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Audio Review: Slapstick 2010 on BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Café

28 Jan

Movie Cafe on iPlayer

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend Slapstick 2010, the UK’s only (as far as I’m aware) festival dedicated to screenings of silent films alongside guest talks and special events.

Over four days I recorded some of my thoughts of the event for BBC Radio Scotland’s excellent Movie Café programme, and the episode is now up for seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

While I’d recommend listening to the full programme, my segment begins around 25.47 minutes in and features an interview with actor Paul McGann and Aardman Animation’s Peter Lord.

You can also read a review by fellow Slapstick 2010 attendee Walter Dunlop over on my other blog, Adventures in Primetime.


Film Interview: Richard and Tony Bracewell

14 Jun

In February 2009 I reviewed the DVD release of 2006 British film, The Gigolos, for this site, writing how I enjoyed the film for the way it told a story about relationships in modern society in a unique way.

Soon after I received an email from the film’s producer, Tony Bracewell, who thankfully liked what I’d written. This led to correspondence about various topics, including his upcoming picture, Cuckoo, once again directed by his brother, Richard.

The following interview was carried out via email with both Tony and Richard in June 2009.

Jonathan Melville: Can you tell me a bit about both your backgrounds?

Richard: I was the tedious kid at school who wrote sketches for assemblies, volunteered to do speeches, that sort of thing. And I loved movies. Back then, the closest thing to a DVD box set was an all-day screening of Rocky I, II & III back-to-back at Aylesbury Odeon.

But I didn’t put the writing and the movies together until I was in my mid-20s, when I realised that directing didn’t necessarily have to be something which other people did.

I worked for one day as a runner – painting floors white on a Julio Iglesias video – before promoting myself to director (on my own shorts). I reckoned the only way to learn directing was by directing. I taught myself technical elements from old BBC training manuals.

Tony: I ran PR agencies for 10 years. 10 years of failing to persuade people to be interested in uninteresting things (aka ‘PR’) was more than enough. Richard decided to make his first feature film at just the right time. How could I turn that down? Although some friends still think I do PR – for gigolos. (I don’t by the way, unless the price is right.)

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Film Interview: Laurent Cantet, Director of The Class

26 Feb
Laurent Cantet, director of The Class

Laurent Cantet, director of The Class

A tough look at life in a modern day Parisian school, The Class has been winning plaudits around the globe for its documentary-style and improvised script delivered by a cast of real pupils and new actors.

I spoke to The Class’s director and co-writer Laurent Cantet about the film’s cast, the chance of sequels and a US remake just a few days before the film was narrowly beaten at the 2009 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Firstly, congratulations on your Oscar nomination for The Class. Can you tell me what the last year been like for you and the cast following your win at Cannes?

I’ve spent a lot of time on planes and with journalists, travelling to around 23 countries. I haven’t seen my children much or any films in the last year and I haven’t had time to think about my next project. At the same time it has been interesting to hear people’s reaction from all over the world and realising that the questions the film is asking are relevant wherever you are.

Going back a little, how did you first get involved with the film? What was it that appealed to you about the script?

I’d started to write a script about a school, the idea being to stay within the walls of the school. Two years later I read François Bégaudeau’s book and when I met him on a radio talk show I realised he could give me a lot of documentary material that would help with my film.

I was also very interested in the character in the main character in the book, I liked the way he talked to the children, always provoking them. I also liked the way he was always considering his work in the classroom.

As I already had my own story, I proposed that rather than just adapting his book we use elements of it with some children to see how they might react to the situations it covered.

Was that a new way of working for you?

Usually I rehearse a lot with actors, but this time I took the risk to improvise during the shooting, so I did had to find a new way of filming that allowed that. We used three cameras, and would make the first shot very improvised, just to see how the children could bring their own experience to the scene.

I then worked with them between the first and second take, doing it again and again and again until we finally get the scene we liked.

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Interview: Ron Donachie

1 Mar

Currently appearing in the Lyceum’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, Ron Donachie has had a long and varied career on stage and screen. I caught up with him in November 2007 (before this blog existed) while he was appearing in Living Quarters to discuss his work.

Jonathan Melville: Can you start by telling me how you first got into acting?

Ron Donachie: I went to university and studied English – I sort of wanted to be a journalist although I was half-supposed to be a lawyer – but I didn’t fancy either of those as much as I thought I would.

Myself and a couple of friends decided while we were there that we wanted to be actors. I’d done academic drama as a side subject, but no practical stuff, no acting of consequence, maybe a bit at school. We had no connections or experience.

People say it’s a closed world, but I think it’s as closed as any other profession like journalism or law and if you don’t have any connections then there’s not any way in.

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