Category Archives: Interviews

From runners to cinema ushers, we interview the very best in the film industry!

“It isn’t just limited to prisons.” – Director Jairus McLeary talks The Work

We are always being told not to be emotional. We’re taught to keep our feelings to ourselves, to suffer in silence, and not to cry. We’re constantly told to bottle up until it explodes.

Directed by Jairus McLeary & Gethin Aldous, The Work revolves around volunteers that head to Folsom Prison to participate in a group session with prison in order to deal with their emotional conflict and open honest. In a visceral and vital documentary, The Work tackles truth and humanity in a compelling way.

We were lucky enough to talk  to Jairus McLearly about his riveting documentary, out now on Home Entertainment!

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How has the tour gone?

It’s gone well, a lot of travel, and I couldn’t be happier.

There’s been such a great reaction,  how does it feel to have these positive responses? 

It’s been such a great reaction, I didn’t know what it would be and it has been very positive.

How did you come about this project?

I was a volunteer, just like the subjects were. In this case, it was my father who was first to go through and he helped to organise it. My brothers and I had this dealt with this type of work before. This was just a new thing that he invited us to go to.

I volunteered around 2001/2002 and it wasn’t until I moved to LA in 2006 to pursue a career in this type of film. We started planning in 2006. I had people who were working in the film industry and we put a crew together, shooting in 2009. It was a real collaborative effort and people all brought their expertise. They had volunteered before we had money. We asked if they’d like to work on the film and no one said no.

I think we set about to capture the experience in the circle and everybody that goes in. It’s not just about the prison, it just happens to take place there. It’s about what’s underneath. We hope to draw attention to the type of people who are in prison. The things they are going through and how they strife to better themselves. They are trying to do the best they can and you have to approach it with no judgements about prison in order to do better.

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You’re family are heavily involved in the work too. How did that change the household? 

My father was the one who started doing this kind of work. I was sixteen and he came home and started crying. He wasn’t prepared for fatherhood or parenthood and he knew he was guaranteed to make mistakes. We watched a lot of years going of him going through the work and my mum also went through it. So our household became like one of those circles. An open family that extended to family and friend.

How difficult was it shooting in prison? 

The whole thing was different. We shot in 3006 and it is only just going out now. There were a lot of problems with funding and the economy crash. People wanted me to change what the film was going to be creatively and then it was hard to work with prison administration inside Folsom Prison. It was essential that there were no guards in the room. What people do is strictly confidential and the administration saw exactly what happens to the men who go through the work, I guess that developed trust . Editing was hard: We didn’t know how people will view a bunch of men going through these deep emotions. We developed different story-lines and we wanted to show why this happens. We shot putting the audience in the circle and tried to get them as close as possible.

Did you have any issues with the prisoners? 

Not at all. We discussed going in and the pros and the con,. When the cameras came, they’d chosen which guys were going to be in the circle and everything just started. It was immediately clear that no one was going to ham it up. They were just eating up the camera themselves. They wanted us to show people that these guys were trying to be better people within a see of negative voices. They were reality sharers, talking about how scary prison was and their background, they wanted to be as truthful as possible.

How open were the volunteers? 

It takes time from the jobs and school. But there are volunteers from different backgrounds and every session we get more volunteers interested.

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How can we apply the work to other practise and how can we address men and emotions?

I think it has applications everything. Across screenings, we come in contact with people who are affected. They talk to us and say how we can do it here and there. Forget about prison, a lot of people say “I need to go talk to my father or mother or wife.” It ripples. Half the population has PTSD, buildings have boarded up holes, and there are graveyards in places. It is just really conflict resolution between a person and the conflict within themselves. Robert Albee (Founder of the Inside Circle Foundation, pictured above) has done this in South Africa, Northern Island, and with Native American tribes. It isn’t just limited to prison. It’s spreading.


The Work is available on DVD from 27 November and on demand now 

Rupert Jones – Kaleidoscope Interview

A man, his mother, and a body.

