experience in the Celebrity Big Brother House to ‘The Thing’.

You wrote the screenplay for Stalker, where did the inspiration for the story come from?

Jonathan Sothcott, the producer, came to me asking me to rewrite the seventies movie ‘The House On Straw Hill’, but after looking at it I decided to just take a seed from it and send it on to a different journey, but the basic principle is still there. 

Are you a big horror fan?

Love horror, from the moment I saw Boris Karloff in the Mummy, to The Omen... They keep me on the edge of my seat.

How did you go about casting the movie or did you have people in mind whilst writing?

Casting was easy as we always knew we wanted Jane March and it was a matter of fitting the other parts around her.

Did you have a large budget to play with?

LARGE! I wish. This was tiny even compared to tiny budgets.....but we made the most of what we had.

The film has a gothic chill to it and a bloody climax, are you happy the way the film turned out? 

As happy as you can be! always when you make anything you wished you could go back and shoot it again, or paint or make it again...its only natural!

Did you have to cut any scenes due to time or budget restrictions?

We cut the most expensive scene as it goes because it ended up looking to Dr Who rather than gothic horror!

What was the atmosphere like on set?

The atmosphere was great, but it has to be on low budget, everyone has to chip’s the only way!

Stalker is getting its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel, how do you feel about that?

Thrilled it’s on the Horror’s the home of all great horrors!

Where are you at your happiest when working? Is it acting, playing on stage, writing or directing?

I am by far at my happiest encompasses everything I love...Music, drama, photography and people!

If you were given the chance would you like to tackle a remake of a classic horror? If so which one would you choose and why?

A remake of a classic Horror...I would love to make ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ – a great mix of horror and romance.

Will you be directing more horror movies in the future and what projects are you working on at the moment?

There is a fantastic project I’m working on at the moment, but you know what it’s like ....I will tell you about it when it’s signed and sealed

You’ve recently come out of the Big Brother house, that must have been a bizarre experience? Did this give you any inspiration for a movie?

A couple of times it was like being on the set of The Thing..... it was fun.

Martin Kemp, thank you

A pleasure.

Stalker premieres on the Horror Channel Oct 19 at 10.55pm

9 October 2012

Simon Rumley (Red, White And Blue) Interview

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Last year The Horror Channel premiered Simon Rumley’s stunning piece of award-winning cinema, The Living And The Dead and this month they are giving his equally astonishing and controversial movie Red White And Blue its UK TV premiere on Oct 20 at 10.55pm
Set in Austin, Texas, this dark love story follows the disaffected and promiscuous Erica (Amanda Fuller - Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as she sleeps with a series of nameless men, until she is befriended by Nate (Noah Taylor - Submarine, The Proposition), an ex-Iraq war veteran with a sociopathic streak.  Nate, seems interested in Erica for more than just sex - but when one of her previous partners, hard-rocking mamma’s boy Franki (Marc Senter) resurfaces, Erica’s actions come back to haunt her, leading to a terrifying climax which has shocked audiences worldwide.

Rumley talks about his deeply shocking yet tenderly moving film, what it was like shooting the movie in America and why distributors are confounded by his work.

Red White and Blue is very different to your film The Living And The Dead, where did the idea come from?

SR: It came from a mixture of personal fears, reading about crazy events on the internet, wanting to do another horror film that wasn’t obviously classifiable as a horror film and also wanting to make a film that was, like The Living And The Dead, equally tragic and disturbing…

Why set it in America?

SR: I'd been wanting to shoot a film for a long time in America and it seemed like the perfect setting for the film. Some films can work well in different countries but some are very country specific and I felt this wouldn't work in the same way in the UK as it would in America. There's a filmic classicism to neon lights and wide open spaces and the flipside of the American Dream which, naturally, we don't get in the UK.

What was it like shooting in Austin, Texas?

SR: Fantastic. Austin is such an excellent city and the people are so friendly and welcoming and laid back and cool in the best possible sense of the word. One of the reasons we went to Austin was because my friend Tim League and his wife Karrie, lived there. They own a bunch of cinemas called the Alama Drafthouse and pretty much know everyone there is to know so I knew if we ever got into trouble or needed help they'd be able to help us. As well as filming in peoples' houses and diners and bars, we also had a ton of local extras and our whole crew apart from the DP and editor were locals. It was a tough shoot and they really stepped up to the challenge really well.

It's a raw and very gritty piece, set very much in the real world. Would you agree this is where horror works best?

SR: Absolutely - escapist horror can be fun at times but for me, if I don't believe the situation and the characterization then usually I'm not emotionally affected which means I'm not scared and/or I'm not disturbed. Certainly for me, most my favourite horror films are based in a believable reality whether it be Freaks or The Omen.

The cast is outstanding, Amanda Fuller as Erica and Noah Tyler as Nate bring a brutal and heartbreaking honesty to their roles. Did you write the parts with these actors in mind?

SR: No; I'd never heard of Amanda before we cast her in the film but when I saw her audition and then met her, it did feel like the part had been written for her. Once I'd written the script and we started casting, Noah was my first choice for Nate. Although most people are bowled over by his performance, they're also slightly dumbfounded by the initial casting of him as such a character. I've been a massive fan ever since I saw him in his debut feature The Year My Voice Broke and although he's never played anyone so dark, I always felt he had a quirkiness and a darkness that hadn't been previously explored.

