All posts by toska

London: Day 4

Today: more interviews! Shocking, I know. Tomorrow, there’s a 100% chance of interviews as well.

We actually got to sleep in a bit, which I appreciated immensely. The not sleeping over the whole NYCC weekend followed by jetlag is still making life kind of rough. I subjected myself to some lemsip this morning (again, WHY?) and felt almost human at least.

Our first interview was on location, which is a fancy way of saying we went to Kim Newman‘s apartment and interviewed him there. And by apartment I mean paradise of scifi/fantasy/horror/related works/comic books, where there aren’t so much walls as more bookshelves. I am incredibly jealous of Kim’s bookshelves. The entire space just smelled gloriously of books.

I managed to keep my writer fangirling to a minimum, though I did get to ask Kim a question about British versus American science fiction film, and whether the difference is more cultural or just a function of the generally lower budges in the UK. His answer came down more to Americans always wanting to humanize and lionize scifi protagonists, while British scifi protagonists get to be weird and intensely smart lone nuts… so, the US scifi protagonist of record is Captain Kirk, while in the UK it’s the Doctor.

After I pried myself off of Kim’s bookshelves, we headed back to our homebase to interview Vicky Jewson. She spoke on her microbudget action movie, Born of War, which I now very much want to see. Sounds like I ought to be able to find it in the US somewhere soon! As someone interested very much in commercial rather than arthouse film, she had a somewhat different perspective from the other people we’ve interviewed so far. (For example, she’s the first who hasn’t stated that unfortunately the US and UK share a common language.) I’m pretty excited about the diversity of thought we’re already getting. And as a special bonus, Rupert Whitaker was along with her, so we got to stuff him into the hot seat and ask him some questions about British film history.

Another exciting and busy day in store tomorrow. I’m glad I was serious about making myself useful on this trip, because the director is working me hard!

Rachael Acks
Executive Producer

London: Day 3

We survived our first day of filming! And not only survived, we triumphed!

First interview up was Tony Garnett. It was a bit nerve wracking to start, I’ll admit. There was still last minute running around to do before Tony arrived, and of course you never actually feel prepared to start something like this. I was in charge of monitoring the sound from the lapel microphone and keeping an eye on the backup camera, so I felt very official sitting there and listening through a headset. (I also feel official because I’m wearing a tie. Half windsor knot today, thank you for asking.)

Tony Garnett was intensely interesting, though I have a feeling I’ll be saying that about everyone we interview, so I’ll just strike that word from my vocabulary now. Tony was incredibly laid back about being our first interview, for which I will thank him forever since we had some kinks that needed to be worked out, like me having no idea how to actually wire someone for sound.

We covered the general questions about the British film industry, but where I found myself most interested was when he discussed the future, and the opportunities presented by the internet–the democratization of film. It’s a topic that really speaks to me personally. Tony very much brought politics into the discussion of art, which I know is not a usual thing, but I could have just listened to him talk for hours about the importance of presenting a wide range of stories, including those belonging to the working class.

And then: “I wish I was twenty again, so I could fail. And then fail better.”

Next up was Iain Smith. I am ashamed to admit that when he arrived, I was so focused on everything else I promptly forgot about The Fifth Element and Children of Men. This might have been for the best, because the level of nerding out I might have hit otherwise probably would have gotten me ejected from the room. But I got to shake his hand. Twice. SO THERE.

One of the parts of Iain’s interview that caught my attention the most was the question of British versus English versus London kind of overtaking the cultural narrative thanks to it being the capital city. And for that reason, English identity might be something that’s still struggling to find its definition, because London is not really representative of the rest of the culture… which is something that can be seen in other capital city versus the rest of the countries throughout Europe. Though of course then America has to be weird, since the cities that dominate our narrative tend to be New York City and Los Angeles, rather than our actual capital.

Food for thought, that.

Third and final interview of the day was Debs Paterson. To me, she was the cherry of amazing on a really great day. I think I fell a little bit in love with her when she mentioned Orlando as an influential movie on her development as an artist. That movie made a huge impression on me when I saw it (and then subsequently read the book) and has sort of been rolling around in my brain since on a subconscious level. Debs spoke very eloquently on coming of age when there was both a female prime minister and a female monarch, which at least rendered the question of if there were things girls could or could not do rather moot. (Think about this the next time someone questions the usefulness of role models.)