The sinister events of indie thriller Kaleidoscope will be chilling audience in cinemas right now . The film starring Toby Jones and Anne Reid looks at a young isolated man who goes on a date that goes horribly wrong. Engrossing and engaging, Kaleidoscope is an impressive thriller.

We spoke with director Rupert Jones about his work.

Where did the idea come from?

I am never sure where the idea comes from. There  were two ideas too ambitious for a first film. An idea had been knocking around about a man who wakes up and finds a dead body in the bathroom, not knowing where it came from. I think the moment that the mother comes in as a crazy PI Detective is when the movie started to take shape.

What’s it like directing your brother Toby Jones? 

It happened in one of those moments where the film and the script took a leap, especially when we decided to make the mother internalised. It was hard to find sympathy with the character on the page. I need someone close who could bring that vulnerability and sort of take ownership. Toby did that, transformed it into a whole different character. He was very keen; showing the tragedy and the harrowing elements of Carl.

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The mother has these Hitchcockian elements and is very similar to Psycho in that respects, was this the intention?

It’s very flattering when people say that they see Hitchcock in the film. It’s not directly based on his work. The writing and the project was just something that worked and I aimed to engineer a piece of suspense, seeing how that worked. I watch some Hitchcock films but there was nothing specific I would pull on. I just watched them in general.

It’s a very terrifying thriller.

To be really honest, I always thought I’d be making comedies and I don’t really know where it came from. I just had this situation with the body and the mother. It just seemed like a good idea and I didn’t really think about the idea and I didn’t really think too much about what does it all it mean and situation level and I still don’t.

It’s like a process you are trying to let ideas emerge and, at the same time, I have to make decisions and when you make something  and discovering it for yourself. It always feels sudden.

Anne Reid is great as Carl’s Mother Aileen, how did she come on board?

It just seemed to make sense. Of all the actors, she was very funny and had great comic timing. I sort of approached her and was intrigued by the script. She was also enticed by doing something with Toby.    She was a real joy and such a great actress. I’m trying to work up an anecdote but she really is amazing. She played with our sympathies and made it feel that Carl was being a bit cruel without understanding why. She was just very good.

There’s a great visual style, how was this developed on a low budget? 

I think we were on a low budget. At a certain point, producer Matthew Wilkinson said to me; “Do you want to build the flat as a set?” And I really love building sets. I think we wanted it to be claustrophobic and a bit bigger than a flat would be . We re-purposed another set from another film so there was more paper underneath which gave it this great used atmosphere. We made the decision to shoot with deep blacks and brown. There are these kind of disability aids screwed to the wall, so there was this sense that he just moved there and it hasn’t been decorated. There are these elderly elements. He can’t afford to change it. There’s also different temperatures and they are cold, frigid, and wet.

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The estate is really imposing and really solidifies his loneliness. 

Yes! And those stairs were like a sign from god. I really liked the estate from the outside and the stairs. Those shots were from the determination of the grip and DOP.

I do feel like we’re at a strange time: There are these enormous films, always aspiring for a franchise. There’s an awful lot of writers and directors out there. I have faith in a lot of audiences, if they give films a chance. Big films seem to be about the spectacular now and that experience. But there are people still going to independents and I try to do the same. At festivals, I get people to recommend me five to ten films that I have no idea about.

All of a sudden you are opening up in a Romanian nunnery  or something like that and it is such a thrilling way of watching cinema.

Though, we should talk about making it more accessible so everyone can enjoy films.

“What do you know about his life?” – Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela talk Loving Vincent

A man, the madness, and his magical painting.

Vincent Van Gogh will always be remembered for his visionary work as well as the mental illness that plagued him most of his adult life. In a film that has 100 artists tackling intricate hand-painted frame, the artist is brought back to life in vivid and brilliance. To celebrate the release of Loving Vincent, we spoke to directors Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela about their film!