The characters are very "damaged" in different ways and you don't pull away from showing the audience how much. Do you censor yourself at all as you create a script?

SR: Good question! I generally don't censor myself but after Red White And Blue and my two anthology features I've done in the last few years (Little Deaths and The ABC's Of Death) I'm now making a deliberate effort to work on scripts which aren't as 'tough' because although they go down well with the audiences, most the film industry, that being sales agents and distributors, are usually confounded by my films because they're so uncompromising. I'm now writing scripts which are still very much my ideas but which are more 'identifiable' as product that can be bought or sold; sadly, what directors make is and always will be seen as a commodity by many.

What was the atmosphere like on set?

SR: It was actually pretty great. Everyone was really friendly and did their job really well. Initially people were a bit sceptical that we'd get everything shot in time but when we started picking up the pace, everyone loved it and had no time to do much apart from concentrate. Both the producer and I agreed it was the most harmonious set we'd worked on.

There's quite a twist to the story, was this to give it an extra layer, a moral in fact?

SR: Yep, absolutely - if it's the ending you're talking about - the very last shot in fact. I thought that justified Nate's actions even more and made the whole thing even more tragic; personally I thought it was a pretty devastating ending although I'm not sure what everyone else thought!

Red White And Blue is getting its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel, how do you feel about that?

SR: Very excited. The Horror Channel used to be a bit goofy but nowadays it has the best selection of both contemporary and older horror of any channel in the UK so it's a must for any self-respecting horror fan.

What's your honest opinion of horror cinema at the moment, is it in good health?
SR: I think there's more interesting and unique horror directors around now than there have been in a long time and all you have to do is look at the ABCs Of Death to view the breadth of what's on offer. That said, I think much horror is still stuck repeating older formulae as well working on remakes and sequels. Even though there haven't been many fantastic horror films in the last few years, I still think it's a very exciting time generally for the genre.

So what projects are you working on at the moment?
SR: Well, as discussed, I've just finished The ABCs Of Death which premiered at the Toronto film festival. Beyond that I have a few projects which seem close to happening and a few which I'm still developing...

Simon Rumley, thank you very much.

SR: Thank you!

Red White And Blue premieres on the Horror Channel Oct 20 at 10.55pm

25 July 2012

Searching For Sugar Man Interview - Malik Bendjelloul

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There’s an engaging enthusiasm about Malik Bendjelloul that seems so apparent that it almost comes as a bit of a surprise to hear something negative from him, “I don’t really like music documentaries.” It’s even more curious considering the young Swede is the Director behind the music documentary of the year. The Mediterranean looking Scandinavian sees himself primarily as a storyteller and it was the strength of the story at the centre of his debut feature Searching for Sugar Man that took him from obscurity to being the toast of Sundance where his film picked up two awards and became the first film bought at the festival. He may even have resurrected the career of a forgotten great of 70’s rock in the process.

Rodriguez is the greatest rock icon you’ve never heard and the subject of Malik Bendjelloul’s film. Far from being a bloated tale of the success and excess of an established household name squeezing the last drops of ‘unseen footage’ out of a tired story and onto a fanboy audience, the secrecy that surrounds Rodriguez is the films appeal and the feature would never have come to light had Bendjelloul not chanced on an incredible story while in South Africa. “I had spent six months travelling around Africa looking for a story.” He explains, “Then I heard this one and it was like, wow! That’s the best story I’ve ever heard!”

Told to him by a record store owner and Rodriguez enthusiast Stephen Segerman, he heard the remarkable story of the enigmatic musician – a Detroit resident where he worked as a labourer in construction. Discovered by well established producers (at the time working with the likes of Marvyn Gaye and Stevie Wonder) Rodriguez recorded and released two albums, Cold fact in 1970 and Coming From Reality the following year. Those involved in the process were convinced of its brilliance, believing Cold Fact to be the masterpiece of their collective careers. Big things were promised to Rodriguez but none were to materialise and he soon sank without a trace, selling little to nothing in America. Nothing remarkable there – for every band that makes it there’s a thousand cutting their losses playing weddings and pubs across the world - but it’s the second stage of this mythical career where things take a turn for the sensational.

Somehow a bootleg copy of Cold Fact found its way to Apartheid-era South Africa, laying roots for unprecedented success ensuring Rodriguez became bigger than the likes of Elvis Pressley and The Rolling Stones. Due to the cultural boycott on South Africa and their cocooned lifestyle in their cut-off country, little was known of Rodriguez and reports of a grotesque onstage suicide began to emerge, “He was as dead and as famous as Jimi Hendrix” as Bendjelloul puts it. Segerman and fellow muso Craig Bartholomew set out to discover more about their elusive, much loved and presumed dead hero and hearing their tale, the storyteller instinct in Malik Bendjelloul knew he had his film. “If you have a wonderful story, people are happy to hear it. The more times your jaw drops when you hear a story the better it is this one my jaw was dropping all the time.”

