Podcast Interview: Gerard Walsh wri/dir of ‘South’

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Stephen Porzio talks to Gerard Walsh about his film South, which is out now in Irish cinemas.

South tells the story of Tom, a young man struggling with the recent death of his father. After finding a note from his estranged mother he decides to hit the road and try to find her. Throughout this journey Tom also tries to overcome his crippling stage fright as a musician. Along his journey he meets Jess, a free-spirited young woman that captivates his mind and heart.

 

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Podcast Interview: Pieter-Jan De Pue, director of ‘The Land of the Enlightened’

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Stephen Porzio talks to Pieter-Jan De Pue, the director of the Irish co-production The Land of the Enlightened. 

A  group of  Kuchi  children  are  living  in  a  minefield  around  Bagram  airfield,  Afghanistan.  They dig out old Soviet  landmines  in order to sell the explosives to child workers in the  Lapis  Lazuli mine.  Meanwhile  Gholam  Nasir  and  his  gang  control  the  mountains  where  caravans  are smuggling the blue gem stones to the border of Tajikistan and Pakistan.

When Gholam’s gang is not  guiding  the  caravans  over  the  frozen  rivers,  they  dream about  Afghanistan  after  the withdrawal of the Americans. Some of them will grow up as soldiers, others will remain with the caravans.

But  Gholam  dreams  about  marrying  and  living  with  his queen  in  the  palace  in  Kabul.  Will Afghanistan have a new king after the foreigners will have returned home?

The co-production was produced by Morgan Bushe for Irish production company Fastnet Films together with Savage Film, Submarine, Eyeworks and Gerbrueder Beetz Produktion.

Find out more about the documentary at www.thelandoftheenlightened.com

 

 

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Podcast: Interview with Johnny O’Reilly, writer/director of ‘Moscow Never Sleeps’

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Stephen Porzio talks to Johnny O’Reilly about his film Moscow Never Sleeps, a multi-story drama that weaves through Moscow’s choked cityscape as it celebrates its birthday with a massive fireworks display. Over the course of one day, many lives will change forever.

Capturing the kinetic energy of the Russian capital, Johnny O’Reilly’s Moscow Never Sleeps cleverly interweaves five compelling stories in a provocative statement on Putin’s Russia.

Moscow Never Sleeps is a drama about the hidden bonds that connects us all. The film dives headlong into the volatile intersections of contemporary Moscow and the intimate lives of five people: An entrepreneur whose business empire comes under siege by powerful bureaucrats, a teenage girl mired in the misery of a broken home, a young man forced to chose between his girlfriend and his grandmother; a beautiful singer torn apart by the pursuit of two men, and an ailing film star who gets embroiled in a bizarre kidnapping.

These stories weave through Moscow’s choked cityscape as it celebrates its birthday with a massive fireworks display. They reveal the unrestrained energy of Europe’s biggest city and the cruelty and beauty of the Russian spirit.

The film stars many of Russia’s best-known actors including Alexey Serebriakov (Leviathon). It was written and directed by Irish filmmaker, Johnny O’Reilly who has lived in Moscow for 12 years. The film aims to give audiences a unique view of Russian humanity, to present a true impression of a vibrant culture overshadowed by egregious policies of a corrupt government and to capture the pulsating spirit of Europe’s biggest city.

Moscow Never Sleeps is released in Irish cinemas on 11th November 2016

 

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Moscow Never Sleeps is released in Irish cinemas on 11th November 2016

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Interview: Charles Harris, author of ‘Jaws in Space: Powerful Pitching for Film and TV Screenwriters’

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Two screenwriters once walked into a Hollywood producer’s office and said three words: ‘Jaws in space.’ That pitch won them the contract for the blockbuster movie Alien. Award-winning director, Charles Harris, wants to teach you how to do the same in his new book: Jaws in Space: Powerful Pitching for Film and TV Screenwriters.

Jonathan Victory talks to Charles about his step-by-step guide to ensuring the perfect pitch.

 

In your previous book, Teach Yourself: Complete Screenwriting Course, you touched on the pitching process but with this book you tackle it head on. 

