Straight Faces

There’s a thin line between reality and adding made up bits to a story to tell your friends. “Straight Faces” crosses that line very early on. Very boldly.

Rally Ridberg - the face behind the Straight Faces - was cool enough to answer our very straight questions.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
London-based writer/director with a passion for satire and genre-blending as social commentary.

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
I've always enjoyed making films...yes, it can be stressful at times - but the pros always seem to outweigh the cons. I think it's our expectations that let us down, aspiring directors expect the world and on one level - why shouldn't we? In this day and age anything's achievable. But it doesn't necessarily follow we're therefore going to impress with our first, second or even third films. I reckon it takes a lot of experience and honing of the craft to close that gap between what we visualise and what ultimately makes it to screen.

Why this film?
Sensationalist and obsessive homophobia has always intrigued me. There is just too much going on with that sort of visceral aggression to ignore.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
I feel as though my favourite actors may not be right for my dream project. But when I think of a role for say; De Niro, in my scathing critique of social exclusion and marginalisation in contemporary Britain - I'll be sure to let you know!

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
I see myself writing.

Straight Faces

Straight Faces

Straight Faces was officially selected (we never select anything unofficially) for the June edition of CineShots and will be screened accordingly on 11.6. at the Streatham Space Project.
For tickets, timings and tiny little details hop on HERE.

Bath

Can one word ruin a holiday? Can it ruin a relationship? Or can it build one?
So little words, so many questions!

Bath is written and directed by Meredith Dobbs whom we are more than delighted to host for the second time at CineShots. And she never manages to let us down. Meredith, take it away.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
Maybe an interview about a film I've made? But an advertisement? I don't know what it would be for.

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
I just genuinely love working with actors and a team of filmmakers. If I'm going to anything worthwhile worth my time, it will always be this.

Why this film?
I wanted to tell a story about invisible queerness and how hard it can be to stand up and say, "I want this invisible thing to be seen." I was trying to work out how a loving partner could be the antagonist that, to create the central conflict in my film, and I thought about how politics can affect our intimate relationships negatively. So invisible queerness and politics in relationships became the central themes, and I think both are quite topical and relatable.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
Casting would depend on the project, but I'd definitely want to work with actors I get along with really well. I think that's especially important for improv, because the method requires the director and actor to ask a lot of each other. As for the unlimited budget, I'd use it to make sure everyone on set was paid fairly, had reasonable working hours, childcare on set, long enough breaks between shifts, etc. And after that we can talk about crane shots and expensive GFX.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
I want to write and direct narrative features. And probably edit them, too. I'd also like to edit features directed by others because I do really love editing.

Meredith Dobbs

Meredith Dobbs

We won’t tell you much about the film but let’s just say there’a a lot at stake here. And you’ll just have to pop down to the ol’ Streatham Space Project on 11.6. at 19.30 to see how it all unrolls.
Tickets right HERE.

"Have You Seen Buster?"

If CineShots was a Scooby Doo cartoon Emmanuel Li and his gang would be a bunch of meddling kids and we, the old guys, would always be angry at them for showing everyone we’re just a bunch of pretenders.
And that’s because the guys behind The Big Tent Films know their ropes pretty well.

We interogated Emmanuel Lie - writer and director of Have You Seen Buster? - in a haunted castle right after his Mistery Machine van broke down.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
It'd be a very unflattering photo of me followed by "MISSING: Have You Seen Emmanuel Li? Last Seen in the Walthamstow Marshes."

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
Film is such a unique and fantastic art form in its accessibility and ability to appeal to absolutely everyone. I've always had a passion for stories and to be able to have the creative control and freedom to bring a story to life from script to screen is intensely rewarding. The process is, of course, arduous and often frustrating, be it writer's block or on-set complications, but filmmaking being the ultimate team sport, working with so many talented people, sharing in these ups and downs, solving problems together, all while striving to tell a great story will never cease to spark joy in me. And hopefully, when all is said and done, it will spark joy in the audience as well.

