LUCY BRYDON: WRITER AND FILMMAKER

So It Goes: even though the title could be the one for a contemporary bestseller with a happy ending for bored teenagers to read on the beach, Lucy Brydon’s short film is not one that can be associated to cheap drama. Her work tackles psychological issues and focuses on complex characters that are completely laid bare by her uncluttered style. In this nine minute clip, she exposes the paradox of art, which can be both overwhelmingly oppressive and liberating, through the character of a young woman who is struggling to free herself from the psychological domination of an artist who believes that she is his muse.

You just take from meis her final cry before she turns away from him, and is one of the rare spoken parts of the film. So It Goes is indeed largely speechless and there is not much dialogue or music to fill in the empty silences of the protagonists’ lives. A train passing, a phone ringing, a shower running: the sounds of real life become more powerful and build up a tense atmosphere that explodes at the end. In that way, Brydon’s scenario is extremely close to reality and it is almost as if her camera was stuck to the skin of her characters to reveal entirely their thoughts, their questions, and their emotional identities.

It is clear by the maturity of her style that Lucy Brydon already has experience in film making. She graduated in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick, and then completed a Master’s degree in Film Directing at Columbia University, after expanding her experience in the field in Shanghai, where she worked for five years in journalism, film production and art shows. Today, she has an impressive list of contributions to films, festivals and exhibitions, and even publications (she was a contributor to the 2014 Introduction to Scottish Documentary Film). Her work has received international awards, including the Dewar Arts Award and the Panavision New Filmmaker Award, and she now runs Shy Film Productions in London. The icing on the cake? She is originally from Edinburgh…

 

Find out more on her official website or follow her on Twitter.

INTERVIEW: GHAZALEH GOLPIRA, FILMMAKER

My good friend Benjamin Franklin once said: “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins”. To me, this perfectly sums up the personality of Ghazaleh Golpira. It is crystal clear when she talks about her work that she is driven by an immense passion for filmmaking, but this does not mean that her decision to make a career in cinema was not a down-to-earth one. 100% aware of the fact that, as she puts it, “you can’t start right at the top and you need rejections to succeed”, Ghazaleh has a genuine maturity of thought that strongly appears in her work and in the themes she tackles. Today, Ghazaleh is adding the final touches to the first short film that she entirely wrote, directed and produced herself. Ángel Viajera is an eight-minute film set in Spain that portrays the relationship between a young schoolgirl and a negligent adult going through an emotional crisis. Find out more about it in the following interview!

Can you tell me more about your academic background and professional path?

I graduated in French and Spanish but I always made sure during my time at university that I incorporated courses focusing on cinema and filmmaking. After university, I did internships with independent production companies for five or six months, which allowed me to try different arenas of work within the cinema industry. I also built up my skills, my portfolio, and just my general knowledge of the industry. Now, I am considering an MA in film schools for film studies.

Was your decision to make a career in cinema a difficult one? Was it natural for you or were you drawn back by the competitiveness of the milieu?

It was natural in the sense that I chose it purely out of passion. I realized that at the end of the day, nothing makes me more enthusiastic than the perspective of creating films. And I think it is important to see it as a passion more than a career. It can become so corrupt if you do it for no other reason than the money. But I do realize that you can’t start right at the top, you need rejections to succeed and it requires a lot of discipline. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and I think it’s important that you see every position. People are not going to invest in your talent if they don’t see you as capable of doing different things. You have to persist and persist, but in the end it all comes down to “I do this because it is my passion”.

What is it exactly that you want to show in your films?

I realized over the years that I love writing about social realism and things that we can identify with. When it comes to me, I like watching films because I take a lot of meaning from them.  I identify with films that take on society, that have to do with family, politics, ageing or relationships. I really think that getting as close to reality as possible is essential in filmmaking.

Can you tell me more about Ángel Viajera?

It is an eight-minute film about a young girl who has a turbulent relationship with her mother. As she is walking in a park, the daughter encounters a man in his mid-thirties who is going through an emotional crisis. Gradually the man recognizes the wisdom of the young girl and he opens up to her. At the same time, he becomes the father figure that she never had. I wanted to show that wisdom doesn’t depend necessarily on age but on life experience, and that connecting with someone can bring chemistry and identification.

