Tag Archives: directing

Film networking events: where to booze and schmooze

5 Jul

Image

The first monthly gathering of the London Film Entrepreneurs club, at the Pure bar in Camden last night (above), was a great success. As a quick for-instance, I chatted to Dave Sohanpal, a highly experienced sound guy who works mostly in commercials, but still regrets turning down From London to Brighton; to Danish Wakeel, a designer/model who exhibits at London Fashion Week, and whose film The Island premieres next week; and to Andy Williams, an ex-exec with the commendably ambitious aim of making an Oscar-winning short within the year.

I mention specifics only to demonstrate that, at these things, you never know who you’re going to meet: actors, composers, animators, producers, writers, editors, lighting technicians. Film is a collaborative medium. The more potential collaborators you have, the better.

So don’t be shy. If you are in the film business, or want to be, your first port of call should be www.shootingpeople.org, a virtual film community of 38,000 members worldwide which releases daily newsletters with film discussion and pleas for help: it’s through this that I got to collaborate with director Tony Errico on the short film Colonel Badd, which we took to Cannes this May. They also hold regular “real-world” pub drinks, in London and elsewhere.

Euroscript, Soho Screenwriters and Raindance all hold seminars and workshops as well as occasional get-togethers; I’ve also enjoyed People In Media’s networking events, and there’s a big one coming up on the 16th; as for the London Film Entrepreneurs, join the club on Facebook here. Finally, I heartily recommend the unstoppable whirlwind of enthusiasm and practical advice that is Chris Jones and his Guerilla Film network. His inspirational weekend Masterclass took place in June, but there are many more one-off events to come.

The British sometimes look down on networking as a shallow American invention. If so, think of it, instead, as just meeting up for a pint or three with a bunch of people who all love movies. It’s easy to get chatting: it’s one place you know that everyone’s there to meet new people. A simple “So what do you do?”, like the Queen, will suffice as a conversation-starter. Make sure you take business cards, natch, and write a memory-jogging note on the ones you get in return – otherwise next morning you will find yourself leafing blearily through a sheaf of cards wondering who the hell each belongs to.

So, see you there! Mine’s an ice-cold Stella.

Steven Soderbergh: not shy, but he is retiring

28 Jan
Image

Sex, Lies & Videotape: made when Steven Soderbergh was just 26 —
the same age I was when I put it on Time Out’s cover

Steven Soderbergh has just confirmed his retirement from directing, having celebrated his 50th birthday. In early 2011 he denied the rumours, blaming them on a drunken conversation with Matt Damon and calling him “about as discreet as a 14-year-old girl”. Then that summer he semi-confirmed them, calling it a sabbatical. Now, in a forthcoming interview with the New York Times (http://bit.ly/WvVXay), he says he is putting down the camera for good, and picking up a paintbrush instead.

“The tyranny of narrative is beginning to frustrate me,” he explains. “Or at least narrative as we’re currently defining it.”

I feel proprietorial about Soderbergh. Sex, Lies & Videotape, made when Soderbergh was just 26, was I think the first Time Out cover I ever did. I too was just 26, and filling in while the Editor was away (Simon Garfield it was, now a prominent author of non-fiction books). It was bold to put an unknown, low-budget indie on the cover, in the days before indie films were a powerful force (Sex, Lies… was instrumental in making them so), but we all loved the film.

To be honest, it helped when the film company unearthed some Greg Gorman pics of Laura San Giacomo lounging on a bed in black leather boots (above). The title helped, too. “Sex” sells, of course. With “Lies”, you’ve got your conflict. “Videotape”, well, how better to win over the home rental market once the theatrical release is over? There’s a lesson there still for aspirant film-makers. A great title is worth millions in marketing.

That early commercial nous explains, in hindsight, how this indie auteur can have forged a parallel career as one of Hollywood’s most successful mainstream directors, balancing the likes of Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven and Magic Mike with Schizopolis or The Girlfriend Experience – and, in Traffic, fusing the two worlds. Not all his films are brilliant, but they are never dull.

He’s clearly a funny guy, too. Take this from the aforementioned New York Times interview, on his frequent collaborator George Clooney: “He inspires people. He listens. He’s generous. He’s loyal. He’s funny, which is crucial. He solves problems better than anyone I know. That’s why people keep telling him to run for office, but he’s too smart for that. If there were 500 of him, you could take over an entire country—but of course three weeks later you’d lose it again because of all the parties.”

The film world will be the poorer for his departure.

Soderbergh’s final film, Side Effects, opens in the UK on March 15

Get the inside track on film: click the ‘Follow’ button.