I wanted to expand on Complete Screenwriting. I spent some time, about a chapter and half, two chapters, going over the premise at the beginning of writing and then the pitching at the end. Although they seem to be two separate things, the two are intimately linked. Essentially, the first thing I do when I am writing, and what I teach people about their writing, is develop my own pitch. Apart from anything else, I’m the first person I have to convince to spend time and money on the project. If I’m going to spend months, if not years, on the project I need to be convinced there’s a pitch at the end of it.

So it happens at the beginning and at the end of the process. In Complete Screenwriting, as the title suggests, I take you through the process, the different ways of developing a screenplay for cinema or TV from the very beginning to the very end. But, of course, there was only a certain amount of space in the book and there was a lot of areas of pitching, premise development and the whole process of doing the pitch itself that I really didn’t have time for in that book. So it was great to be able to spend some time developing those ideastaking things that in some cases might have been a paragraph and turning them into a chapter with a lot more detail in and going into a lot more depth. Also, talking to some really good writers about their experiences and quoting them and generally being able to dig a lot deeper into one of the most crucial areas. Nowadays, if you don’t have a good pitch, quite apart as I said from convincing yourself, you’re not going to convince anybody else. Everybody now needs a good pitch to sell a script, to sell an idea, to sell a project, whether it’s a writer, director or producer, or even an agent.

The title of your book comes from the story of two screenwriters walking into a Hollywood producer’s office and saying three words: “Jaws in space.”

It is rare that you can get a story that you can boil down quite so short. “Jaws in space” is great because in three words there is everything you want to know. The truth is that for even the biggest names it is going to be tough actually raising the money from a pitch.  The pitch is a very simple job and I think it actually makes it a lot easier if you realise it’s not about selling the script, it’s not about selling the project, it’s not about financing the movie – it’s about getting people to read the script. That is basically the job of the pitch. The best outcome of the pitch is if someone says “send me the script”.

The pitch itself has got to tick the boxes. At a screenwriter workshop, we used to bring producers in and we’d ask them “What do you want?” They’d be friendly, helpful and tell us everything they knew and you’d ask “what scripts do you want” and “how can we make sure you get what you want?” They would kind of fumble because they don’t really know. What they would generally say was “bring us something that excites us.” It is true – film and TV is all about excitement. It’s about hot air, if you like. There’s more hot air in the business than there is celluloid and that is what gets things made. But, what they don’t tell you is that there are five basic tick boxes that any producer has to tick in their own mind, whether they’re conscious of it or not. If you don’t tick those boxes in your pitch then you will get nowhere.

This is your A, B, C, D, E that is in the book.

A is appropriate – is your idea appropriate for the person you are pitching to?  Which may sound obvious and yet many people are going to a pitch without having done any research into the production company or the agent they’re talking to. Not everything is appropriate for everybody. So first off, you have to do your due diligence as a writer and find out what it is they do. Sometimes that’s easy – nowadays, you can do that research a lot of the time on the internet. Sometimes it’s a question of just asking, talking to people. That’s why I often say at a pitch meeting the first thing you should not do is pitch. The first thing you should do is have a conversation. Basically, a pitch is about having a conversation. It’s not a big performance. So A is, is it appropriate to their needs – and you need to find out what their needs are.

B is budgetable. In other words, does the budget of what you’re doing fit the likely markets? It’s a mistake and one of the big myths that many screenwriters tend to buy into is that you work out the cost of a script, of making the film from the script and that is going to be the cost of the movie. Whereas, the truth is it’s actually the other way round. What you budget a movie at is what you think you can sell it for. So you need to have some sense of the markets – not the exact budget in pounds and pence – but you do need to have some sense of is this going to appeal to the multiplex,  is this a big budget movie, is this a little indie movie that I can’t afford to spend too much money, I can’t afford to put in helicopter gun ships and armies and all sorts of expensive effects. It’s important to know, does this sound like something I can do within the budget that is going to work for the market?

C is cinematic or televisual. That’s the stuff all the other books talk about. In other words, does it work for the screen, which is crucial. Many people pitch ideas which are lovely but are not screen ideas. They might work beautifully as a novel, for example, but you wouldn’t be able to put it on the screen and make it work. There’s that visual, cinematic element that is vital. That’s not to say you can’t have a very good film about two people sitting in a restaurant. My Dinner with Andre was a very nice movie like that – but it was cinematic because of the way the characters played through their interaction.