Leaving South Africa enthralled and determined to start making what was initially to be a half hour TV documentary to be shown in his native Sweden, Bendjelloul became hesitant about listening to Rodriguez “It couldn’t possibly live up to my love for the story but I listened and it was great, some of the most beautiful songs ever to be on record I think. The superlatives work.” And in South Africa especially, there are certainly superlatives abound when it comes to Rodriguez. “He is considered better and as popular as Dylan and The Doors, these are rock Gods, he is not just a popular guy, no, and he is the one.”

It was after hearing the records that the Bendjelluol too became convinced and knew he had enough to transform the 30 minute TV piece into his first feature length film, succeeding in unearthing a musical great.

Rodriguez’s music sounds so encased in the time, so much like other important voices of the time that his disappearance into obscurity becomes hard to comprehend. “That is the real mystery” agrees Bendjelloul, “it isn’t why is he big in South Africa but why isn’t he big in America.”

His film touches on the parallels in these cross-continent countries that acted in opposite ways to determine Rodriguez’s career trajectory. Unknown too many outside the bubble of Apartheid South Africa, there was a strong white liberal counter-movement that opposed the divided regime and this is where Rodriguez’s songs of struggle first found an audience.

Rodriguez sang ‘the system’s gonna fall soon to an angry young tune’ almost aiming at musicians saying ‘you can do stuff about this’ and they did – the first movement was white guys picking up guitars and singing songs against Apartheid and they all said Rodriguez was the guide for that so he was kind of changing a country without even knowing where he was aiming!

America too was undergoing a Civil Rights movement but here in his native country, Rodriguez was unable to find an audience and while mainstream America had found room for white and black artists it still struggled to accept any blurred lines. “If you had a Mexican name like Rodriguez you should be doing Mexican music, mariachi or something. He was seriously challenging the white rock scene and at that time in the US that was a road you weren’t allowed to go down.” His Latino name was unlikely to break into mainstream commercial radio in America and crucially that determined his US fate. It’s a fate that Bendjelloul is understandably optimistic will be viewed far differently now, “Hopefully the music is going to be re-evaluated and becomes something that people know of, one of those stories that everybody knows of because it’s one of the great artists of the 70’s, he really is. He’s never played to more than 300 people in the U.S now he’s going to be a legend there”. And as proof, if needed, he adds “he’s playing Letterman next week!”.

Perhaps there are similar redemptive qualities to Bendjelloul own story making this film. Turned away from all financiers he had to go it alone, working for 5 years on an all consuming debut film. “I never got a cent so all these things – original score, animation, editing – I did on my kitchen table. I wanted to, otherwise it’d never be finished. All the funding dropped out, it was a mess, it was horrible. I fought for 4 years to make this the way I wanted it.” When he finally received help from Man on Wire producers Simon Chinn and John Battsek, it was his D.I.Y process that surprisingly they were keen to keep with the majority coming from circumstance “the idea was to have a lot of that (animation and landscape shots) since he wasn’t famous so there was no footage and his family didn’t have a video camera there was nothing really to start with.”

Far from being bruised by the exhaustive process, Bendjelloul remains characteristically upbeat and adamant that should be as little studio collaboration as possible to truly tell your story, “It is nice to have friends and be able to talk to someone, maybe I should but there’s something very nice about it on your own, you have your kitchen table and you do the whole thing and you do it your way, everything you want. Also that’s why you do a film, otherwise you can work somewhere for someone and get a salary but this way you don’t get any money or anything but what you do get is the feeling that this is your baby.”

So can B too claim a small victory against the bigger industry giant? “Yeah it’s fantastic, it’s insane. There are so many people opposed to you who almost try and make it not happen and now it’s opening in over 100 cities in the US and sold in 25 countries.” After such staggering success it’s not surprising that the idea of travelling the world once more for another story sounds appealing “Maybe I will, it’s a very pleasurable way of research.” As it turns out, it’s also an incredibly effective one.

Searching For The Sugar Man will be released in UK&Ireland by Studio Canal July 26th.

Matthew Walsh

14 July 2012

An interview with Bobcat Goldthwait and Joel Murray on their new film God Bless America