And once she’d answered all of the prepared questions, we wandered a bit off topic and onto women in film, particularly the dominance of white male characters on screen and the way in which that encourages everyone but white men to empathize with someone who is unlike themselves. It’s a topic familiar to me (due to recent explosions of debate in the scifi/fantasy writers community) and I was really glad to hear the perspective from a filmmaker.

I think Debs is going to be an amazing role model for the next generation of women filmmakers.

So that was it for the day. I’ve now fed the rest of the crew on some Sainsbury’s take home pizza and squash, and we’ll be off to see Filth in about an hour, to prepare for a later interviews with Irvine Welsh and Jon S Baird. We’ve got two interviews lined up for tomorrow afternoon as well, which is exciting! Interviews are still coming in even now, so I’m never quite sure what each day will bring.

So far, so good!

Rachael Acks
Executive Producer

London: Day 2

Today was a busy, busy, busy day of running around town and trying to get the equipment ready to go for tomorrow. Because we have interviews. Tomorrow. Three of them. So we were at film DEFCON 1 all day, basically.

Getting all the luggage and equipment moved from our overnight hotel to the flat was an adventure in itself. The flat is very reminiscent of a shotgun house, with all the rooms in a straight line back, beginning with the (thankfully relatively large and pretty) dining room/sitting room and ending with one of the most awkwardly shaped bathrooms I’ve ever encountered in my life. (Hey, we’re in London, space is at a premium!) The kitchen is more narrow than the one in my old house in Colorado, which I didn’t actually think was possible. People can’t stand back to back in it, and we all can’t fit in there at the same time. So the space itself is a challenge we’re working with. (And hiding all the luggage in the single bedroom has put my rusty Tetris skills to use.)

Then it was running for last minute equipment like extension cords, batteries, the sorts of things you want to have in place before you get started. My job was actually to take care of grocery shopping, since I’ve sort of put myself in charge of making certain everyone eats, and eats reasonably healthy. Which is not as easy as it might sound when the filming schedule is as busy as it’s stacked up to be.

By the time I trotted back to the flat on my aching feet (through a drizzle, thanks London) everyone else had already gotten started on set up, rearranging the furniture, figuring out how to get the shots framed for tomorrow. It’s something you don’t really think about if you’ve never been anywhere near a camera, but those things just don’t come plug and play out of the box. I even had fun being the guinea pig, walking around different bits of the room to mark off where people aren’t allowed to stand during filming because we’ll be in the shot.

And then hours of getting all of the sound figured out. I never realized just how hard it is to talk on demand until someone gives you a mic and commands you to just speak. I resorted to torturing everyone with excerpts from my new novella, though we all had a turn. (Hmm, I wonder if that’s why the other ladies got handed the mic later…)

But it’s coming together. We’ll be ready. (And I’m running around and neatening things up. I think I’m channeling my mother because what if someone sees this mess, with cables and mic boxes and extension cords all over the place.)

As of ten o’clock we’re all turning in. We have an early day tomorrow–finishing touches before our first interviewee arrives!  It’s starting, and we’ll be ready.


The chair is ready too!

Rachael Acks
Executive Producer

London: Day 1

There is something strange and wonderful about standing in an empty airport at approximately Oh My God in the morning and waiting for three people whom you have never actually met to find you and say hello. It turns your stomach into a monster made of insecurities and acid.

But then the people who up, and after a momentary, awkward pause, everyone says Hi and immediately you start talking like you’ve known each other for years. Awkwardness passes quickly and you often find magic on the other side. Or at the least an Earl Grey Cambric and a slightly sleep deprivation drunk conversation about screenwriting tropes while waiting to board the airplane.

You’ll have to forgive me if this one is short and not entirely coherent. Over the last two days, I’ve gotten approximately seven hours of sleep, and there’s something about spending six and a half hours being flung through the air in a giant metal tube that isn’t quite pressurized enough that really turns one’s brains to horrible, lumpy Cream of Wheat.

The good news is, we are in London. And not only are we in London, all of our baggage arrived intact, we made it to out of the airport all right, and we managed to acquire some amazing Indian food before I was forced to kill a hapless British pedestrian and feast upon his or her corpse a la 28 Days Later.

Seraphina, Sheri, and Carrie have made me laugh until the point of near pain already. We got to know each other over naan and chicken tikka masala, and all that nervousness I felt while waiting in the JFK airport has now gone like it never existed. I’m glad I’m here, and I’m glad I’m here with these women, because we’re going to make one hell of a team.

So yes, we are in misty, lovely London, we are together, and we have hit the ground running. Watch us go.

Rachael Acks
Executive Producer