Why this film?
Having just come off making a bleak, gritty drama last summer, with many more dark comedies in the works, I wanted to take a departure and make something sweet and charming without any cynicism. I love dogs but have never had one, so part of the "searching-for-a-dog" plot came from that. The location also played a big part - exploring Walthamstow Village made me think of all the wacky characters that could inhabit such a colourful, vibrant world, a world I desperately wanted to share with audiences. Being a magician, I love twists and I won't spoil it here, but the ending came from something that happened that was really close to me, which was the main inspiration for the film.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
Wow, what an opportunity! I'd make a darkly comedic Neo-Western crime caper - think Reservoir Dogs with a Coen Brothers twist. It'd be set in harsh, urban LA and then transition to the gorgeous, sunswept backdrop of the Mojave Desert and hell, the Grand Canyon while we're at it! It'd follow a ragtag bunch of criminals who made off with the wrong suitcase containing something seemingly worthless but are now hunted by rival gangs, a corrupt detective with a crossbow, and a female assassin whose preferred method of transport is horseback. It'd star Taron Egerton, Daniel Kaluuya, Dean Norris, Timothee Chalamet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Charlize Theron. It's a crazy, chaotic wild ride and maybe even a bit messy and trashy, but among the madness, I'd love to explore what drives people to commit crime and the complex disparity between generations through the father-sons relationship of the main group.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
My dream would be to continue doing what I love - filmmaking and storytelling - for the rest of my life and be lucky enough to make a living out of it. There's nothing quite like the collective sharing of a story through film, and to be able to provide that experience and create art that makes the drudgery of life that much more bearable would be an honour.

Emmanuel Li

Emmanuel Li

To see if anyone’s seen Buster you’ll have to pop to Streatham Space Project 11.6. at 19.30 and watch the film with five other amazing shorts. Emmanuel will also be there for Q&A and your regular autographs.
Make sure you get your TICKETS.

Spar

Can one find their place and fall in love while kicking someone’s ass?
We weren’t sure about it either. Well, not before seeing Spar anyway.

Anthony Vander, the writer, director and producer behind this powerful short opened up to us about his thoughts and dreams.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
Filmmaker on a mission. Join the revolution.

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
There is something rewarding about about finishing a film that has involved been blood sweat and tears. Every process has challenges in their own varied ways from scheduling and time to budget and post production but that is all part of the process. We as a filmmakers create because we believe in the project and the story and willing to get the job done because of this belief. I remember when i was making my self funded film Sweetboy. I couldn’t afford to hire a driver to take us to North Devon to film one of our scenes so one of the actors (Kwame) kindly offered to be a driver. During the four hour drive we stopped at a service station for coffee’s and after tens minutes of being there Kwame rushed out of the toilet with his hands wet screaming. He had dropped the keys of the rented van down the toilet and flushed them. I had to get a driver to come two hours from Heathrow to replace the lost keys which cost nearly thousand pounds. It was one of the most stressful days ever and it was only day three of a fourteen day shoot. I did think about quitting at the time on the day but we overcame that huge difficulty along with many more on that project and the film went on to screen not only at The American black Film Festival but also on television.

Why this film?
I love boxing and boxing films but they always seem to have a similar character arc and usually more than often it is from the male perspective. I wanted to look at the challenges and adversity training to be a boxer and also gender orientation within the sport. Spar main antagonist is Isabel, an amateur boxer, who is training for the day in an East London gym while her usual facility is under construction. She has to deal with the frustration and struggles of not only finding sparring but also experience prejudice in a male orientated boxing gym. I wanted to pose many questions…Will Isabel get sparring in the male oriented boxing gym? Will one of the stable mates from Left Hook boxing gym help Isabel in her goal to progress as a fighter?  I wanted the landscape to become a character in the film in terms of the way it is shot.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
Would be my film i have in development called The Tutor. I would cast Michael Fassbinder alongside relatively unknown actors that i know. Although the spaces and landscape in this film are condensed, the unlimited budget i would allow me to cheat it in terms of a bigger set.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
I have a feature film in development called The Tutor which i want to shoot this year. The film deals with themes of education and adversity. As well as being an filmmaker, actor and producer I have also worked in teaching for many years. They always say "write what you know best." These themes that are present within the film are themes that not only inspire me but also need to be talked and acted upon. The theme of adversity is something that is universal and provides inspiration. All of us on some form or level have had to face adversity so it inspired me hugely. I want the film to feel as honest and true as possible. I'm influenced by “social realist” filmmakers among many others so I will take inspiration from their works of art.

