Tag Archives: Zach Rosenau

From Barra With Love

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There’s Sabine Hellmann, our hilariously sweet but incredibly able sound recordist perched majestically on a rocky outcrop, arm outstretched holding the boom like a Roman standard bearer. All the while listening with the ears of a hawk for any alien noise that may tarnish the scene playing out below her….. As Zach and I constantly agreed, it was the best crew EVER.

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Shooting in such a remote area may put people off, despite the beauty on show in these pictures it was no picnic. Left behind on the mainland were such luxuries as central heating and a regular supply of hot water, and at the end of the fortnight there weren’t many people on set not in need of a serious hose down, but I direct your attention back to the pictures (I have to stress that these examples were taken on my phone) and the light. That beautiful, perfectly diffused HMI in the sky is reason enough for setting up a film in an area such as Barra. It made my job as Assistant Director very easy as we rarely had to place a light… A reflector and a flag here and there were all that was required to spill gorgeous, natural illumination onto the actor’s faces which saved us bags of time. And of course, this is the very location that Alexander MacKendrick chose to film the world famous 1949 Scottish picture WHISKY GALORE, the local RBS bank has a blue plaque tacked to it in his honour. We also took great delight in looking awestruck at some whiskey bottles recovered from the actual ship the film was based on in the local Hotel. It was like being in a very small Hard Rock Cafe for movie buffs.

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All in all the shoot went incredibly well. It wasn’t without incident (what film shoot is??) but solutions were found for every problem we came across. There are a couple of scenes to shoot in the New Year then the work of stitching the picture together will commence. One of the downsides of shooting on 16mm is the lack of instant gratification but I suppose this also adds to the excitement. Ian Marrs, our camera assistant and HD disciple would say this is one of the biggest pro’s of working on digital, you see what you shoot as soon as you’ve shot it. There can be no greater satisfaction however, than getting your processed rushes handed to you and them looking like film. Real, organic, honest celluloid. Christmas can go hang, I’m looking forward to January!

Special mention should go to our actors Gillchrist, Emily and Paul (Surnames to follow, sorry) who were enthusiastically signed on to making the picture work and really embraced their characters, it was a joy to see them work.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I think another couple of half hour showers should see me back to normal. I’ll leave you with a gratuitous sunset shot. Again, captured on my phone.

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It’s a man’s right to stop….

It’s nice to be able to sit at my newly repositioned pc (thanks to the female feng shui influence of my new flatmate) and get some words down on the blog. It’s been a nuts few weeks with a vast array of personal, professional and not so professional incidents and upheavals happening faster than a crowd fleeing the cinema halfway through the new Bond movie…. If they’ve managed to get that far.

On a Bond note, I’m not going to see the new picture. I didn’t enjoy the last one and have never really got what the fuss is about. Daniel Craig is a decent actor but I’ve always looked at Bond with a certain level of disdain, which kind of renders any trip to see the movie an inevitable disappointment.

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007: A load of old tosh

So, PLASTIC is finished, completed, done. It’s the longest (3 1/2 months) I’ve ever worked on one project which was great and I really think we nailed getting the atmosphere of the piece onto film. I’ve also just finished shooting a 3 minute experimental short of my own which goes by the working title SHADES OF REMORSE. This is my first crack at stop frame animation which is incredibly painstaking but wonderfully rewarding, it’s also the first time I’ve worked with an editor which is a strange experience. Handing over your tapes to someone and letting them get on with it is liberating but unsettling. Kind of like leaving your child with a babysitter for the first time, you just want to be calling every half hour to ask if everything’s fine…. is she sleeping ok….. Does she have a temperature??

From that lot it’s straight into pre production for the new Zach Rosenau picture THE INAUDIBLE CRIMES OF JASPER PIDGEON…. What a great title right? On this film I’m going to be his assistant director / producer which, considering we’re shooting the film on black and white 16mm on the tiny isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides over 2 weeks at the start of December, should present some interesting challenges and stunning results. I’m really looking forward to working with Zach; our views on cinema are very much aligned as is our passion for this project.

There’s been painfully little time for the consumption of pictures in the last 2 weeks, I feel like Christian Bale in the last third of RESCUE DAWN, all emaciated through a lack of movies. My new flatmate has been a terrible influence which has caused a tumbling off the wagon, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. The upside of that is her willingness to learn about and watch films. Last night we broke ourselves in gently.

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For all it’s predictability this is a great movie with some razor sharp dialogue, I particularly loved the way the stoner friends verbally rip up the character “Martin” (played brilliantly deadpan by Martin Starr) as he strives to win a bet that involves him not cutting his hair or shaving for a whole year, these relentless jibes really had me in stitches. From “The shoe bomber Richard Reid”, to “Scorsese on coke”, “Serpico”, “Cat Stevens” and “Late John Lennon”, the guy takes it from all angles. This movie is peppered with genuine laugh out loud moments and having not seen much of Apatow’s other stuff, I’m looking forward to checking out these films.

In honour of this film’s great dialogue, I’ve selected 3 of my favourite dialogue scenes in cinema. There could be many more of course but this is just to get the ball rolling. Feel free to chip in with your favourite scenes where the words are king…….