How long did it take to produce? How many people were involved? What were the challenges?

I had the idea back at the end of April and I wrote the script, knowing that I was going to get a break from work during which I could make the film. It was tricky! We had to do it in a week-end because the cast were working or studying. So we originally planned to shoot the film over the course of one weekend but due to some technical issues, we overran a few days. Luckily we shot it in six days or so. The main challenges were the lighting and the temperature (34°C in Valencia,). I was also concerned with the fact that the young girl is only 9 years old, so I didn’t want to overwork her. I’d like to praise her for her hard work, I am really proud of her and of all the actors! All of them are Spanish, I met the main actor, José, when I went on an exchange to Valencia, and the little girl is his niece. Even though they are not related in the film, I think that it is important that they are family because it means that they were comfortable acting together. It was a very intimate project, for example I had friends collaborating to help me out with technical and equipment challenges. It was more of an experimental project to see how far I could go with minimal equipment in a foreign country. I wanted to focus more on the creative process than the commercial process.

Why did you choose to set it in Spain?

I think it is because the story is quite an intimate, sweet, nurtured, warm one. It’s a nestled story, a cute, romantic one and I thought that the openness of the culture and of the people in Spain was perfectly adapted. And the weather of course!  London is too much of an urban, metropolitan, crowded place, it’s too big, too grand to capture the intimacy of their relationship. And also, very importantly, Spain is the natural habitat of my actors and I wanted them to feel comfortable.

Finally, a difficult question: if you were to describe your work in one word, what would it be?

That’s tricky! I would probably go for existential impetus. I focus on the idea that life has its ups and downs. It reminds me of the film Gravity, which is all about existentialism: when the characters are about to die, they find the strength to try to survive. They can’t give up because there are people waiting for them and needing them. I think existentialist ideas are always going to be beyond my mind and existentialism is very central to my work.

DANIEL NICKSON: FILMMAKER

In the exotic world of cinema, some like to create another world that couldn’t be more remote from what we humans are familiar with. Randomly speaking, this can be a world where it is fine for parents to transform into pigs and for little girls to work for faceless divinities that eat their employees to calm their nerves – yes, the trauma caused by Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on eight year-old me WAS great. Others, like Daniel Nickson, prefer to focus on the everyday. In Foxes in the Underground , his very impressive graduation film for the University of Westminster, he depicts the coming together of entirely different men to save their jobs at a British news broadcasting station. With this short film, Nickson surpassed academic expectations and reached international recognition as he was nominated for a number of foreign festivals like the Cannes Court Métrage or the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Today, Nickson is studying in Columbia University Film School but his life in the Big Apple does not keep him from staying true to his mother-country. He was born in Manchester, studied in Westminster and now claims that he is working from both New York and from London. Focusing on masculinity and ordinary episodes from the everyday lives of the British people is central to his work. He is successful in rendering his stories touching without over-dramatizing them. From Shadowboxer, the story of a father pressuring his son into being a boxer, toThe File, which portrays the absolute alienation of an employee because of his bureaucratic job, Daniel Nickson impresses by his technical skills and by the maturity of the themes he develops. There is almost a James Joycan spirit to his short films as they highlight the tragedy of the protagonists’ lives like Joyce did with his Dubliners. Fine with me, as long as Nickson doesn’t start getting his inspiration from Ulysses.

His next project, Ferry, is a short film about migration and trafficking in Eastern Europe, that he is making in collaboration with Reka Posta and that should be released by May 2014. It focuses on how car trafficking is changing the lives of migrants in Hungary, and was funded entirely by donations. To find out more about this project or to donate, you can visit the project’s fiscal sponsor’s website. To be kept updated of Daniel Nickson’s latest news, you can also visit Brainwash , a cultural blog that he co-directs and that organizes film events every month. Or follow him on Twitter. Or visit his official website. Your call!

