Tuesday 24th August at 19.00 at the IFI, Still Films co-founders Nicky Gogan, Paul Rowley and Maya Derrington will discuss their collaborative practice and screen a selection of shorter films. As part of Film Ireland’s coverage of the IFI’s Still Films’ season, we talk to Nicky Gogan about the evolution of Still Films and its collaborative approach to filmmaking
This is a free event, but tickets are required and are available from the IFI.
What was the background to Still Films and how did you come together?
We actually all knew each other for years and had worked on various projects together on and off. We were very much inspired by the energy that came out of the Darklight Festival, the ways new technologies were radically changing how people were making films. So before we set up shop as a production company we had been talking a lot about new approaches to making cinema. We set up the company in 2006 when we first started working on Seaview. Shortly after that we were lucky enough to get MPD funding from the Film Board, and that’s really what got us up and running.
With three creative personalities involved from the off, how did you work together from the beginning in a productive way?
It just felt like a very natural and obvious way to work. Filmmaking is such a collaborative art form. From the start we were very much interested in re-evaluating current production models to find new ways to get films made that were both creatively challenging for us but wouldn’t take five years to finance.
How did you approach a project like Seaview as a team?
Seaview started as a series of workshops before it was ever really a doc. We initially ran a variety of filmmaking, radio, music video workshops with the residents there. The interviews and filming didn’t start until after that.
All three of us collaborated as producers. Up at the camp in Mosney it was important to keep the team as small as possible, so it was mostly just Nicky and Paul living there over several years filming with the staff and residents. Dennis and Maya would come up regularly too.
And did Pyjama Girls differ from that?
Pyjama Girls production was very similar in a lot of ways. Again it involved searching for people who wanted to work with us on the film. We had initial chats with lots of different girls before we found the wonderful Tara and Lauren. This time it was Maya and Sinéad who spent most time with the girls, along with DOP Suzie Lavelle. Paul came on board as editor about half way through the shooting, and Nicky as producer was involved throughout. We are launching our new distribution division with this title and are employing a DIY approach.
Pyjama Girls has just had a great opening weekend at the Ifi with sold-out screenings. It will play there until Thursday so keep an eye on our website www.stillfilms.org for further screenings.
You have since brought more people under the Still Films umbrella – how does that work?
From the start, probably because of our Darklight roots, we’ve been really interested in working with a wide variety of artists and filmmakers. The collaboration differs from person to person, and depends a lot on the type of project. Currently we’re developing projects from docs to animations to a Sci-fi feature to artist films, all with an amazing variety of filmmakers.
Do you think there is a collaborative benefit from a seemingly collective approach?
Absolutely. These days most filmmakers are producers and editors who know how to shoot and direct. It’s the way we make films these days, especially lower budget films or films that might be a bit less mainstream or work that is intended for exhibition in a gallery. So when it comes to working together, it’s obviously a huge advantage if we all have a wide and similar skill set.
Tell us about the talk that you’re doing in the IFI?
Yes on Tuesday Sarah Glennie from the IFI is chairing a discussion with us. We’ll be showing some short films, and discussing our history as a company, how we make our films, and where we’re going next. It’s free in; you just need to book a seat through the IFI.