First up is the Return Of The Jedi scene from the Kevin Smith film CLERKS (1994). I just love the pace of the conversation and the blind logic of the reasoning. I read somewhere recently that Smith’s new film ZACH AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO was a rip off of the Judd Apatow approach to filmmaking. This is laughable as Smith was doing what Apatow is aiming for now a decade before he’d made a picture….. Enjoy.

From the comedic to the downright sharp, the opening scene of Quentin Tarantino’s visceral debut RESERVOIR DOGS (1992). There’s nothing that needs to be said about this scene other than it was the start of great things for Steve Buscemi, which in itself is reason enough to love it.

Last up is Dave’s leaving speech from the 1992 James Foley picture GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Ed Harris is fantastic here as is Jack Lemmon and Al Pacino. You just can’t take your eyes off this scene but it’s the verbal exchange that provides its power.

So let’s have it. The cinema dialogue scenes you never tire of seeing.

Last night’s viewing

A common phrase on the school report cards I gingerly handed to my parents some years back was “easily distracted”. Some teachers elaborated on that by saying “has potential but is easily distracted”. The latter phrase really wound up my guardians as it suggested I could do well, but didn’t want to. The heated discussions following such occasions are not remembered with a huge amount of fondness.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Following a successful screening of my recent documentary THE LAST DROP (which is currently going through a re-cut) and a busy stint at the Edinburgh Film Festival and Fringe, I’m left without a project in recognisable pre production, therefore I have to WRITE.


The Last Drop

Now I’m not without ideas, far from it. There’s 3 shorts, an idea for a feature, a documentary and an experimental piece bouncing about in my brain just now, all fighting to get out. Trouble is, I’m easily distracted. I’ve made 3 attempts this weekend alone to sit and get it flowing, but have always been lured onto the rocks by the sirens of attention deficiency.

I should maybe just take a pair of wire clippers to my internet cable and donate my DVD collection to charity.

…….. Anyway.

Yesterday’s attempt at productivity was hampered by a few things, all of them films. My good friend and fellow director, Zach Rosenau sent me a script which he’s hoping to get made at the end of the year. He’s asked me to assistant direct so, having wanted to work with Zach since I met him and because I love the script, the decision to commit to his project wasn’t a hard one. A point of reference for the film is Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT, having not seen it for a while I thought it only right that I revisit it immediately.

On raking the interweb for a movie poster (I love to get the poster in the post, you may have noticed) I came across a blog that described the picture as a “minor Hitchcock classic”. How does one go about making a “minor classic”? Answers on a postcard.

SOAD is actually Hitchcock’s personal favourite and it’s easily in my top 5 Hitch pictures. Joseph Cotten plays a deliciously villainous role as Charlie Oackley, a misogynistic killer of rich widows, who in an attempt to flee the rap for his series of murders, returns to his family home in the hope that small town America will provide refuge from the threat of the chair. The family initially hold him in complete reverence, in particular his niece and namesake young Charlie Newton, played by Teresa Wright. The girl has her uncle on the highest pedestal but it is this bond that proves to be his undoing. A few strange actions by Oackley seem inconsequential until detective and admirer Jack Graham, lets her know just what her perfect uncle is accused of. This leads to a piecing together of previous clues and a rapid deterioration of their relationship which eventually put her life in danger.


Joseph Cotten: Bad Egg


Teresa Wright: She’s got him sussed

In addition to this being a tremendous picture in terms of dramatic progression over 3 acts, it also has all the supplementary characters that add humour to this most terrible of situations. There’s Joe Newton (Charlie’s Papa) and Herbie Hawkins (featuring Hume Cronyn of BREWSTERS MILLIONS and the COCOON films fame in his first role). Both are crime novel enthusiasts who, throughout the film, hold hilarious conversations about how they’d kill each other and get away with it. There’s Ann Newton, the incredibly smart and sarcastic kid who spawned a thousand cinema imitations and Patricia Collinge as Emma Newton, the perfect portrayal of a Middle American matriarch.

I’ve found the first ten minutes of the film on youtube, you can actually watch the whole thing there if you simply can’t wait to get hold of a DVD…….

Second up was a film I remember for its notoriety in my teens. I never saw it on its release….. I have now.

This film has a lot of sex in it, that much is well known. I remember it being labelled pornography back in 1992 but I have to disagree with that. It falls into the category Michael Winterbottom‘s horrifically boring 9 SONGS does in that it shows a relationship and all its elements. For those of us in relationships that still have a hint of passion in them, that includes sex. Where director Jean-Jacques Annaud succeeds and Winterbottom fails is that we actually care about the characters in THE LOVER.


The striking Jane Marsh

The film follows the sexual awakening of a girl in Indochina, 1929. Travelling on a ferry one day she meets The Chinaman, played by Tony Leung Ka Fai. The two immediately fall for each other but cannot realise this coming together in any other way than the physical. He is destined to end up in an arranged marriage, she throws a barrier between them fuelled by social prejudice her family upbringing. It’s an incredibly tense and beautiful film. Other than the moral questions thrown up by the age difference (she’s 15, he’s 32) the question of love itself is investigated.


Tony Leung Ka Fai

This was Jane Marsh’s first film with her career being restricted to only 9 further roles since 1992. Although nowhere near an award winning performance, I think she handles the subject matter well. Seek it out.

Right, back to this script…….