Anthony Vander

Anthony Vander

And if this fired up your interest - which it should - feel free to grab a ticket HERE and join us 11.6. at 19.30 for our 5th CineShots at the Streatham Space Project where we will screen Spar among five other shorts and have Anthony over for Q&A and regular chit chat.
If you won’t be with us you will most defenitely be somewere else!

The Trouble With Retirement

Watching a film about two old buddies tha just got retired doesn’t sound too exciting, really. Knowing one of those guys is a retired assassin, well, we’re stirring things up a bit. Realizing they’re both retired assassins. Now we’re in trouble.

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An interesting film requires an interesting idea. Surely an interesting idea requires an interesting filmmaker…
Here’s Charlie Lilly:

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
A young upcoming writer/director, Charlie Lilly, uses his love for genre cinema to talk about his generation in his new feature film.

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
I have often heard directors and producers refer to the filmmaking process as high level problem solving and I couldn’t agree more. No matter how much you plan or prepare for a shoot things will always go wrong, but actually sometimes things going awry on set can be a blessing in disguise; having to think up a quick solution on your feet often leads to a new idea that is better than the original one. Sometimes what you thought was going to be your masterpiece turns into a rough draft so bad it makes you physically ill, and you think all the long hours spent shooting have been a waste. What makes filmmaking magical to me is to then bring creativity and new ideas and turn what at first appears like an irredeemable mess into something you’re not only proud of, but has even exceeded what you’d first imagined.

Why this film?
I’ve always liked the idea of normalising larger than life jobs that people might have. The concept behind this short comes from a simple question; what happens to a hitman when he retires? Does he still get leaving cards, and drinks at the pub? The film starts with a working class hitman retiring and taking his friend for some drinks in the pub before going on holiday with his wife. It’s a comedy-crime that doesn’t want to be a parody – it follows the visual tropes and beats of a crime genre film. Although there’s plenty of humour and over the top violence, the film also has emotional moments – my hope is for the audience to feel like the characters are real, relatable people.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want... 
My dream project would be to make a British hangout movie like Dazed and Confused where the audience gets to know and love the characters, to then bring in an unexpected horror element half way through. Too often characters in horror feel like cannon fodder, eliminating the tension and the drama from the killing – I want the audience to be genuinely terrified because they don’t want to see the characters they’ve grown attached to getting picked off one by one. I envision it as Richard Linklater meets From Dusk Till Dawn but (the threat being something a little more grounded than an army of vampires). I think that would be a truly terrifying experience. I’d like to cast young, British actors such as Will Poulter, John Boyega and Letitia Wright who are naturally likable and charming but have shown extreme flexibility when it comes down to acting, excelling in different genres and styles.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
My future goal regarding filmmaking is to start making features. I want to one day be seen as the director who brought the public’s eye back to Britain and its culture, hopefully starting a new wave of big budget original British storytelling. European and British cinema has an enormous pool of talent for films that too often is relegated to small releases. In the past, films such as Babylon, The Long Good Friday and Alfie brought British culture of their time into the mainstream - but I feel like there’s been a gap since then and my generation has been mostly represented in American films, which while great can’t represent exactly the same experience as my own.

Charlie Lilly

Charlie Lilly

The Trouble Wiht Retirement will be screened in all its’ glory on the Streatham Space Project’s big screen 11.6. at 19.30. Well, that’s when the door opens, the screenings will start at 20.00 so you have a time for a quick pint.
Tickets HERE so you won’t be left standing outside. (They’re also available on the door but they’re a quid cheaper online. Just sayin’)

The Drive

How does one talk about memories when the memory starts dissolving?
There’s films about father-son relationships and there’s films that make you want to call your parents and tell them how much you love them. Guess which one is The Drive.

Adam Thomas Wright is much younger than he should be to create a film such as The Drive and we’re always amazed by the talent and will of the new filmmaking generation.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
Adam Thomas Wright: Starring in Mr Potato Head biopic

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
Yeah, filmmaking can be very challenging. Take, for example, the sheer unpredictability of it. On The Drive, the weather really influenced the project in a bad way. When you are on a shoestring budget, you've got to plan properly with stringent time restraints on kit hire etc. And when Mother Nature comes along and throws it awry, it can be hard. But each challenge is an experience to learn from. Everything gets a little easier after each challenge you face. And that's worth it.