D is for different. In other words, what makes your idea standout as being different from the rest? Now you can fairly say “Hang on, I go to the cinema every week and all the stuff there in the multiplexers is the same as everything else.” “I open the TV guide and they’re making 200 cop shows that look identical.” Yes, absolutely. There’s a lot of copycatting the industry. But if you are trying to break in from outside you need to bring something that is different – something that’s you, that’s special. What is a Jonathan Victory script, for example. What is that special something? The thing is, they’ve got a hundred thousand writers who can write the same as everybody else to a certain level of third-rate script. What they don’t have, and what they need, is somebody who can bring something a bit special and different. They don’t know until they see you whether you can bring that something special. I see a lot of scripts that are very well written but they just fall down because you think, well I’ve seen all that before… why should I watch it again?

E is for employable. It’s the flipside of A – not just are they appropriate for you but are you appropriate for them? Can they work with you? What are you bringing to the table? That could be a track record but doesn’t have to be. It could be some particular connection with the story. It could be your passion for the story. There’s a lot people can work on. There was a Ken Loach movie made some years ago. A guy came to them who’d worked on the railways. He’d never written a script in his life, but he knew the railways backwards and he had a really good idea for a story. They hired him and essentially, with a script editor, Loach’s company taught him how to write a script. They worked together and created a very nice script. So in this case your own personal connections might be the thing that sell the script. Or maybe blogging. using social media nowadays, you can produce a blog and show that you have a got a following for your particular story or subject. This way you’re going to get a lot more interest for your stories.

So A, B, C, D, E – whatever you say to them, your 2-sentence pitch, part of what they’re thinking about, on some level or other is, have I ticked all those 5 boxes, and if not, you are going to be struggling.

Jaws in Space: Powerful Pitching for Film and TV Screenwriters by Charles Harris is available now in paperback.

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Interview: Greg Sestero, co-star of cult film ‘The Room’ & author of the ‘The Disaster Artist’

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Ahead of his appearance at Filmbase, Gemma Creagh talked to Greg Sestero, co-star of cult film The Room. Greg is also the best-selling author of the The Disaster Artist, a memoir of his time as an aspiring actor in Hollywood, leading to his bizarre friendship with the mysterious and iconoclastic director of The Room, Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist garnered critical acclaim and commercial success with the book recently being released in the U.K by Little Brown and also adapted into the film, The Masterpiece by director James Franco.

 

First off, how did you meet Tommy Wiseau?

I met Tommy in acting classes in San Francisco. It was quite a conservative class. People were quite reserved. When Tommy went up there, he performed a Shakespearean sonnet that was so mind-blowing I thought, ‘I got to do a thing with this guy’. And so I approached him. That’s how we met.

So, you were obviously friends with him when he was working on The Room. How did you become involved?

We were roommates when he was writing. He always wanted to be an actor and Hollywood didn’t really  see his talents, so he decided to write his own screenplay. He wrote a part for me to be in it. At first, I was reluctant. Then the night before filming he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – if I didn’t make the movie it would be the biggest mistake of my life.

With regards his writing process, how did he come up with his ideas?

I think he was inspired by his own personal stories and the way he sees life. He’s also very much into ’50s films, Tennessee Williams, Marlon Brando and James Dean – I think The Room was a culmination of all that and his perspective on life.

How involved were you in the filmmaking process itself?

I just pretty much helped to Tommy carry out his vision. It was his vision from the start and I was just there to support him. I never really wanted to change any aspect of it. I felt it would work a lot better for him if he just did it his way. I was just kind of there to pick up the pieces and make sure the whole thing went forward.

I know there were a lot of last-minute rewrites, what was the mood like onset?.

It was the first time making a movie so there was chaos and some dysfunction – and a lot of humour! A lot of things happened that were pretty funny, looking back. Ultimately, it was Tommy trying to make a movie his way and a bunch of people trying to understand that.

What was it like when it all blew up as a cult phenomenon?

