Director’s Take

A Behind-the-Lens Look at Independent Filmmaking

All of us here at Fimzie are passionate about movies! From independent masterpieces to blockbuster mega films, we believe that every movie deserves an audience. We know and respect the amount of blood, sweat, and tears film crews go through to keep us entertained. Every movie has a story, both on and off the screen and today we have the unique opportunity to share these stories from the perspective of the filmmakers themselves. 

We asked filmmakers Michele Olivieri, Harvey Puttock, and James Mansell to give us their director’s take on movie making. Specifically, what were their inspirations, some funny or interesting things that happened while shooting, and their opinions on where the Indie film scene is headed? So, come and join us as we go behind the lens with some of Filmzie’s talented independent filmmakers!

Michele Olivieri 

Director of The Game Of The Clock

What inspired you to make your film (the one on Filmzie or films in general)?

It was 2016 and I was an intern at a production company here in London but I wanted to start directing my own films. I was a fan of David F. Sandberg and admired the success he had with Lights Out, a very lean short film which he made on a zero budget and which became viral and, eventually, a Hollywood feature film that kickstarted his career. I wanted something similar for myself, so I sat at the table brainstorming ideas for a cheap but great horror short film. The Game of the Clock came as a result. 

What is a funny or interesting thing that happened while shooting your film?

The movie suffered an unbelievable amount of trouble but surprisingly not during production. The Game of the Clock failed twice during prep and was about to fail again in post. A rather intricate story that I will spare you. But it did get quite intense, to the point where I started referring to this film as “the cursed project”. I also started believing this film was a test from the universe, like “do you really want to be a filmmaker? Prove it”. I used to think “if I manage to make this movie, then I can make any movie”.

How do you see the indie film scene today? Is it thriving or vanishing?

People usually say making films has never been so easy, which is true. What has become increasingly difficult is making it as a filmmaker. The advancement in technology has indeed made the craft more accessible, but because more people approach filmmaking, the competition has become harsher and harsher. Does it mean the industry is thriving? Points of view.

I think the pandemic is going to reshape our industry for the years to come. A lower budget film has more chances of recouping the cost of production even with half-full theatres (which have to comply with restrictions). An indie feature may also find less competition on the markets since the big-budget films are being pushed back since they would suffer too great a loss if released. 

Harvey Puttock

Director of The Many Faces of Beth Jones

What inspired you to make your film (the one on Filmzie or films in general)?
A love of comedy films and television is what inspired me to make The Many Faces of Beth Jones. I know a few actors who are frustrated with the offers they’re given by their agent which is one of the first things that sparked this idea. As well as this, in 2017 both myself and my then colleague Lexy Anderson were pretty obsessed with Orphan Black and the range that Tatiana Maslany had. In that show, she played such a variety of characters that we jokingly started to say she could play anything. We began a list of roles that we thought she could do next, starting with realistic things and getting more and more obscure as the day went on.

The ideas we came up with combined with my want to do a comedy short about an actor and their agent to make the film.

What is a funny or interesting thing that happened while shooting your film?

To set dress the Agent’s office we printed off a bunch of royalty-free actors’ headshots. As the day went on we began developing backstories for the actors as we set up shots. We took a shine to one headshot, in particular, a woman we named ‘Judith’, deciding that she had grandchildren in Ibiza and had spent many decades trying to make it as an actor. We even went as far as to write an outline of a mockumentary where our film crew set out to find ‘Judith’ and learn who she truly was. Unfortunately, this film hasn’t seen the light of day… yet.

How do you see the indie film scene today? Is it thriving or vanishing?

I think Indie Film will always be important. We’re in such a politically uncertain time, and it’s times like this that an independent voice will be most important. I think that some of the most important Independent Film voices we’ve had in years are going to develop out of the movements happening today.

James Mansell

Director of NightmARes, Ruptured, and The Man in the Living Room

What inspired you to make your film (the one on Filmzie or films in general)?

Of the three short films on Filmzie – each were inspired by very different things. For NightmARes, I wrote this during the period when the Pokemon Go craze went huge and everyone was running around outside holding their phones in the air. At the same time, I saw an augmented horror game using the same technology and it really went from there. The idea that whatever is augmenting your reality is also there when the device isn’t pointing at it is great and I had a lot of fun running with that idea. 

Ruptured came from the bizarre ritual of accepting anything that is free. The drink stands outside train stations always amazed me because there’s absolutely no way of knowing what you’re drinking, or where it’s from. I went from that to technology and landed on our blind acceptance of technology. 

For The Man in the Living Room, I wanted to do a contained story that wasn’t a proof of concept for something bigger. A short film about the characters and their story. It came from my love of Inside No. 9 and their very weird stories in normal and relatable locations. I’ve always loved the uncanny so I wrote a story that was odd and a little strange – something that leaves an air of mystery. 

What is a funny or interesting thing that happened while shooting your film?

While shooting Ruptured, there was a scene where we shot from an iPhone as Kate Soulsby is using it. She’s attacking the phone violently with her fists, which gave us a great shot. I attached a fisheye lens onto the phone to give me a slightly more uncomfortable perspective – but as she hit the phone, the lens kept flying off. It gave us some very chaotic footage which made it into the film – I’m always hoping for some serendipity when shooting!  

How do you see the indie film scene today? Is it thriving or vanishing?

The indie scene is thriving at the moment. There’s a lot of very talented filmmakers creating outstanding work which is paving the way for younger filmmakers. Horror has always allowed first-time directors to create stark and raw films that unrelentingly grab the audience’s attention. The last few years have provided us with a host of brilliant films from new voices.

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