WMMOW: How are you?

Hugh Welchman: We’re melting zombies. I think Dorota is melting faster than me so I’ll probably be answering most of the questions.

WMMOW: I’m sorry to hear that.

Dorota Kobiela: No it’s fine.

HW: We just had two Paris premieres – one at the Musée d’Orsay which is a great place to have a Vincent film. We also had a public premiere last night.

WMMOW: And now you’ve flown here for more screenings and the BFI London Film Festival!

DK: Actually, we took the train. For the first time in my life, I took the Eurostar which was lovely.

WMMOW: Are you excited to showcase this wonderful film? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It is truly a magnificent piece of film that caused floods of tears.

Hugh Welchman: I’m sorry for the floods of tears but as filmmakers, we’re happy that it moved you.

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WMMOW: Are you happy that it’s getting out there?

HW: It has been a long journey. We made it for audiences. For us, it is the most exciting part but it also is the most nerve-wracking. We spent a long time on it so it’s like, “what if people don’t like it?” We’re had a pretty amazing run at the festivals so hopefully people will enjoy it.

WMMOW: There were different stories surrounding his death, why did you chose to keep the ambiguity?

DK: Well, we just don’t know. No one will. We didn’t want to push a theory. As Maguerite Gachet, played by Saoirse Ronan says, “You want to know so much about his death, what do you know about his life? “ 

HW: We started out looking at why he committed suicide at that particular time when everything was going so well for him. So we wanted to see ‘what actually happened in those final weeks?” looking at those final days  and holes in the narrative that don’t make sense. Was he accidentally short by the teenage boys he hung around with? Suddenly, you’re like “that fills in some of those holes.” But there’s no proof for that theory and we couldn’t really follow thorugh with that scenario. You could argue he was a bit of a martyr and didn’t want them (the boys) to get blamed for an accident. He was sensitive and caring. That’s the speculation. But he told several people that he shot himself.

When there’s a solution, we’ll film an epilogue.

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WMMOW: So it interestingly plays as a biopic but also a mystery thriller? How tricky was it to balance all the themes?

DK: His work and his art are the interesting centre of it

HW: We spent a lot of time replicating his story through his work. There were some people we had to cut such as Segatori, his lover in Paris and a vibrant model, connected to the mafia in Paris. Funnily enough, a gang member smashed one of Vincent’s paintings over his head. With Armand Roulin, we just had the painting and the fact that he worked as a blacksmith who’d become a policeman. However with Gachet, we had letters and there was quite a bit written about him so there was no room for interpretation.

WMMOW: Thank you! 

HW & DK: Thank you!


Loving Vincent is out in cinemas Friday!
Read our review! 

Ritzy Shorts: Charlie Edwards-Moss & ‘Duke’s Pursuit’ Interview!

by Robert Makin.

To celebrate the success of our special shorts night with International Review, and Ritzy Cinema, we’re talking  Duke’s Pursuit, a movie  about arevenge-obsessed industrialist hunts a former colleague and forms a partnership with an unlikely ally in this Icelandic set dark comedy thriller.W e spoke with  Charlie Edwards-Moss about his award-winning film. 


What was the original inspiration for the film and for the character of Duke? 

 Watching Sexy Beast, Cape Fear and No Country for Old Men were really helpful for the character of Duke and did inform how a lot of the film would play out. This evil, funny, caricature of a horrible villain who had almost cartoon like powers like Jim Carrey in The Mask fascinated us, when you throw this kind of character into a semi-realistic world and watch how people react.

Was there any films/filmmakers you had in mind whilst working on the script? 

– The Coen brothers were a huge influence, especially Fargo, but there were loads of films we took inspiration from;  For the overall feel of the film we were hugely inspired by ‘Catch me Daddy’ by Daniel Wolfe he creates such a  sense of impending doom and dread that we wanted to emulate. You should watch it if you haven’t seen it, its amazing!

