So November was a busy month for me and for Waxwing. Waxwing was screened at the Beijing Film Academy International Film Festival, was selected for the London Short Film Festival in January 2013 and has been selected to feature as one of five finalists in the London Film Review’s web shorts film festival that begins tomorrow. Voting begins on their website on Monday 19th November and the festival runs for one week so visit http://www.thelondonfilmreview.co.uk/ and enjoy the films and cast your vote.
Waxwing has found a nest, at the British Council, in the branches of its ‘shorts support scheme’. It’s excellent news for the film and me and all who worked on it and I hope the film festival commissioners who will view it at the British Council screenings will be moved to nurture and help Waxwing fledge. Metaphor stretched quite enough I think. I’d like to say thanks to The British Council for believing in the film and also to Waxwing’s agent Rebekah Smith at Metfilm, my ‘film festival doctor’ for working so hard on the film’s behalf.
Rather sad to say good bye to Jed Mercurio’s absolutely terrific Line Of Duty on BBC2 tonight. Quite the most sophisticated, ‘real-feeling’, complex, emotionally truthful and chillingly credible British television ‘policier’ I have seen in a long while. Barely a missed step or a wrong-note across four-hours of highly demanding television screenwriting. The cast were (excuse the pun) uniformly outstanding. Lennie James, save for when he is required to run in wide shot (he has more than enough else on offer), is an extraordinary talent, never mannered, passionate, open and honest with hefty but elegantly carried emotional ballast. Vicky McLure and Martin Compston, fairly new faces to our screens but fast proving their talent for bewildering authenticity,emotional range and character versatility, were already huge favourites of mine. They shone in their roles as good coppers horribly compromised by garden variety human weakness, professional function and institution. In terms of a directors approach to photographing a drama, the last episode shone brightest, achieving a cunning conflation of fluency and jaggedness that complemented the story and themes perfectly and had me sighing in admiration and envy on my sofa. I must find someone who can tell me how to build what seem camera set-ups of bewildering fragility and feel confident that you have the story in the can at wrap. A new name to me (I am so slow off the mark) Ruairi O’Brien photographed all with moody, magical grounded panache. Quite brilliant.
I have been urged by a friend to view the trailer for the latest film from the USA’s second greatest living film maker, and it didn’t disappoint. The Master is such a tantalising proposition, PT Anderson is a master story-teller and he understands and seems to thrill in the magical potential of cinema storytelling like no other for my money. The world of the story too has me alive with anticipation. I have been trying to find a cinematic story about Cults and New Religions for years and have now been beaten to it twice in as many years.Bother! And what a fabulous cast too. I for one can barely wait.
WAXWING is the story of an extraordinary day in a young birdwatcher’s life that is charged with both magic and fear. Set in the curious beauty of the wilderness that exists on the boundary of city and country and on the cusp of winter and spring, it explores the awkward negotiations that children navigate between themselves and the adults that surround them.
A young birdwatcher learns that rare and beautiful Waxwings have arrived in his scruffy suburban neighbourhood and his busy mother encourages him to venture from the safety of home to find them. Thrilled and nervous in his new independence he sets out on his quest where he soon makes a connection with another exotic stranger, an older birdwatcher. It’s an encounter that begins pleasurable and profound but becomes unsettling and complex.
In a story told through unsettling atmospheric images, the hypnotic and evocative sounds of nature, a curious and compelling score and very little dialogue, Waxwing is a mesmerising journey into childhood with all its ambition, mystery, wonder and fear.
Waxwing has been accepted onto the British Council’s Shorts Support Scheme.
In this film, commissioned by Jeremy Howe and Hilary Salmon as part of a BBC 2 season of shorts for ‘emerging talent’ called ‘Eight Ways To Leave Your Lover’, I was moved, by events in my own life, to make a film about the beautiful and brutal burdens of true love. I don’t want to give too much away but I can say it is, without conceit, very powerful indeed. Auto Da Fe is another film with little dialogue and stars Owen Teale and Kate Byers, both brilliant, and was co– written by myself and Hugh Costello. It was produced by Camilla Bray through APT Films. The DOP was Denzil Armour Brown, a startling new talent from the world of pop promos, casting was by Amanda Taback and it was designed by James Hendy. The ‘fragment’ of original music was beautifully composed and played by Chris Elliott.
It’s now interesting rather than disappointing to me that despite it being much admired (it was Highly Commended by Turner Classic Shorts), it got into competition at only a handful of international film festivals. I believe the heft of the film’s theme, the way the story unfolds, and some of the choices I made in the telling of that story, made it very uncomfortable viewing indeed and so hard to place in any programme of short films.
A short film commissioned by Jeremy Howe at the BBC as part of the now long defunct but marvellous scheme for new film-makers, 10x10. It’s set in Dublin and is best described as a story about the inescapable power of the past. I love the film despite its ‘vintage’ and my evident naïvete as a director. The Rope Trick stars Phelim Drew, Terry Byrne and Michael Glenn Murphy and was written by my great friend Hugh Costello. Angus Hudson was the DOP, and he did a lovely job, and it was designed by the venerable (and at that time in my career rather intimidating) Roger Murray Leach. The beautiful original music was composed by Chris Elliott, the casting by Hubbard’s and it was produced by Sarah Lawson who, sadly, is no longer with us.