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As Interviewer makes its way into the hotel suite, it is immediately clear the subjects are in good spirits. After a few minutes of quiet chatter between Bobcat Goldthwait and Joel Murray regarding a debate on whose water is whose, Joel silences the speculation and informs Bobcat the matter has been taken care of, and a roofie has been slipped into the appropriate glass.
    “Here’s looking up my ass,” said Bobcat, as Interviewer flicks on its dictaphone just in time to capture this unique exchange.
    Joel is looking a little fatigued as he reclines in the sofa he shares with Bobcat. His right arm seems drawn to the lower right side of the jaw. His already deadpan tone is made even more difficult to hear with the addition of the muffling hand. Between Bobcat and Joel the two seem rather excited to talk about their new film God Bless America.
    “Last night I was in a bar in Belfast and people kept coming up to me that just love the film and every one of them pirated the movie. I was like, ‘Well that’s great, I’m glad you enjoyed the mov---, buy me a fucking drink.’” In spite of this backhanded complement, Joel seems pretty happy about the audience reaction. He is quick to add that those who may be disappointed in the film because they were expecting a different should just go ahead and make the movie they wanted and stop griping.
    “I think some folks just wanted it to be a vigilante movie where we just kill reality stars for the 90 minutes and that’s it,” Bobcat said. This wouldn’t be a terrible movie but it would completely change the message the director is aiming to get across. “If you’re the kind of person who is uncomfortable with that idea or can’t even comprehend they may be part of the problem, you’re not going to enjoy the movie.”
    Beginning with a comically gruesome scene of obliterating a baby with a shotgun, the film bypasses the shock-and-awe approach to keep the audience’s focus on the message of the film.
    “I remember something Carl Reiner said,” Bobcat said, “’You can do anything in a movie, anything…as long as you establish it in the first five minutes.’”
Joel plays Frank, a man who is tired of all the reality shows on TV and moronic talk-show hosts spewing garbage out of his car’s speakers. If they’re not busy talking about someone humiliating themselves in front of a large audience they are helping the humiliation take place. Divorced and jobless, Frank learns there is an inoperable tumour inside his brain, which will eventually kill him. He contemplates suicide before making the decision to kill people who deserve to die, like people who talk in movie theatres. Frank teams up with a young girl, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) who is also fed up with her own generation’s lack of shame and decency, and the two set out to rid the world of assholes.
It quickly becomes apparent Bobcat is absolutely right about the people who might not enjoy the film. Following Frank and Roxy’s combined logic, each would be doomed to suffer the same fate as their victims. They too are human and occasionally cross the line of being apart of the problem in today’s culture rather than being apart of the solution.
“You know what’s funny? A lot of stuff was in the script. People who think I’m just sitting at home and I’m bitter about stuff…this wasn’t just a list… Some of it was in the script some it kept changing,” said Bobcat. He goes on to mention that if this had been a movie that was just about his list of people to die he wouldn’t have included reality television, he would have just taken a bomb to the MTV building and blown it up. One person who Bobcat seems to address outright is Diablo Cody who was saddened by the director’s jibes in the film and thought of her a Bobcat as “kindred spirits.” It seemed only fair to ask if Bobcat felt like a bully Frank and Roxy might go after.
“No, no, I’ve been manipulated by hot women my whole life. I knew what she was doing, and it was bullshit,” Bobcat said. “I don’t get notes on content but someone did ask me to remove that line and at the time it was only one line so I went back home and wrote an entire page about why Diablo Cody sucks.”
Through all the anger and aggression this fanaticised plot does seem to be something Bobcat and Joel are proud to have made. Interviewer cannot help but notice the twinkle in Bobcat’s eye when it seems to grasp the message and irony of the film’s final scene. When it first asked for an outright answer Bobcat and Joel were in agreement that it was meant to be thrown back in the audiences lap.
“I’m asking the audience, ‘Are you in or are you out?’ So I think, the movie doesn’t work if you’re not used to empathizing with characters. That’s the thing people always say about the last three movies I’ve made, “It’s a one joke premise” and it’s one joke if you lack empathy,” said Bobcat.
In the case of God Bless America this really is a movie with a one joke premise. Through all their conversations and philosophising Frank and Roxy add action to each scene the only way they can, by killing someone. One scene breaks up this repetition when the gun is turned around on them in the form of Russian roulette. After spinning the chamber the gun makes it through all six shots before delivering the deafening blow. And when asked what this scene means, Interviewer couldn’t help but be disappointed with the answer.
“It’s just good light,” Joel said. “The sun was setting one day and it was beautiful light, I said, ‘Models pay big money to be shot in this. We’re waiting for dark? Let’s shoot something.’”
The relationship between Bobcat and Joel added to the conformability on set. The two have known each other since 1985 when they worked on the film One Crazy Summer and have been friends every since. This led to Bobcat’s casting of the lesser known of the Murray brothers. Yes, Joel is the little brother of Bill and Brian Doyle-Murray.
“Having Joel meant that I had another set of eyes. You know Joel’s a director and a writer,” said Bobcat. “One of the good things about working with your friends and working with the right person for the job is that you’re not trying to get a performance out of someone, everybody agrees already.” Helping with Tara also because one of Joel’s jobs while on set since this was her first major role in a feature film.
And Joel seemed more than willing to help in anyway he could while still understanding this was Bobcat’s movie. Now and again he would help with deciding how a scene should play out while also taking what Bobcat has given him to go on. After his killing spree as Frank, it seems only natural that more lead roles will be coming in for this talented actor.
“Oh yea [sarcastically],” said Joel. “If I could stay away from the bacon and the blood sausage. I was with my brother the past couple days and he was giving me a hard time for gaining a bunch of weight from quitting smoking and being in Ireland. [His Bill Murray impression] ‘Charles Bronson wasn’t really a good looking man, so you should maybe get into really good shape because you could do this kind of action. So you should uh put that down.’ Just abusing me for days about I should loose some weight and I’ll get on that.”
Joel is content to have a laugh at the thought though he does mention a confident — perhaps slightly unrealistic — outlook for the future. “I haven’t heard anything yet. I thought there’d be this huge…I always have visions of grandeur that never come…maybe when I get back to LA and more people will have seen [God Bless America]. But now, no, it hasn’t been this whirlwind of offers.”
As Interviewer is told to begin packing up its belongings, it can no longer contain the question that has been dancing around its thoughts for the entirety of the interview. Bobcat has proven himself to be a very entertaining director who tackles different subjects with a unique style. This was not always the case as Bobcat rose to fame through his stand-up comedy and his nervous, off-the-wall voice. Will you do the voice?
“I’d be too embarrassed. Isn’t that weird? It’s like my porn past or something,” Bobcat said. Pleading with him does little more than coheres nervous laughter from him as Joel mentions the voice only coming out when he gets really nervous. As Interviewer shuffles out of the suite, it can’t be more pleased to have interviewed these two very funny individuals. Like walking away from a conversation too early, there seems like so many other things that could have been talked about in the careers of these men.