I observed the film for a few years after it came out and film students picked it up and started spreading it. A few years later, I was living in Europe when the movie really blew up. I was stunned to know it was playing in places like New York and London to sold-out crowds. It was intriguing for me, despite being in the movie, just how people were responding to this vision that Tommy had of this drama. They loved it for all these different reasons. Soon enough I was attending screenings with Tommy. I came to Dublin and was in London – there’s something about the film that people love.

One of those things that struck me about The Room is that there’s authenticity there; there is real emotion behind it.

There really is something there. I think that it’s the fact that he was really trying to send a message through his film. People can see that and they respond to that.

Let’s talk about your book The Disaster Artist – how did that come about?

With the cult success and the touring, I was getting a lot of questions about how I got involved in the film and my relationship with Tommy. I thought the best way to tell the story was for me to go to the beginning and share what a crazy and surreal journey it was meeting Tommy, our unique friendship and how it led to the both of us stumbling our way into this cult success; what it is like to have a dream and try to pursue it against all odds. I thought there’s a lot more there than just the making of a cult movie. My goal with it was to really share something that had heart and humour as well.

So how did the James Franco ‘The Masterpiece’ adaptation come about from your book?

James read it and wrote a terrific article in his column about what he liked both about the book and The Room. He got it and wanted to turn it into a film. I have been lucky enough to see a cut of the film and it’s really terrific. I’m just grateful that someone with James’ talent saw the message the book was sending.

Is it strange to see another actor play yourself as an actor playing a role in a film?

It was a pretty fascinating and surreal experience. But with the book I always saw it as a film, so I removed myself from myself at that time. It was more exciting than anything else. It’s taking your story and putting it in another dimension – it’s very freeing in a lot of ways… it’s no longer your story. It’s great therapy actually. I recommend it!

What can you tell us about the documentary you are screening on Tuesday here at Filmbase in Dublin.

It is a short documentary with interviews with all the actors about the making of the movie and it becoming a cult phenomenon, and the fans. It gives you a well-rounded perspective of what it was like to be inside The Room. Also, I’ll be doing a book reading and, hopefully, I’ll be showing a big surprise to the Dublin fans of something new.

Voicesonfilm in association with Filmbase and NUI Galway present The Disaster Artist: Inside The Room with Greg Sestero at Filmbase @ 7pm, Tuesday, 27th September 2016.

 

 

 

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Video: Interview with Sennia Nanua, ‘The Girl With All The Gifts’

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The Girl With All The Gifts is the new thriller adapted from the award-winning novel of the same name by M.R Carey and directed by Colm McCarthy (Peaky Blinders & Ripper Street).

A scientist (played by Glenn Close) and a teacher (played by Gemma Arterton) are living in a dystopian future as they embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie played by newcomer Sennia Nanua.

In this video, Sennia Nanua takes us behind the scenes and answers a few questions.

 

 

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”.  Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell.  Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions.  And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks.  But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest.  Melanie is special.  She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

 

The film is released Friday, 23rd September 2016

 

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Video Interview: Director Peter Foott, Actors Hilary Rose & PJ Gallagher, ‘The Young Offenders’

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Gemma Creagh talks to director Peter Foott, and actors Hilary Rose and PJ Gallagher about The Young Offenders, which has achieved the highest opening for an Irish film at the Republic of Ireland Box Office this year.

Inspired by Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure of €440 million off the coast of Cork in 2007, the laugh-out-loud comedy follows two Cork inner-city teenagers, Conor and Jock, as they embark on a 160km road trip on stolen bikes in the hopes of finding an unrecovered bale of cocaine.

 

 

You can download / listen to a podcast version of the interview:

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Podcast Interview with Séamus Hanly, Writer & Director of ‘The Middle Finger’

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Ahead of its screening at A4 Sounds, Jonathan Victory talks to Séamus Hanly about his film The Middle Finger.

Dennis, a lonely and frustrated teenager, is reluctantly transformed into a superhero, embedded with the symbol of a hand showing its middle finger, and must awkwardly endure his training and save his world from extinction in The Middle Finger, a superhero comedy feature film, written and directed by Séamus Hanly.

 

The Middle Finger screens at A4 Sounds, Dorset St., Dublin 1 at 7pm on Friday, 23rd September 2016, limited spaces so RSVP here

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