Why this film?
I was actually sitting in a car, driving down a country road late at night. I thought about how cool it would be to have a series of shots using the repitition of street lights and road markings. Then I thought about the type of conversations people have late at night on a long journey. I have had experience of dementia in my family, and I thought it was a topic worth discussing and perhaps be able to find some light in such a difficult situation.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
Some kind of surreal twist on reality; I love films that take real life and make it even more uncomfortable. I like the idea of making audiences really feel something indescribable. There are so many talented actors out there, but John Malkovich and Paul Dano are personal favourites, and Elsie Fisher was a delight in Eighth Grade this year.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
I am writing a new script at the moment for a new short. It's a bit different in theme, but I've learnt lessons from The Drive. 

Adam Thomas Wright

Adam Thomas Wright

The Drive will be screened 11.6. with Adam as our guest for the Q&A.
Tickets are available HERE and they will open the door for you at 19:30 at the usual Streatham Space Project.

May's Line-Up

Another month, another CineShots.
We’ve talked to all the filmmakers online, now it’s time to meet them in person and watch their masterpieces.

Here’s the rundown for this Tuesday:

Still the same place (Streatham Space Project) still the same time (19.30), still the same quality of fun.
And still the same place to buy the tickets - HERE

Whoever won’t be with us will definitely be somewhere else!

Short Straw

Short films tend to surprise us with a nice twist at the end. Some do it good, some do it better. And some make us think ‘hmm, there might actually be a feature film somewhere in there…’

Ricky J Payne is as South Londoner as one can get. Born and bred in Brixton he is a perfect example of a healthy ‘let’s make some films!’ filmmaker. Here’s how he answered our questions.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
Lets play to find the story, and when we have found it, be unrelenting in its detail.

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
Seeing the story come to life;  taking a shape through the love and craft of the cast and crew. Seeing it, sat down beside audiences (especially when they don't know me). Seeing their reactions whatever they are. (Though it made me tear up when the audience in L.A. laughed at my comedy RIGHTSWIPE.  Seeing an audience understand what you're are conveying, is one of the best feelings ever). Then after that, is the understanding what worked and what didn't.Then taking that and pushing my love and craft in story telling further. 

Why this film?
Opportunity combined with pre production planning on a larger project called SEED. 'Short' Version, a test a film for that larger project which has now it's own bigger story which we plan to do separate from SEED.  I was filming with Director of Photography Diogo Atadini and Producer Victor Rios on another shoot, and then after, we were dropping off the equipment at Diogo's old studio.  I was inspired by the industrial elevator leading to it. I said to Victor, "We need to use this before Diogo moves out!" 
So I went away, sat down , thought about the elevator and the type of characters or situations it could give me and at the same time, I remember discussing about mobile film festivals and competitions. Opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  1. Get my feet back into making scifi which I love and 2, test myself and the others who would join me, on using a mobile phone as the camera. After lots of Jammy Dodgers and Tea and great work from the cast and crew, Short Straw was born. 

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
One of my dream projects is an anthology scifi stories in the vein of  X-Files / The Expanse / Night Flyers , Men in Black and Cloverfield.  Using not just narrative, but also dance, music, paint, stop motion and practical effects. Practical Effects is a major thing or next step for me. I want to do a scifi film with majority of effects in camera, and three of the first major projects in that anthology has been drafted, however, funding is required to make them work. 

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
I have five immediate goals  which are scheduled throughout this year. SEED, STALKER,  Faye Ray VMA Dance Season 2, SNAKES (Working Title) and RIGHTSWIPE. SEED is one of the official scifi stories of the anthology mentioned above. SEED requires a built set , a studio to film in and moments of stop motion. I don't want to do it run and gun, that  wouldn't work for the vision I have for it.  Where SHORTSTRAW shows what we can do run and gun,  SEED's purpose is a next step to show what I can do with modest funding on a 'scifi' short film within a studio format, and give an idea of the the production value / style I want to achieve for the rest of the  scifi stories that will follow that.  STALKER I cannot discuss at the moment, however more news will follow once we begin festival submissions next month .  Faye Ray VMA Season 2 is a series of dance videos in collaboration with Faye Reader, who is dancer, choreographer and poet. Our first season ,  A Time to Play, which is really us getting to know each other in reccee sessions is out now on Vimeo, Youtube and Instagram.  Snakes (Working Title) is a Cyber Punk short film I'm developing and will be working with actor / fellow filmmaker Billie Vee. Rightswipe is a non-romantic comedy of the challenges with online dating, and shows my love for directing awkward / dark comedy.  Currently touring Festivals, and thanks to an amazing cast & crew,  has achieved Best International Film LA Short Film Festival and Best Comedy at London Independent Awards. I want to expand on it with Writers and Producers Max Warrick and Carina Birrell and we're currently in talks to do so. Scifi , Fantasy and Arkward / Dark Comedy is my love and direction for the next 10 years.