God Bless America is out now on DVD&Blu-ray, Read our DVD Review

5 July 2012

Trishna - Riz Ahmed Interview

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This Monday 9th July will see the release of Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna on DVD and Blu Ray which is a modern adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic Tess of the d’Ubervilles moving from bleak 19th Century Industrial England to modern day Rajahstan, India. To promote the film’s release on July 9th on DVD & Blu-Ray our good friends at Artificial Eye have sent a very interesting in depth interview with the British Actor. Yesterday was Frieda Pinto and you can read her interview here, fancy winning the film on DVD? We have 5 copies of the film to give away enter here!

Q: How did you get involved in the project? We know you’ve worked with Michael before, take us through the process and tell us why you wanted to be a part of it?
A: Michael randomly got in touch and invited me for lunch and a catch up and told me he had adapted ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and that he wanted to set it in modern India, crossing classes and cultures. In his usual informal relaxed way, he offered me the role and I said yes of course!

Q: Who is Jay? What sort of background does he come from? What motivates him? Is his privilege and lack of ‘hunger’ his curse?
A: He’s the youngest son of a rich Indian businessman. He’s in his mid-20s and he hasn’t managed to step out of his father’s shadow and really make his own way or make a success of his life on his own terms. He suffers from the lost rich kid syndrome. He’s on this trip to India from Britain with his friends as a last kind of blow out before he stays on in India to run some of his father’s newly acquired hotels in Rajasthan. He’s frustrated because he has to slot into that role rather than have his own projects and that both haunts and drives him as a character and ultimately the project he finds and latches onto is Trishna herself. He seeks her out and tries to develop her, to satisfy his own needs and make something his own.

In some ways you could say his privilege is a curse in the sense that he’s got a lot to live up to. But in other ways, he does try to break away in his own direction when he goes to Bombay. He’s only able to do that and have that financial independence because of his wealth. It’s more that he fails in that and it’s more about the family and where he’s coming from being bigger than him. I feel a major theme in the film is about where you’re coming from. It explores that magnetic and gravitational pull and the momentum you can try and drum up of your own accord. Trishna’s background is something she can never really get away from. Similarly for Jay, his position of minor heir to the business means that he gets sucked back into it and responsibility comes knocking at his door. That’s the start of his decline and when he realizes he’s failed to strike out in his own direction, Trishna becomes this kind of toy and symbol of his failure every time he sees her.

Q: Does he really fall in love with Trishna?
A: Yes, but I guess we’ve been talking from the point of view of the macro themes and where he’s coming from means there’s a tragic outcome to the relationship. But, on a personal level, there is something there and he’s completely bewitched by Trishna. She represents the ideal of an innocent woman for him – the virgin maid and it is a kind of love. When they’re in Bombay they are in love, but the limitations in the relationship come from the gap between them being so vast.

There’s only so much they can talk about – their world views only overlap to a certain extent. At the point where they’re talking about the abortion that’s something that really frustrates Jay, because Trishna didn’t make her own mind up about that and she kept it from him. I guess honour trumps honestly and openness for Trishna. There is love between them but as with every relationship, what makes up that love is lots of different things. Maybe for Jay at the beginning, he almost over-idealizes her, he sees her as a way of re-connecting with his ethnic background and to reconnect with something pure and innocent and something that’s his own. The limitations of all those things in the relationship start emerging and he feels he’s failed in his own life.

Q: Did you read Tess of the D’Urbervilles before embarking on this film?
A: After Michael told me about the film, that was when I read the book but I hadn’t read it previous to that. At first I thought it was kind of daunting to try and combine two great characters from literature but what became clear was that it wasn’t going to be a literal adaptation of Hardy’s novel. Angel’s love for Tess is pure whilst Alec’s is a more selfish love. In the novel they’re never really on the scene at the same time so that meant we could take on the spirit or psychology of one character and then at different stages in the story, introduce the other. To begin with, Jay idealizes Trishna in the same way that Angel idealizes Tess. He sees her as a pure woman and views the experience as a return to a natural way and all that is good and pure. When Jay is at the hotel with his friends, he spots this girl from the village and this real obsessive but full-blooded love emerges and at this point we see Angel’s spirit of his affection for her, but what we start to get is a gradual decline into Alec. Having a novel to base the characters and ideas on gives you a rich armoury for you to draw on. If we’d have been too faithful to the novel, we’d have all gone mad!

