My name is Neil Parmar and I’m a filmmaker based in the West Midlands. I run an indie film production company called Red Mosquito Films. Since the birth of Red Mosquito I have produced a short variety of projects where I have either written/directed/shot/edited or done all the aforementioned.
Film has always been there for me. My first memory I have of watching a film, or at least being moved by a film is Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 – Spielberg, S) during one Christmas in the very early 90’s. Much later on I pinpoint the start of my interest/obsession with the medium down to three films, all of which I watched during the same time; Amelie (2001 – Jeunet, J), La Haine (Kassovitz, M – 1995) & City of God (2002 – Meirelles, F). All three films opened my eyes into what film can be in terms of storytelling and visual aesthetics. All three of the films were of a foreign language therefore they are responsible for me having a big interest for world cinema. As the years have gone by, I have been influenced by countless films and filmmakers – too many to mention!
Like aforementioned, way too many to name. It’s hard to comment on just new filmmakers because I’m still getting through countless filmographies from all kinds of cinema. Inspired by over the years, well I’m influenced from the movie brats of the 70’s – Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma as much as I am influenced by the titans of world cinema – Haneke, Ray, Bergman, Kurosawa. I guess it was British directors like Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Shane Meadows (the latter in particular) that really made me feel like the most engrossing stories or studies of the human condition can be about the people that you see everyday. Every one has a story I guess and that will always be exciting and inspiring to me.
Very important, but more important than the writing process is that initial idea in my opinion. I have a ton of ideas for short films but every so often I get an idea that I want to just run with. Those kinds of ideas the writing process is very natural. For the first time very recently I had an idea that I really believe will work as a short film and rather than myself taking the helm at the writing desk, I asked Nick John Whittle (writer of ‘Aftershow Triptych’ & upcoming Red Mosquito project ‘Countenance’) to write it. This was the right move and I’m very happy with the initial script.
Honestly, as little as possible. Obviously that ranges on the complexity of the project or how awkward the locations are or the size of the cast. I’m not a big fan of it but I totally understand its importance. I’m probably not a big fan of it because it’s the most frustrating part. Sourcing locations I find can be a nightmare especially in indie filmmaking when there is little or no budget. It’s a lot of favours and asking around.
I like to be flexible but I think you have to be in indie/zero-budget filmmaking. Everything to a degree is a compromise, therefore you have to sometimes be compromising in your direction. That’s not to say you should dilute your creativity, just that you should adapt a mindset to work with the best of what you have got.
It depends on the project. Right now, I’m being very collaborative and I’m thoroughly enjoying it as well as seeing its benefits. If you can find someone or some folk who each have a unique skillset or experience to bring to the table and it works, then you’ve hit the jackpot. Some projects however don’t need much collaboration. ‘A Reasonable Man’ was very low-key in terms of personnel; there literally were just two actors and myself. And that worked because it was that type of project. Where as ‘Aftershow Triptych’ was a collaborative effort because it needed to be. Sometimes collaboration can be a bad thing. There can be a ‘too many cooks’ type scenario on set or if you don’t gel with the people you are working with, then filmmaking can become a very negative experience. Anyone who has studied film production at college or university can tell you that!
Yes, absolutely. I think I shoot like an editor (if that makes sense) because I’m always thinking about how I’m going to make my life as easy as possible in editing. As technology gets better, many new filmmakers will think that everything can be saved in editing. This is not true and probably never will be. Be anal during production and if this means shooting takes over and over again to make sure you have the best take, then let it be. It will always be hard to plan re-shoots in indie film so filmmakers need to be particulate and obsessive to get it right on the day.
Once you’ve given them the character, it is the actor’s character. I like to let them take over then. If that means adding or subtracting lines, adding a character gesture or whatever, then I will usually go with it. One of my favourite elements of filmmaking is seeing an actor take a character you have written and bring them to life. It’s a feeling that never gets old.
Yes; remakes and modern horror. I understand that cinema can make a ridiculous amount of income and much of the time, rightfully so. Even if it’s something I’m not particularly a fan of, at least skill and creativity have been utilised. I really dislike cash cows like countless horror sequels where cinema has truly become a product and the studios know they can make a fortune doing so. As a fan of world cinema, it irritates me when they remake these films for a western audience and then do a poor job of it. Baffles me!
The new film by Red Mosquito called “Countenance” can be found here.
Shane Sweeney is an up-and-coming actor/film-maker with experience in feature film and theatre. In 2016 Shane makes his directorial debut with One Thing Left To Do, a film he also wrote and produced.
I grew up being schooled by my mother on stars of the silver screen like James Cagney, Gene Kelly, Clark Gable and Kirk Douglas. In my teens, I found Leonardo DiCaprios range incredibly inspiring. His work in This Boys Life had a profound effect on me. Andy Garcia too. His eyes told the characters story and that really spoke to me. This might split the room, but Tom Cruise also. I believed every single word he said. And still do. Some actors I would watch sitting on a box for two hours and be enthralled the entire time.
I’m not sure if this qualifies as advice, but its an ethos I take on to my set. Be humble and kind. I don’t allow for any kind of diva outbursts, nor do I wish to be around something so toxic. I bear this in mind when I’m casting, or even writing. If I’m going to spend 20 hours a day, 6 days a week for 3 weeks with someone, I need to like that person.
The only way my approach has changed over time is that I now spend longer discovering the mind of the character. When someone wants to be an actor, they do all they can to prepare lines, how to say a word, where the emphasis is on a certain syllable, etc. But over time you realise those things come naturally if you lay the foundation and discover the character. I spend a lot of time trying to make a person unique, the way he smiles, eats, talks, walks, carries himself, etc.
In no way whatsoever, a film lives and breathes with the script, and then the execution of the script. A budget should never come in to it. As soon as you start considering budget, you sacrifice creativity.
Zero-budget films have a great sense of community. Every single person on that set is there because of a passion. And with passion, you get a connection that can be absent on bigger sets. There’s no denying that wed all like our own trailer, that goes without saying. And its that sense of community that is so euphoric and addictive and, ultimately, makes an actor better I believe.
Actors need compliments and reassurance. Treat them like that, and you will get the best out of them.
I will absolutely get involved in more. Big budget films are the make-up of the film world, but zero budget films are the frame.
Its certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There is no down time. You’re up all night thinking about shots, trying to be prepared for the next day. And when you’re on set, for the most part, you have your directors hat on. My main concern was that I would neglect the one for the other. Its difficult trying to get into character when you are directing other actors, looking at light, watching the playback and doing it all on a couple of hours sleep. And, as was the case with this film, in a different country, with a limited amount of days. Its a juggling act. I haven’t slept well for 3 years. Luckily I have a very patient wife.
I believe the celebrity part of being an actor is a necessity. It furthers your career. Is it important, yes. Is it important to me, no. Its a catch 22 situation.
The trailer to Shane’s directorial debut can be found here.