Exclusive Interview with Director Callie Lane

5 07 2011

Here is our latest addition to the PSD Exclusive Interview with an up-and-coming Director series.  Meet British Writer/Director Callie Lane who’s short film Talk stars Stefan D’Bart and Emma Rigby.

Emma Rigby and Stefan D’Bart star in Callie Lane’s gripping short film TALK.

Callie was highlighted by FILM NEWS BRIEFS as their June Filmmaker to Watch.  Here is our Exclusive Interview with Callie.

I started out by asking a bit about her background:

1.  I always like to open up asking where you are from and where do you live today?

I’m from London and now live in Poole which is in the south west of england, on the coast.

2.  Do you remember that first moment where you got “bit by the film/art bug”?

I got hit by the film bug when i was about 8, when i went to see a pop up exhibition about the film business at chelsea town hall…they had all the film-makers secrets, cheating snow with salt etc it blew my tiny mind and I was hooked! Not long after that they shot a movie in the house next door to us and watching all that up close and personal really got me interested in film-making.

3.  How did your passion for writing come about?

Im an only child, so creating imaginary friends in order to play snakes and ladders with and fully fleshing out the characters of these imaginary friends  ie how they would react to each roll of the dice was where it all began. Later, by the age of 8 I was writing plays and directing them to be performed in my living room with my cousins as the cast and my relatives as a non paying audience!

TALK Questions:

1.  What sparked the initial idea behind the break-up plot-line?

Decades on I am still creating characters and stories, so when the idea popped into my head for a story on a beach with THAT ending i went straight back to my office and started writing it. It took 40mins and very unusually for me I didnt change a word of it throughout the process. Although, now, of course, I can see having viewed it about 100 times where I should have cut a couple of words!

2.  Who came first Emma or Stefan?

We auditioned one day in London — Stefan had a morning appointment with us because he had a 2nd callback with Madonna for her film WE straight afterward. We thought he was terrific and prayed Madonna wouldnt mess it up for us by hiring him for WE as she was shooting when we were, so he would have had to choose. I think there was then some delay in their casting process and so stefan was free to work with us which was lucky for us. Emma was the last actor we saw that day, we had her pencilled in for 5 30 but hadnt had a confirmation back from the agency. So we were just packing up to go home when she arrived for her audition. She, like Stefan, was the best on the day and we thought that they would go really well together — luckily they did otherwise it would have been a disaster as with only the two of them on screen throughout we really have to believe that they have had a relationship. If we dont believe that they once matched up with each other, then the whole think sinks. there wasnt enough time to get them together for a reading before we shot.  They are both terrific I was very lucky to find them both so easily — they were a joy to work with both very talented and without any weird divaish behaviour!

3.  Was there a rehearsal process for you and the actors?

I prefer no rehearsals for film. Obviously when I work in theatre I rehearse, but in film I really think it helps with the spontaneity of it all that is so vital to getting fresh up close and personal performances, captured forever, that there be no formal rehearsal beforehand. Otherwise it can look staged and tired. Or, worse, orchestrated. Before we shot each take I did a line and movement rehearsal for my camera guys, but we didnt work off a storybooard, or discuss individual shots beforehand, just the overall look and feel i was going for. Luckily I worked with an outstanding young cinematographer, Edgar Dubvroskiy who intuitively understood what I was trying to achieve and made it all look stunning.

4. The beach location is captured beautifully, what was it like shooting at Branksome Chine, Dorset?

I recced the beach about two years before i shot the fillm as i knew it well, but wanted to make sure I used the most thematically and cinematically interesting stretch of it: beautiful wide empty but isolated sandy beach backed with this angry green overgrowth behind, climbing in tangles up the cliffs. I think that at the finale this is a very threatening presence and works really well for the darkness of it.

There was a beach lieutenant the local authorities keep on the beach throughout the holiday season (our shoot days were his last days for the season) — he was fantastic and although he was strict about what we could and couldnt do he helped us a lot on both days.

5. What was the shoot itself like, any difficulties?

We had a bit of a weather related disaster, limited to 12 reels because of the expense, I shot through 7 reels in the first few hours as the film has to be shot in real time, so when the weather went predictably British and inconsistent on us, I had to keeep stopping no matter if i was 8 minutes or 8 seconds in — and then suddenly after experiencing strong winds, rain, storms, bright sunshine, clouds all completely inconsistent within the space of threee hours, the clouds and rain vanished and left us with more temperate weather before turning into a storm again and we had to wait a further few hours to get the wide reverse shots you see in some of the closing shots.   I think we turned over the first day about 9ish and the second day a bit later as we knew the second day we didnt have that much left to do which helped us be way more creative. So we shot essentially in a day and a half. The final day the weather was beautiful and sunny and the very next day it rained and didn’t stop for about a month so we were really lucky we got it in the can.

6.  The music is so haunting, especially the final sequence – what was it like working with Leonardo and Rodrigo?

I wanted the music to be sparse and haunting I think that anything fuller or orchestral would have saturated it. I left it up to them to choose whatever they wanted within that guideline.   Like all the other crew and cast Id never worked with Rodrigo and Leonardo before, but I told him expressly what I was hoping it would sound like, but left it up to him how he achieved that. He came back with some excellent stuff which we tweaked a couple of times to get perfect.

7.  The ending is really well done – was this the original idea for the ending, what do you want people to get from it?  I love the final shot with the ocean out of focus and Emma’s hair flying in the wind (great shot!).

The ending of the film is exacty as originally written (about two years before it was filmed). However, the shots we choose on the day and in the edit suite were all ad hoc which is what i love about film, that it is so fluid and having terrific crew and cast further enhances this fluidity otherwise you have no choices to cut into / away from. Poor Edgar his arm was falling off getting that final static shot he was dying for me to yell cut, but i wanted to ensure we had 45 seconds of it rather than shooting five seconds and just push in repeat in the edit.  Like the rest of the film i wanted it to be real time.   An audience will always take away very different things no matter how directly you might point them to a particular conclusion.. Barthes Death of the Author is so relevant to a piece like this: only each audience member can decide Michaels ultimate fate.

8.  What’s up next for this short?

We are very lucky to have been invited as  Official Selection to over 17 festivals thus far and we have won two best short awards and two best director awards for which we are very grateful and most recently my cinematographer and both actors also picked up awards for Talk. Shooting it was a great experience, and the past few months as people around the world have taken to it, thats also been a real trip reaching new audiences in places weve never even been — we are nothing without our audiences.

9.  According to IMDB, you have a future project called Dickens and Isabella.  Is this your feature length debut film project?  Can you tell me anything about this project?  Just from the short synopsis it sounds most interesting!

Yes, Dickens and Isabella will be my feature debut which we already have casting agent, sales agent and interest from investors, so thats all very exciting. Directly before that, if the timings all work out, Im directing a feature short (30 mins) adapted from a short story by a world famous short story writer (but i cant tell you who yet). We will soon begin looking for a talented actress that could play a disturbed 17 year old European girl. tell your readers to contact us, ideally with a link to a youtube showreel.

The film itself is set in genoa where Dickens spent an exceptionally troubled period of his life…and thats all i can say at the moment…

10.  Can you tell me a bit more about Moriarty Entertainment?

Moriarty Entertainment is a film, tv and theatre company specialising in quality productions and they will be producing both the feature short and Dickens and Isabella.

I hope you enjoyed this look into Filmmaker Callie Lane.  Here is the Trailer to her wonderfully haunting short film – TALK.

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28 09 2015

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