Q: There are strong similarities between Hardy’s England and what’s happening in India right now. Can we explore that?
A: Yes, that’s a very interesting thing to draw on. India is changing at break- neck speed with modernization, industrialization and mass migration from the countryside into more urban centres and we explore how the old world and new world are rubbing up against each other. The idea of morality is very pertinent because it’s very important to point out that some western audiences may find themselves slightly confused as to why Trishna feels embarrassed about sleeping with Jay and why she feels she needs to run away and why she feels mortified at having had the abortion. This is all a big deal for her. The issue is about traditional morality and that’s what it’s like in large swathes of the world to this day, where sex before marriage and having children out of wedlock is still a huge deal and that shame can destroy a family in terms of their public standing. Maybe people need to realize that’s a reality when they’re watching the film.

Q: You filmed in India with a small crew, on real locations and there was a lot of improvisation. What were the challenges and what were the joys of that?
A: Working with Michael, there’s always a very small crew, it’s a very intimate and very informal experience. Michael never calls action or cut. It’s a very relaxed, gentle, natural process in term of the atmosphere created for the actors. For the production crew I guess it’s not so relaxed – it’s crazy that’s because there’s so much that’s being achieved and Michael has very high standards and he’s a real stickler for authenticity. The burden of that kind of pressure probably falls on the production but for the actors it’s a really unique experience. There’s no right or wrong – you just have to embrace the fact that you don’t know what the hell’s going happen because there isn’t really a script and you’ve got a very basic idea and you just jump into it and that’s the whole nature of improvising and the nature of working with Michael.

Q: What was it like taking on your first romantic lead?
A: I guess I’d never really thought about it being a romantic lead. It’s a romantic story but also a tragedy and a drama. From my point of view I try to make the characters I play as complicated for myself as possible so I don’t have to have a very clear grip on who they are day-to-day on set, so you get a fuller picture of them at the end of the film. That’s also part of how it is working with Michael – not having a rigid, fixed view of the characters. We had a lot of long conversations and you can build up this very intricate back story to the character – what books he might read, what music he’d like to listen to, how growing up was for him and you concoct this back story but in terms of how the character would be at the end of the journey you can’t really control that kind of thing. So, I guess that’s a very long way of saying I never really thought of it as a romantic lead!

Q: What was it like working with Freida?
A: A lot of fun – she’s a very cool girl. I think she’s an incredibly instinctive and natural actress. She’s very generous and there’s minimal fuss with her. Working with her is one of the easiest processes because she’s incredibly self-sufficient. She’s generous about giving you space and time to develop your character. For me it’s ideal to work with someone like that, particularly when you’re working with Michael and the process is one where things change and evolve and everything’s very flexible. Michael wants you to be natural and that creates a really nice atmosphere on set.

Q: Trishna is more complex than Jay gives her credit for. How does he view her?
A: Yeah, it’s not that he judges her but it’s almost like at certain points he feels that he has to give up. Because of the different cultures they’re coming from, he feels that her mind is unknowable. If he presses her on why she didn’t tell him about certain things or why certain things happened, she won’t speak her mind in an articulate way to allow him to understand her. There’s an extent to which Jay feels really frustrated with that – especially how passive she can be. I don’t think Jay thinks Trishna is simple-minded, he just feels she’s hard to get to grips with and it’s hard to know what’s really going on in her head. He gets more and more frustrated at how passive she is and how she won’t complain and won’t stand her ground. She won’t challenge him on why he left her in Bombay and she won’t say why she didn’t tell him about the abortion. On a personal level he’s frustrated with how passive she is so he tries to provoke her out of her passivity. He wants to know what she really thinks. On another level he’s just really frustrated at how things have turned out for him and he’s deeply wounded by that. He’s had this lifestyle of entitlement but he starts lashing out at her. Ultimately he does provoke her and it destroys both of them – he takes it too far and I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.

3 July 2012

Trishna - Frieda Pinto Interview

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The last twelve months have been very eventful for young Indian Actress Frieda Pinto who hasn't really looked back since her acting debut in Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Last year the actress made a bigger name for herself mainstream with  Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Tarsem Singh’s Immortals this year she has taken a step back into more independent films. This Monday 9th July will see the release of Michael Winterbottom's Trishna on DVD and Blu Ray which is a modern adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic Tess of the d’Ubervilles moving from bleak 19th Century Industrial  England to modern day Rajahstan, India.

To promote the film's release on July 9th on DVD & Blu-Ray our good friends at Artificial Eye have sent a very interesting in depth interview with the actress. Of course these questions were not prepared by ourselves however the interview is very informative and worth a look. Stay tuned tomorrow for another interview this time with co-star Riz Ahmed, also watch out for a competition to win the film on DVD we're co-hosting with The Peoples Movies.

Q: Take us through the process of how you became involved in the project. What attracted you to it and to the role of Trishna?
A: When I was told that Michael Winterbottom would like to meet me to discuss his new film project, I obviously jumped on the opportunity. He is one of those rare directors who makes films by boldly attempting and embracing any given genre. I was already familiar with Thomas Hardy’s 19th century novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles and the idea of having it set in contemporary India was absolutely brilliant and apt. I was pining to sink my teeth into a hardcore independent project and Trishna came along.