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So come on down to Streatham Space Project this Tuesday, 14.5. at 19.30 and watch Short Straw among five other shorts and have a chat with Ricky!
Tickets here!

The Traveller

If you take xenophobia, pour it in a single-bedroom cocktail glass, give it a gentle stir and finish it off with a squeeze of a fresh lemon that might turn out to not actually be a lemon at all - you get The Traveller

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Sashen Naicker wrote this short gem that is The Traveller and we shot him over our set of questions.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
Filmmaker Sashen Naicker is developing his latest project on Islamophobia in the US. In The Traveller he explores how the news media shapes and distorts the image of an entire community with sound bytes and over simplification of complex geo political issues. Yet in all the turmoil and conflict, the film reveals that no matter where we come from, or what our religion or skin color is, we all have more in common than we realize. 

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
Being able to tell a story that means something and can resonate with an audience. There is nothing more satisfying than having your work shown to an audience, and watching them being entertained, informed and starting a dialogue on a topic that may be outside their comfort zone.

Why this film?
Islamophobia is very real around the world especially in the US. It has affected people I know and care about. There is also a rise in fear of the “other” here in the UK and the US. I wanted to show people who watch The Traveller that we have more in common with each other and need to stop separating ourselves based on religion, skin color and ideology.

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want...
I’d love Joel Edgerton for Michael. Samuel L. Jackson for the Major. Stephen Lang for Dan. And off course myself as Tariq.

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
Producing and completing the feature version of The Traveller. Get it into festivals and secure a distribution deal.

Gareth Kay, director

Gareth Kay, director

The Traveller will be part of our May’s lineup on CineShots 14.5. with part of the crew available for Q&A and chit-chat.
Make sure you get your tickets right HERE and we’ll see you Tuesday!

RUCK IT!

What starts out like a sports commercials, gets you to tears three minutes later and ends up making you feel all warm and hopeful?

RuckItPoster.jpg

Ruck it is one of those films one simply can’t and shouldn’t ignore. On the top of it being very well made.
Kelvin DeSena, the director, answered our series of questions.

There is an ad in a newspaper with your photo in it. What does it say?
‘’If he can make films. Anyone can! Look at that melonhead!’’

When it comes to complexity and difficulty of producing an art work, filmmaking is very close to the top. What makes the whole journey, often unpleasant, worthwhile for you?
I’m no tortured artist nor do I see filmmaking as special. Yes it’s hard, but so is anything worth doing. I think we should spend less time talking about how hard it is and more time talking about how easy it is. Filmmaking has never been so accessible. More people should be doing it! It’s so much fun!

Why this film?
Honest answer is, I was approached to make it by a guy at Mencap. He had been to a private screening of a short documentary telling the story of a swimming club called Swim Dem Crew. He wanted to do something similar as they have some incredible stories to tell and we were lucky enough to be approached to make it! I thought it was an amazing opportunity and threw myself into it. Plus, I'm a big rugby fan as well!

You have unlimited budget, green light for your dream project and can cast anyone you want…
I would make an awful big budget film. It would probably have giant laser beams in the sky with Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting large heavy objects whilst delivering terrible one liners...actually that sounds pretty cool!!!
I think I would use the money to make five low budget films, casting new and exciting actors that can add a new voice. Would also be nice to have Riz Ahmed on board as well. I would love to see British Asians represented more in film as I think we have something to contribute.  

What are your future goals regarding filmmaking?
To make more and to get better, whilst making new friends and having a laugh, and if I can continue to pay my rent as well, then that would be a bonus.

Kelvin DeSena

Kelvin DeSena

Ruck it! will be screened on our May CineShots and we will have Kelvin DeSena there to talk to so get your questions ready, get your tickets here and we’ll see you Tuesday, 14.5. at 19.30!