Definition January 2023 - Web


SELF-MADE WINNERS Another self-funded feature film from FMW Films, The Man You’re Not picked up a raft of awards and nominations on the independent film festival circuit

Admittedly, not many people have an ex-Beatle ready to write them a cheque for six or seven figures, but there are some companies that have become so frustrated with playing the waiting game that they’ve found a way to get their project made. It’s still beneficial to have contacts in the industry, though. James Wren, co-founder of FMW Films, came from a theatre background but wanted to start making films. “It shows the naivety in itself that we chose to make a feature film,” Wren says. “How hard can it be? Very, apparently. We had a camera and microphone and were doing a show anyway at Edinburgh in 2008, so we decided to make a film called Peacock Season , which is about somebody taking a show to the festival by mistake.” It helped that Wren and his colleagues are friends with comedians Reece Shearsmith and Adam Hills – both of whom played roles as FMW did some guerrilla filming. “We made it for about £50,” Wren says. “I run a fringe theatre in London anyway, so we sorted out screening venues when we got back to London. It took a while to make, but I think it was the creativity and that we had the equipment, it meant we could do it.” At the first screening of Peacock Season , which was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe the year after it had been shot, FMW had to supply wristbands so the venue knew who was on the guest list. “The wristbands cost more than the film,” Wren asserts. Peacock Season got a DVD release via Go Faster Stripe. Another distributor called Rights Booster has since agreed to send it to streamers. With one film under its belt, FMW managed to make another soon after – even if it happened by mistake. “I had a friend who was turning an old, disused Victorian bathhouse into an art centre for children,” Wren says. “He asked if we wanted to film something in it, but we didn’t have a script, finances or anything. We only had six weeks

can afford ourselves,” he says. “At least in this situation we’ll end up with a film, good or bad.” The team had enough money to do six days of filming with a cast of five actors to make The Move . “I knew talented actors I’d worked with in theatre, so we paid them a daily fee and then percentages of the film,” Hobson says. “Jon jumped on the boom – he had to learn it on the job. He’s also a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam, so we paid two students to do continuity editing and sound engineering.” Hobson says due to his team’s inexperience, nobody realised what was being asked of lead actor, Jez Edwards. “He was in every scene, morning till night. He was really put through the wringer – but he was professional and didn’t even flinch,” he adds. “We were so anxious about continuity issues we shot the whole thing in order of script. We had no money for post-production but I’d used Premiere Pro a bit, so I did as much as I could, though I don’t know how to grade. We need to polish it but we’re happy and proud of the edit.” Lovebomb is now making a short film, ‘a taster’, for a feature idea in February 2023, with The Move as a calling card. “If we can make that with nothing, imagine what we could do with a bit of money! No doubt it won’t be that easy, though.” HANDMADE’S TALE Through seeking alternative, non- traditional routes, film and programme making has yielded some incredible results in the past. Imagine if time-travel fantasy Time Bandits , cult classic Withnail and I and irreverent biblical romp Monty Python’s Life of Brian had never been made. That’s probably what would have happened if it wasn’t for production and distribution company Handmade Films. The company, founded by George Harrison and his business manager Denis O’Brien, helped fund a raft of iconic films, projecting the careers of Bob Hoskins, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard E Grant.

HELP YOURSELF Martin Durkin’s (top) controversial films are only part of the reason he struggles for funding. While Paul McNeilly espouses the virtues of buying your own kit, which helped for his recent short The Lightworker (above)

35. JANUARY 2023

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