Do you have any plans on making it into a feature? 

We would love to if someone wants to help finance it? There’s loads of ideas floating about, we are in the process of writing a feature which is similar to Duke’s Pursuit but set in Scotland instead of Iceland.

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What circumstances lead to you using Iceland as a location? 

 We worked with the producer and production designer, Boas, on an earlier short film, ‘Sweet Meats.’ He’s from Iceland and we started talking about making a true English/Icelandic collaboration, something that felt authentic to each country. We came up with loads of ideas, from a fisherman on his boat to two brothers in the army and eventually ended up with the revenge thriller Duke’s Pursuit.

What are the greatest challenges and greatest benefits of filming abroad? 

 The crew out there were absolutely second to none, these guys are hard as nails, working in freezing temperatures in bitter winds, the coolest and kindest lads and ladies I’ve ever met. It was a real challenge trying to direct the Icelandic scenes, not knowing the language at all makes it hard to see how the performance was so we had a lot of help from producer Boas in those scenes.

Was it hard to get the film financed?
 
It took a while to raise the funds. We made a crowdfunding video and with a lot of extremely kind peoples help, we got our budget.

Duke’s Pursuit is a revenge thriller. Do your creative aspirations lean more towards Crime/Thriller or do you plan branch out into other genres for future projects? 

Absolutely want to branch out! I think Joe and I always lean towards making strong genre films because they are the films we most enjoy going to see. Proper escapism, you know? At the moment we are trying to raise money to make a horror short..

Does your work have any other influences beyond film? 

  I guess all the classics that you would expect such as music and books, but also paintings and comics can help a lot with lighting and the staging of shots. At the moment we have been looking at loads of religious renaissance paintings to try and get a design together for ‘THE DEVIL’ in our new film.

How have audiences reacted to the open ending? Will the Duke return?
 
 I think some people are really intrigued by the open ending whilst others are just pissed off, like, ‘Why did you end it there, I was just getting into it!’, but it is really nice when someone comes up after watching it and asks loads of questions about what happens next. He could do, I would love to see what he’s doing 20 years later. If he wasn’t dead or in prison he’d probably have gotten well into fracking and completely ruined the Icelandic Eco system.

Do you think short films are a valid medium for storytelling? Do they have any significance on their own, as appose to being calling cards for possible features? 
 
 Yeah they are great! They have a lot of significance, for me some of the best short films aren’t those that aren’t entirely rounded off at the end, but more slices of a feature that throw you into the story and allude to some much bigger narrative and universe that the characters are in.


 
What’s the best and worst reaction you’ve had towards the film?
 
 Worst reaction was probably from an audience scored festival in Manchester where people would write on cards what they thought of the film, some of the audience got the name of the film wrong, had some Duke’s Journey and Duke’s Revenges. Best reaction was probably from Edinburgh Short Film festival where we won the ‘Rising Star Award’! Oh, and our Mums gave some pretty good reviews.

Is it easy getting films screened in London? 

There is such a great community here for people who genuinely love films and film-making, so there’s always someone who’s putting on a little film festival or having a screening in a pub.

Do you feel new and young directors are supported by the establishment?
 
Yeah definitely. The amount of grants available to film-makers our age is unbelievable.  
Are you working on any future projects? 
 
We are! It’s called Original Villain and it’s a short folk horror film, we got really inspired by recent horrors such as The VVitch and Under the Skin and really wanted to make something creepy and atmospheric. It follows an exorcists assistant called Sylvester who, whilst aiding in the treatment of an unknown patient, begins to experience horrible nightmares. What begin as hallucinations start to become more and more tangible and a thick heavy paranoia descends on him. Keep your eyes peeled for it, it’s going to be a barrel of laughs!


Want to be featured at our Ritzy Shorts night? 
Submit your shorts to sarah.c@picturehouses.co.uk

Ritzy Shorts: Joe Ollman & ‘Meat on Bones’ Review

by Robert Makin.