Q: Who is Trishna?
A: According to our story, Trishna is the nineteen year-old daughter of a rickshaw driver. Since she’s had a taste of a little education, she doesn't entirely conform or fit into the traditional mould of thinking that her parents belong to. She leaves school and works at a hotel near her hometown of Ossian in Rajasthan to bring more money into the household. She is, however, determined to ensure that her younger siblings are given a good English middle school education. That’s something that she wishes she could have continued as well. She meets Jay while working at the hotel and falls in love with him and has a sometimes blissful, but mostly tumultuous relationship with him, which eventually leads us into their tragedy.

Q: Tell us about Trishna’s personal journey
A: Trishna for me, is the epitome of purity and suffering. Her journey can be divided into the three phases within the film. The first is her mundane family life in Ossian which starts changing only after she meets Jay. An unspoken passionate tension and subtle seduction rule this phase. The second phase is what I called "the Happy Phase" where both Jay and Trishna get temporary freedom from everything class-related, where they can just enjoy being together, uninhibited, in the city of Mumbai. They really discover each other during this time and are passionately in love. This is where Trishna, although she misses her family, is a lot more relaxed with Jay. The last phase is the most complex one of the story where Trishna has to face the inevitability of her fate with Jay and the fact that she would never be able to rise from her social class/status to be on the same level as him. In a way she would always have to submit to him in society. However, in their private moments while the love still exists, it slowly turns into sadistic torture especially for Trishna, which she swallows as a bitter pill. Finally, she is pushed over the edge and that’s when she decides she cannot take it anymore.

Trishna is constantly torn between her desire to adopt Jay's modernism and urbanity - which to some extent she does, and the traditional family values and rural roots that she finds hard to ignore. Therein lies her conflict. She does find it very liberating when Jay comes back looking for her and takes her to Mumbai. But there’s a certain sadness in the fact that she never fully fits into that setting but is nonetheless happy to try. When Jay finally takes her back to Rajasthan after finding out that she has been hiding a secret from him, she is in a way made to accept the unfairness that she has always been subjected to. To sum up her journey throughout the film in short, she’s almost there but never really there.

Q: Tell us about her relationship with Jay
A: Jay in our film is the embodiment of both Angel and Alec in Hardy’s novel. Trishna's purity is alluring to Jay but it’s that very quality he ends up exploiting in his Alec phase. It’s a very passionate relationship filled with sexual tension, awe and a certain admiration for each other. But they are almost like each other's forbidden fruit. Trishna would probably only dream of falling in love with someone like Jay and only in her wildest dreams would she ever imagine it to be a reciprocal feeling. There is a lot of shyness and passivity in the way she handles her side of the relationship with him never knowing how much she could actually open up. So when she finally does tell him about the pregnancy, his image of her being a symbol of "ultimate purity" comes down like a house of cards and they move into a very sadistic phase of their relationship where she continues to be even more passive which irks Jay further and in turn he keeps provoking her to get her to react. It’s a doomed romance.

Q: How different was the shooting experience and working with Michael, compared to your other films?
A: Michael has a very distinctive style of filming. He is not afraid of getting his hands dirty in a way that he can be fully involved in the story and encourages and expects us to do the same. He also has an optimism that is absolutely admirable but also quite intense. He knew I didn't speak Marvadi at all but somehow thought since I spoke Hindi I would be able to speak and improvise in Marvadi as well. It obviously scared the living delights out of me and forced me to find a method to pick up the language in less than 20 days! I didn’t have a dialect coach on set so I had to prepare myself fully for whatever could be thrown at me. I think in that sense, he expected our homework to be thorough and for us to be as prepared as he always is. That quality made me think a lot more independently as an actor and to be able to make the set more organic rather than contrived. He likes working with a very intimate set - very few people where you don't feel like it’s a movie set. He is very flexible and invites the actors to come up with their own ideas to enhance the scenes. Every film has had its own unique and wonderful experience but this is what is unique about Michael.

Q: What sort of preparation and research did you do and what other skills did you have to learn? You do a lot of dancing...
A: Oh yes - the dancing! I accompanied one of the crew members on a recce a month before we started filming to get a better sense of the culture I was going to dive into. It’s obviously not enough to just be an Indian to play this character. Rajasthan is vastly different from Mumbai. I met a lot of families, young girls working at hotels, recorded videos and audio tapes, went to local schools, spoke to students there and got interesting insights on their dreams and aspirations and the hurdles they come across in accomplishing those dreams. For me, my research consisted of studying people. I was not playing Tess in England or Mumbai, so I had to keep it as authentic to the Rajasthani setting as possible. In terms of skills, I learnt to speak a bit of Marvadi and of course learning the traditional Rajasthani dance moves was fun. Can milking cows and goats also be considered a skill? I think yes!

Q: The role of Trishna is huge and required flexibility and versatility, which you excelled at. What were the biggest challenges and biggest joys of the shoot?
A: It has been by far my biggest and most demanding role and I couldn't have enjoyed it more. The biggest challenge was adopting Trishna's passivity which is not necessarily her strength or weakness, it is both. Many times Michael had to remind me during certain scenes not to respond and join in every conversation but rather be the observer and absorber. That’s very difficult for a chatty girl like me who is always ready with a response! But through the course of the filming process it started falling into place - the frustration, the internalisation of the pain she feels that ultimately pushes her over the edge. For me it was almost like her passivity was a must to understanding her suffering. Working with a team that introduced a guerilla style of filmmaking to me was a complete joy and I cannot say I wasn't ready for it. I was more than happy to embrace it. The simplicity of our living conditions in Ossian made it easier for me to feel closer to Trishna. I found it very interesting that we didn't just work with professional actors. The family playing Trishna's family in the film were a real Rajasthani family from Ossian (except for those playing my mother and father). It was like the saying "go with the flow" for most part but with an obvious direction.

