May 28, 2013


I am a member of a web forum called Shooting People which is a platform designed for independent filmmakers to connect with each other.

Someone posted a question on a noticeboard which was essentially:

Why do independent filmmakers bother making low budget films?  Why do 'shooting people' aim for the stars?

I am currently producing a low budget independent film so I felt compelled to answer this question:

When approaching any task is it not best to aim as high as possible within the resources available?

Over the last decade the hardware for digital filmmakers has become cheaper and is now within our financial reach.  The human resources are also available; the industry is so competitive that people are willing to use thier personal time to gain experience in the field to help them gain a professional foothold.

It also must be understood that filmmaking is an art form - filmmaking is a medium for personal expression and people do not produce art purely for commercial purposes.

The internet has also given independent filmmakers a free platform for distributing thier films.  We are no longer limited to the old centrally controlled exhibition methods.

The risks in making low-budget filmmaking are very low.  It is possible to make a film with relatively low financial commitment and we are guaranteed free exhibition methods on the internet. The most essential resource is the time required to make a film - this resource is also free and available to many people who are motivated to express themselves through thier chosen medium.

December 17, 2012


Michael Haneke (2012)

'Pragma is the mature love that develops over a long period of time between long-term couples and involves actively practising goodwill, commitment, compromise and understanding.'


Benh Zeitlin (2012)

Hope is imagination.


James Ivory (1993)

To serve is to be implicit.  

To respect is not to question.  

A stiff upper lip for what apathy cares.

At all costs ignore your feelings.

Life will pass you by.

October 12, 2012


Leos Carax (2012)

We are animals with large brains and big imaginations so we have created an overstimulating environment for ourselves which confuses our identities.  We have come to use technology to deliver and express these contradicting personalities; travelling through space in our isolated bubbles often crashing into each other.  Two separate atoms colliding; occasionally compounding, sometimes exploding but usually just bouncing off in separate directions.  

The old technology will be replaced with new - but the evolution of our genes cannot be moved on so quickly and we are stuck with what we have.  We trundle through life playing our different roles but ultimately the goal is to remove the masks at the end of the day?

In the end we are all just animals.

August 26, 2012


David Lean (1957).

'What have I done?'

Single mindedness is madness?

'Madness! ...Madness!'

'The conduct of each of the two enemies was superficially dissimilar' - Pierre Boulle

The enemy within.

August 14, 2011


Powell and Pressburger (1948).
'What do you want from life?  To live?'

'To dance.'

But what if that is the very thing that will kill you?

The red shoes represent what we search for beyond compassion and love from others: faith.  Art is 'religion'.  

August 1, 2011


Pictures are not drawn much darker than this.  A powerful portrait of what happens if man willingly accepts the worst human afflictions;  the habits of loneliness and greed are isolated in The Pawnbroker (1964). Sidney Lumet directs a powerful characterisation of a jewish businessman in down-and-out post-war Harlem.

Rod Steiger unflinchingly portrays a man who's hope has been been stolen by experience of the Second World War - many suggest he was robbed of the Best Actor Oscar he was nominated for.  Quincy Jones' brooding jazz score does not allow the tension to dissipate whilst striking photography is appropriately claustrophobic and high contrast.

The characters relationships are illustrated by the distance between them - each has built an island in isolation from the other, and only when it is too late does our protagonist realise the implications of such determined self interest.  A chilling warning to anyone.

The film suggests there is no innocence or sentimentality associated with loss.  Bleak but beautifully effective - an antidote to light relief.

The Pawnbroker is based on a book by Edward Lewis Wallant.  

Other must see films directed by Sidney Lumet are 12 Angry MenFail-Safe, & Network...

July 31, 2011


As a second generation viewer of Gilda (1946) you might be more familiar with Rita Hayworth's flick from the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994).  Inmates Red and Andy get some jailhouse relief:

watch here.

Stephen King's original short story about prison escapism is actually called 'Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption'.

Shawshank might be in many a 'top 10' list but I could not more promptly recommend a viewing of Gilda.  This sharp and dark film noir, comic whilst tragic, has more twists than Rita's bob.  It has love, murder, nazis, gambling, the hardest and fastest dialogue since... the Nazis, and did I mention Rita Hayworth?

'There is not a single pleasant character in this rather grim and sordid picture... it leaves such an unwholesome taste in the mouth.'
Monthly film Bulletin, April 1946.

Now showing at the National Film Theatre.
BFI link

February 2, 2011


How about the ability to fly?  Have limitless strength and stamina?  Cling to any surface?  Or walk vertically up the side of a building whilst appearing to be entirely horizontal?

Super-human desire is often played out in fantasy movies, very commonly by comic book mutants:  Superman, Spiderman, Batman…  Okay, Batman is not technically a mutant but if you can claim to be an expert in 127 different martial arts, be the worlds best scientist, tactician, detective, and master of disguise then you are not exactly human either. 

One might note that super mutant women are less prolific on the big screen, one can only assume feminine desires go further than just physical powers?

Gender arguments aside, the point is that we often see our physical boundaries as flaws.  By using super powers a character may imagine they can avoid human afflictions - problem solved!  But in fact the subtext often turns out that super powers turn out to be the flaws themselves.  Superman, Spiderman, and Batman alike cannot reveal their mutant identities because they want to be accepted in their communities as humans.  Ultimately they end up using their superior abilities in order to maintain human qualities. 

Physical boundaries are the very things that offer us solace in the end.  There is only so much that can be physically achieved meaning we can allow ourselves realistic expectations.

So rightly Wings of Desire (1987 - Wim Wenders) is a story of an angel - a super-being -  embarking upon a journey to become part of the far more satisfying human race.  It rejects the powers of invisibility, mind reading, and immortality for the simple pleasures of the human senses.  One might call it 'angel suicide'.  If that is not feel good then - heavens above! - I don’t know what is.  One-upmanship for the non believers perhaps.  An angel having had enough of eternal knowledge throws it all away to taste some of the good stuff down here amongst us humble folk.

The beautifully photographed picture draws much further than this.  The film includes a partial biography of a city that has at times required some angels.  The landscape of pre-unified Berlin offers a characterful and relevant back drop.  The search for pleasure in a bleak landscape that on the surface offers little hope - to find light within the darkness.  Wenders uses a provocative mixture of colour and colourless film to symbolise the journey between the sacred and profane worlds, but he also understands that building a wall between these two parallels is not just black and white. 

The sacred can be found within our physical reality.  The previously spiritual being finds what he is looking for in the human form.  The love of another human.

So perhaps the characters physical metamorphosis just represents the inner change - a lost soul finding love. 

Inner change is the route to fulfilment and our physical inabilities enable our thoughts and imaginations to pursue a higher plain of being where there are no limitations.

Wings of Desire was inspired by the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.  The film inspired a less than desirable Hollywood re-make: City of Angels (1998 – Nicolas Cage & Meg Ryan).