Ahead of our special shorts night with International Review, and Ritzy Cinema, we’re featuring the directors and their short films.

Today we’re talking about Meat on Bones; a movie revolving around two politically and socially different people, uniting on a weird journey.  To celebrate the screening, we spoke with director and writer Joseph Ollman

What was the initial inspiration for the story?

Actually, the film first came to me as a single image of this wild man living on the edge of a cliff in a caravan. I developed the character and decided I wanted to make a story about this guy. But as the script developed and I went through various drafts it became a two hander between him and this other character, Gwyn. It became something about them both and about the human condition as a whole.

How did you cast the film?
I wrote the part of Gwyn for Matthew Aubrey (the actor who’s in the film) after having seen him in several plays and thought he was incredible. Then for the part of Dai, I was looking around for a while – auditioning multiple actors. Then I saw Jâms Thomas, a local Welsh actor in a play in Cardiff. Saw him for the part and it just fit.
The landscape feels like a very important part of the story. How did you source the location? Or was it somewhere you’d always wanted to shoot?

After making several films out of Wales, I really wanted to make something closer to home. I’m from near that area and have always thought it was incredible and a great place to shoot something. So I wrote the story around the places that I knew could work. But then there’s the issue of gaining permission, which is even harder on a tiny budget. So we were unable to gain permission for quite a few locations that I originally had in mind, so you have to compromise and find other alternatives. I always think it works out for the best though.

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For a low budget short film, it’s incredibly cinematic in scope, as far as how the location captured on film. Did you have a particular look in mind for the film?

In pre-production I had countless meetings with my DOP, discussing certain cinematic references, many of which were films based in and around nature. But the locations themselves are incredibly cinematic, so that helps. We also wanted to combine a certain raw/natural quality along with it being cinematic, so we used a lot of handheld camera work.

Are the characters in the film inspired by any one you know, or any incident you’ve witnessed?

I spent a lot of time in caravan parks before the initial writing of the script and there were plenty people like Dai knocking about, but I think there’s parts of everyone in each of the characters which makes them very relatable. They’re also very Welsh characters in general – people that I would certainly see around town growing up.

What narrative themes were trying to capture within the story?

I guess it’s up to the audience to take from it what they wish. Personally, I wanted to tell a story about isolation, prejudice, and being stuck in a purposeless life. But mainly it’s about what brings us together rather than what divides us. In the end we’re all just meat on bones.

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What were the main challenges of filming entirely on location?
Most of the film is set in some pretty harsh conditions, and although it looks sunny in the film, the wind was strong and cold. So it was all pretty tough. Lugging heavy equipment over rocks and mud is always exhausting, especially when you have to then film for 8 hours. We also shot in a cave on the coast that would fill up with water every six hours, so we had to get everything in before the tides came in. There is one particular scene that features the characters running into the freezing February sea, which we were only able to get on the first take – due to risk of hyperthermia. So, that was especially tough.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just written a 30-minute short film that I’m looking to fund at the moment. My plan is to then develop that story into a feature film and get it made!


Check out Meat on Bones at Ritzy Shorts tonight! 

Ritzy Shorts: Prano Bailey-Bond & ‘Nasty’ Interview!

by Robert Makin.

Ahead of our special shorts night with International Review, and Ritzy Cinema, we’re featuring the directors and their short films.

Today we’re talking about Nasty; a film revolving around VHS video nasties and a 12 year old boy looking for his father.  To celebrate the screening, we spoke with director and writer Prano Bailey-Bond

How did you first get involved with the project?

I was sitting on a plane reading an article about the censorship of Hammer Horror films back in the day, and I had this idea for a feature, so I discussed the idea with my writer/co-writer Anthony Fletcher and we started to develop ideas, and essentially Nasty was a short idea that came from the feature idea. Both explore the early 80’s video nasty era. I fell in love with the short idea and so the ball began to roll…

What was it that drew you to the story?

