Thursday, 1 August 2013

Framing Film - Simon Horrocks - Part 2

Hey everyone. Today we have the second part of our interview with Simon Horrocks! If you have yet to check out the first part make sure to read it first here.

Again a big thank you to Simon for taking the time to talk to us and also to YOU for reading!


Ferenc Igali: Can you talk to us a little bit about the actors/crew - how hard was it doing your first casting/how was it working on your first feature set with a crew?

Simon Horrocks: I didn't really have a crew. I had a sfx make-up artist and a great friend who agreed to try to do sound for me - he'd never recorded sound on set before. I did all the camerawork, despite never having shot a film before. We had 1 camcorder, 1 light, and one mic. So the whole thing was very small - which created a certain intimacy you would struggle very hard to achieve on a traditional film set. Casting was a mixture of traditional auditions and finding friends who I thought would work for the role. Finding Tim was a huge bonus - he's a great actor and really held the film together. We were very very lucky to get him. But all the actors and 'non-actors' were great - Jannica, Simeon, Cristiana, Kristina, Oliver, Geraldine, John, Andrew and all - they all did such a great job.

FI: Any particularly memorable experiences on set? SH: Loads ;)

FI: Top five favourite directors? 
SH: Orson Welles, Jean Vigo, Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, Hitchcock... uh oh, I only get 5? I've just started...

FI: Influences on Third Contact?SH: Most certainly...

FI: Some directors don't like answering this question but we ask it anyway - if there's any film that you could have worked on in the past, which one would you have wished to have the chance to work on? 
SH: Any Orson Welles film - you'd give anything to have been on set for one of those, right?

FI: Favourite film (or films) that really move or inspire you?
SH: Citizen Kane, Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, The Third Man, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Eraserhead, Elephant Man, Le Jetee, Vertigo, Brazil, Sleeper, Manhattan, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, L'Atlanta, Macbeth (Welles), Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Jaws, Duel, Les Diaboliques, The Dark Knight, Up, Pinocchio, The Seventh Seal, Scenes from a Marriage, The Magician, Knife In Water, Repulsion, The Bridge On the River Kwai, The Pledge, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Conversation, Point Blank, Don't Look Now, Performance, Bad Timing, Rosemary's Baby, If... , The Killing, 2001, The Shining, Kiss Me Deadly, Double Indemnity, Night of the Hunter, Memento, Blade Runner, Hunger, American Graffiti, Blowup, Psycho, The Snowball Express and all those other ones....

FI: So where's Third Contact going from here? 
SH: To the big screening at the BFI IMAX, streamed around the globe to our kickstarter backers. There will be a Q&A with me as well. From there, a cinema release, starting in London and hopefully spreading to the rest of the world.

FI: Obviously social media was critical in helping spread the word for the film to get backers - any tips on how to maximise the effectiveness of social media?
SH: It's a full time job. Twitter I have found is by far the most effective - its seems to have the perfect balance of messaging, chat, and your profile is like your business card. Because of the way it limits the information you can provide, it makes it much easier to find the people you want to connect with. It also has big potential to spread your message, if you put the time in. The key is to engage people - you need to start a conversation. If you just spam your message, you'll mostly be ignored. It also helps to be yourself - if you hide behind a logo, or a film title, or made up identity, people won't engage with you as much.

You have to imagine it as a huge party. The boring people are the ones who talk about themselves all the time. Your eyes glaze over and you make your excuse and leave. If you feel someone is hiding something, you stay guarded and don't fully engage. You can see big, established companies struggle to use social media fully because of this. 

FI: Like many independent filmmakers - you clearly rely on networking to get things done. Any tips for first time filmmakers on how to make the most of networking?SH: Look for people with similar interests and who are agreeable with your style of working. In fact, I didn't do too much networking for Third Contact because I did most of the technical stuff myself. The film is self-funded and shot pretty much without a crew. I did most of the technical work myself or used friends who were happy to chip in. My old friend Justin Rogers did all the CGI work and kinda saved the film, really. To hire someone to do the work he did would, alone, have cost more than the budget of the film.

 FI: Can you tell us a bit about your production process - any favourite equipment? What was Third Contact shot with, for example? Did you have to hire a lot of the equipment or did you end up buying it? 
SH: I bought the most expensive camera I could - an HV30 Canon camcorder. It's not even semi-professional. It was designed pretty much as a high-end consumer camera to take on holiday or film your friend's wedding. It was never intended to be used to shoot a feature film on. But it had a bit of a cult following, so I chose it for that. The microphone was the most expensive bit of kit - £700. You can't really cut corners with sound equipment. For lighting I bought various lamps and battery powered strip lights from Homebase. Plus someone found a small redhead in a cupboard at the BBC which was about to be thrown away, so I nabbed it.

I didn't hire any equipment. I bought everything and spent about £1500.

FI: Post production - colouring, editing and such - what was your experience on this side of the filmmaking process? 
SH: As with everything, I hadn't done any of this before, so I had to learn as I went along. There are various issues you have to deal with when you don't have a pro set up. For example, for some reason the footage appeared darker in Final Cut Pro than it did as QT footage. As soon as I output it, it comes out lighter. So I had to edit dark footage, knowing it would come out brighter. I asked around - friends and online forums - but nobody came up with a solution.

FI: Experience of film festivals? Any tips or thoughts to share on this front?
SH: I feel like film festivals have become very narrow-minded in recent years; very conservative. The film world in general seems to be in a transition and struggling to cope with new ideas. Festivals were set up to promote celluloid creations, in a certain way, and they don't seem to be in any hurry to change or adapt. How relevant are festivals now? We can make a film (feature film) without much of a crew and get it to millions of people online at the click of a button. Meanwhile, festivals are still working at the old pace of things. I mean, I think they're beautiful and fascinating, like old steam trains.

What you need to understand with festivals is that films are selected mostly back stage, out of the public eye. They charge you to submit your film, but what they don't tell you is they don't charge many of the people whose films they select. Most films are selected via the industry network, through contacts. Those people rarely pay submission fees.
 If you want to get your film selected, don't just download the submission form and send it off with that rather expensive fee. You're better off building up relationships with programmers. That's how you get your film selected.

FI: Finally, any words of wisdom that you can share with those considering to chase their dream and turn their idea into a fully fledged film? 
SH: Make your film the most creative way you can. Don't let funding became an obstacle.Make a film with your phone or a camcorder. Make it YOUR way. Then promote it yourself and have as little to do with the industry as possible.

Thanks again, and another big congratulations on your work - we really do look forward to seeing the concept driven Third Contact on screens soon - and fully expect to be blown away! Thank you for taking time out to join us! 


Make sure to check Simon out on Twitter and find out more about his movie right here!

But You Didn't Hear it From Us,

Mr & Misses

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