Jim Demuth

Music videos can be a great place to discover emerging film talent. My attention was recently grabbed by British band Django Django’s new music video for their latest single ‘WOR’.

The video is directed by Jim Demuth and takes the form of a mini documentary. The subject of the film are an extraordinary group of Indian men, who make a living driving motorbikes and cars around a vertical, cylindrical wall – the ‘Well of Death’. This makes for inspiring footage, but it is not just the interesting subject matter that causes the video to stand out. The visuals are entrancing. Demuth combines extreme close-ups and handheld camera shots, some taken from inside the sideways vehicles, to the effect that the viewer is subsumed in the action. The daredevil men, and the fairground patrons, stare straight down the camera lens in a confrontational and contemplative engagement with the viewer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojVsXB12zC8

Jim Demuth’s other work includes short film ‘Aokigahara Suicide Forest’, a morbid yet fascinating look at Japan’s most popular suicide spot at the foot of Mount Fuji. Geologist Azusa Hayano, who walks through the forest regularly, describes the cultural relevance of the forest and, chillingly, looks for signs of recent deaths. The film shares the harsh white lighting of the ‘WOR’ music video, and the same handheld camera-work.

Short video ‘Pricasso’ makes for more light hearted viewing, if an Australian man using his penis to paint sounds like your kind of thing. Both videos can be found at the link below. Demuth’s films have so far proven themselves to be constantly concerned with intriguing subject matter and are filmed in a thoughtful yet refreshingly liberated style.

http://vimeo.com/jimdemuth

Dwyle Flonk Film

With a name as abstract as theirs, it comes as no surprise that the two man band behind ‘Dwyle Flonk Film’ embrace the weirdness on a personal, as well as professional, level. We caught up with Jack and Lysander to discuss their magical world.

The two met at Downside School in Somerset, where they bonded over many things, not least of which ‘being dark-haired’. Warp Films and Warp Records, as well as Ninja Tune artists, also figured in their friendship, and later became key players in the creative inspiration behind Dwyle Flonk. It really came about, Jack says, from ‘finding the darkest in humanity funny’. He explains that ‘Dwyle Flonking is an old English game where the aim is to hit a man with a beer soaked rag. DFF does that but with film, in some way’.

This celebration of the absurd is at the heart of the Dwyle Flonk ethos; each film plays upon the uncanny and the bizarre, all with a good added dose of humour. They largely work in shorts that ‘experiment with stereotypes through film, and the subversion of normal film tropes’, and are quick to point out that ‘there is a lightness of touch in our work, though what we deal with is dark’. The films are testament to this, and the rather glib sentiment that DF is ‘whimsical about death, decay, sexual perversion, and creepiness’ probably most straightforwardly sums them up.

Both have impressive and lengthy creative resumes; Jack has worked extensively in film and theatre in Cheltenham, Weston-Super-Mare, Bristol and Edinburgh, career pinnacles being ‘an explicit and violent version’ of Huis Clos by Jean-Paul Sartre, directing a sell-out revival of Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Beautiful Thing’, and acting for Warner Bros TV. He currently studies TV, Theatre and Film at the University of Bristol. Lysander began by staging a school producation of Jam by Chris Morris, a production that still haunts the vacuous halls of my own subconscious. His education is a mixed bag, having worked in photography, to running a pub, to the antiques trade; a CV with a ‘breadth of experience that helps inform a lot of our work’. The both have before worked with BBC Drama, and can be seen in a new adaptation of The Lady Vanishes which aired on 17 March 2013.

Their rise to dizzying heights has commenced, and there are many projects currently on the go at DF, including a collaborative work with photographers and composers on the theme of ‘the weird’; curating the South West’s newest short film festival – Jump Cut Film Festival, in collaboration with various other media groups, in May 2013; as well as several films, including Gin. Two Fingers. and a short film about the troubles of being a statue performer.

Currently based in Bristol, they can be contacted at dwyleflonk@gmail.com.

Info on Jump Cut Film Festival can be found here: www.jumpcutfestival.co.uk

Film: The Goodparent, entry into Virgin Media Shorts 2012.