Nasty  is quite a personal story – it’s kind of a love letter to horror and to VHS. It’s about the bonds that we form with one another through films. I’m also really drawn to the social hysteria surrounding video nasties and our fears of new technology – the whole thing totally fascinates me.

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You showed me very early draft of the script many years ago, although the tone and themes have pretty much stayed the same, the structure of the finished film is drastically different. It’s far more ambiguous and experimental. Can you tell me how the script developed into the final film? What changes were necessary and why?

I have to admit that when people ask me about the writing process on this, it feels like such a long time ago, and we did transform the script over the many drafts we did, so it’s a bit of a blur how exactly that happened. This is the reason I keep a writing diary now! I remember there was a draft of Nasty  where Doug basically murdered his parents and I had a really strange, defensive reaction to that draft and it changed quite dramatically after that. Perhaps it’s because during the writing process I get quite attached to my characters, and so what might start out as a script with a really bleak ending slowly gets infused with the characters getting what they want after all, but as in Nasty – there’s usually a hefty price to pay!

What was the greatest challenge and the greatest benefits of filming on both digital and film?

Nasty was shot entirely on 16mm and 8mm film, but my background as a director had always been on digital prior to this. The greatest challenge was definitely on set – not being able to see a really clear picture on the monitor of what you’re going to get in post. With digital setups you can see every minute detail on the monitor, but with film it’s more like a representation, and when you turnover on the camera there’s a flicker, which I found incredibly frustrating as I couldn’t always see the detail of the actor’s performance, so this affected how I positioned myself on set during takes, in order to see both the shot on screen and the actor in the room. What I learned through this is that I really trust my DOP Annika Summerson, who is incredibly talented and I have worked with a great deal. But the benefits of shooting on film greatly outweighed my initial teething problems on set. I remember getting the rushes back and it was at that point that I knew shooting on film had been the right decision – I kind of fell in love with the format at that point, despite the frustrations I’d felt during the shoot. The results were stunning, and perfect for our 80’s period setting too. I feel like film has a timelessness. When I see a film from the past shot on film, compared to digital, it just holds its quality so well. Saying that – I do love digital too, and I think you always have to choose the format that will best suit the requirements of your shoot and your story.
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You really seemed to have captured that creepy early eighties VHS atmosphere, both in tone and visuals. Can you explain a little bit about the cinematography and the shooting process? Was there any specific techniques you used in attempting to recreate the foreboding weirdness of VHS era horror?

I think maybe foreboding weirdness is what I’m always striving for, so in Nasty I’ve fused that with the VHS-horror vibe. Shooting on film definitely helped, because so many of the films Nasty references were shot on film.. But it’s really everything on screen, from the cinematography to the costume, production design, sound design, colour grade, effects etc – every element is playing its part in making the tone and the era come to life. What I love about directing films is that I get to kind of orchestrate all these different elements, and to work closely with really talented people who can bring their own ideas into the mix within their department – it’s my job to inspire my crew and then to balance everything to make it work on screen. In terms of the cinematography, the film transitions from grey British suburbia, which has quite a cold colour palette, to the lurid, vibrant colours of video nasties. This colour transition is representative of Doug’s journey into the video nasty world. The film also moves from 16×9 aspect ratio to 4×3 – so there are lots of little techniques like this used visually, but also sound plays a huge part too, moving from the stiff, controlled ‘real’ world into the wild, technological, synth world of 80’s horror. In terms of tone, I wanted to recreate the feeling I had as a kid when I watched horror films – that feeling where you’re frightened of going up to bed after watching a horror, as if upstairs has turned into another, unrecognisable world. It’s such a scary and exhilarating feeling that any horror fan will know and love. So I was really trying to find ways to communicate that feeling. The VHS distortion and texture was also an important element for me in reference to the era and the format – and I worked closely with some very talented people at Framestore to get that right.