Q: How was it working with Riz?
A: There is something absolutely earthy and raw about the way he performs. He takes every moment as it is given to him; he feels it inside out and delivers with impact. He can be very hard on himself sometimes but that’s the way he functions. I believe that’s his way of pushing himself to do better and excel. His ability to communicate his ideas and at the same time be open to debate made it very easy and a memorable experience to work with him.

Q: Michael has compared the England of the 19th Century during Tess’ time with the new India that’s emerging (industrialization, urbanization, education). Do you agree? How have you seen India change in recent years and how in particular, has it changed for women like Trishna?
A: It is quite true and I never really paid attention to that comparison, till I had to justify to myself why TRISHNA would be the perfect Indian Rajasthani adaptation. It definitely is. India has changed in a lot of ways and in some ways there is still the need for more change. Education is slowly trickling into most remote villages of India and the importance of educating the girl-child is also coming to the forefront. There are still a few rigid ways and blind faith beliefs, social class system and casteism - that serve as hindrances in a few small towns and villages in the interiors of the country but despite that conscious efforts are being made to ensure that the need for basic education to children – male and female is met and adequate support to see it through is provided for. The Thar English Medium Primary School in Ossian that lent their support in the pre-production process of the film is one such example of the educational change in rural areas.

As far as cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore etc go, there is an incredibly distinctive change. Technology and modernisation has improved the quality of life, and education has become on a par with the international standards if not better. The manner in which India's economy has seen an unprecedented boom in the last one and half decades and particularly in the last four to five years has a lot in common to the industrial revolution of England.

There is also considerable growth and development of “home grown MNCs” in India. Besides the open door policy that allows foreign investment in India, we also have our own corporate giants like the Tata group, the Birla group, the Ambani group that have made a mark in the business and entertainment world not just in India but also overseas And of course as far as changing role of woman in society goes , the fact that the current President of India is a woman is quite a shining example.

Q: Trishna’s journey is portrayed in a very raw way. How did it feel to play that? How emotional was it?
A: It was very challenging but liberating. Michael did not tamper with or clean up the natural setting to make it seem conventionally perfect. It was easier to play with everything that I was surrounded by. That also helped me immerse myself in my character for the 9 to 11 hour filming days without feeling the need to let myself get in the way. Mistakes were the best part of the filming process. They were not corrected and fixed every second of the day. The fact that the camera never stopped rolling and we never had a script was my favourite part. I had to live every minute of the scene as my character. At times, a lot of things we would say were so real and this is where you think about how much life's experiences prove beneficial in films like these. It was exhausting and draining at times but became kind of like an addiction to push one step further to see what else could possibly be in store. In that sense it was definitely an emotional journey as it did require every thinking, feeling muscle to be engaged while performing.

Q: Trishna is more complex than Jay gives her credit for. What finally pushes her over the edge?
A: As far as I’m concerned, unfortunately what drives the entire relationship over the edge is Jay and Trishna's inability to understand each other's complexities in the first place and address them. But a problem lies within that very thought as Trishna's shyness and passivity almost makes it impossible for her to partake in a confrontation. The vast difference between the social classes that Jay and Trishna come from also contributes to the breakdown of their relationship as they share very little in common. Trishna finds a beautiful new life with Jay in her Mumbai days and for fear of losing it and his love, she hides the fact that she was once pregnant with his child and underwent an abortion. She obviously came from a place where her family's decision to end the pregnancy was final and one that she had to agree to as she would disgrace her entire family otherwise. It’s much like how Hardy's Tess, talks about sexual double standards wherein a girl losing her virginity before marriage was frowned upon by society.

Jay's reaction to her secret is too harsh for Trishna but she takes it upon herself as something she must live with, that she must endure some more suffering. However, this also makes her retreat further into her shell and become more passive. So in the final Nagaur phase, there is an almost stubborn and egoistic battle between the two of them. She craves for the Angel in Jay to be revived but the setting/circumstances in which they live in now almost reduces her to more of a concubine than the lover. So while she suffers and he becomes increasingly aggressive in the way he treats her, their relationship degenerates into something almost vile. Finally, Jay's demeaning act towards her momentarily changes something in Trishna. She’s can’t take it anymore and she is overtaken by a silent but murderous rage and kills him. I viewed this as the killing of Alec in Jay rather than Angel but the way our story is woven means she loses Jay entirely.

Q: Michael has drawn similarities between Thomas Hardy’s storytelling and Bollywood films (melodrama, love, poor girl falling in love with rich man and being carried away). Can you see that?
A: Absolutely. Essentially it can be viewed as a typical Bollywood story – the themes and the definite melodrama in it. Even some of Hardy's lines can find a direct parallel to some of the Bollywood films, especially when Angel returns from Brazil to find her as a mistress to Alec and Tess tells him "It’s too late, it’s too late". It’s reality that is heightened with tools like melodrama.