Author Archives: Phil Slatter

Desert Island Flicks – Episode 1

Inspired by the popular Radio Four show, we take into account film lovers and what they’d need if they ever ended up on an island with only a Beach Ball for company, an ice skate for a tool and an un-opened package they need to deliver.

What eight films would you simply have to play on your waterproof, solar powered blu-ray device?

We’ve given you some rules though to help our castaways shape their choices.

First up is Neil Parmar from Red Mosquito Films…

 

Film 1 – The film you’ve seen more than any other
You’ve watched it countless times, but it never tires and you could watch it many more times and it will still have an effect on you.

NP: I would imagine its Goodfellas (1990) Scorsese, M. Only because I can remember that film so well and can quote a lot of the film, much to the annoyance of anyone else in the room.

goodfellas -Scorsese

Film 2 – The Classic you’ve never seen
We all have classics we’ve meant to watch but haven’t…yet. Which one would be top of your catch up list? Why haven’t you seen it? What would make you put it on?

NP: Casablanca (1942) Curtiz, M.  Never got round to it, plan to watch it one day. I’ve watched ‘Play it Again, Sam’, where Woody Allen plays a film critic obsessed with the film – really liked that.

Film 3 – The film that will definitely give you a lift
It can be sad and depressing when you’re all alone. Which film would you put on that is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

NP: Back to the Future (1985) Zemeckis, R. Seen this 80’s classic countless times. It’s my ultimate feel good film. A bad day is always bettered with a viewing of BTTF.

Film 4 – The so-called masterpiece that deserves a re-visit
Sometimes everyone seems to love a film but it doesn’t work for you. Maybe being on an island will enable you to try and see what everyone else was seeing.

NP: Close Up (1990) Kiarostami, A. I have seen and thoroughly enjoyed ‘Ten’, ‘Taste of Cherry’ and ‘The Wind Will Carry Us’ (the latter I consider a masterpiece); therefore I was very much looking forward to watching Close Up. Something didn’t translate well in with the narrative and style of this film for me to enjoy it. The film being so highly regarded, I think it does deserve a re-watch – maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

Close Up - Kiarostami
Film 5 – The film you wished you’d made
Either as writer, director, actor, editor, D.P. or in any other role, which film do you wish you’d had a hand in and what role do you wish you’d played?

NP: Chungking Express (1994) Wai, Wong Kar.  I adore this film; it has an excellent vibrant energy to it as well as being sombre and philosophical at the same time.  The characters have great arcs and the film has a unique mood and feel that only a great director like Wong Kar Wai can portray. Wish I made this one!




Film 6 – The film that had the biggest effect on you
Which film influenced your life, either personally or professionally, the most?

NP: Amelie (2001) Jeunet, Jean-Pierre. By this point I’d seen some pretty great films but world cinema was an area I had not sought. Watching Amelie floored me; a perfect film that opened up a whole new exciting alternative of cinema for me. World cinema made me fall in love with cinema therefore Amelie was where it all started.

Films 7 & 8 – Wild Cards
Pick any other two films that you’d take along and tell us why

 NP: Apocalypse Now (1979) Coppola, F – Probably my favourite flick of all time. What can I say that hasn’t already been said – it’s a bonfide masterpiece, everything cinema should be. The anniversary Blu-ray box set has a copy of ‘Hearts of Darkness’ bundled in-am I allowed to take that too?

True Romance (1993) – Scott, T – It’s like a fairy tale in a blood drenched, drug filled, gangster world. Fantastic characters mixed in a rollercoaster of emotions. I can’t imagine not watching Clarence and Alabama try to find peace at least once a year for the rest of my life.

The rogue disc – The film you wished you’d never seen

Even bad films can teach us in some way, but there are some that seem to be without any merit at all and you wish, like Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you could erase them from your memory. Which film, if it somehow made its way onto your desert island, would you gladly throw out to sea?

NP: Batman & Robin (1997) – Schumacher, J – I might need a coaster for my coconut milk.

About this weeks castaway

Chief of Red Mosquito Films, Neil has adopted the role/s of producer, director, cinematographer and editor on various productions for the company. Red Mosquito Films is a West Midlands based indie film production company that specialise in short films and documentaries. Inspired by a wealth of cinema and the zero-budget filmmaking of the DSLR generation, films are produced on a frequent basis and vary in style, content and narrative. ‘The Mad Jicks’ (2017, directed by Parmar) and ‘Working Girl’ (2016, directed by Nick John Whittle) are currently being entered into festivals. All other Red Mosquito films are available online, in particular ‘Reflexions’ (2016, dir. Neil Parmar) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bly7brPKIsM & ‘The Southwest’ (2016, dir. Neil Parmar) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOvnbNnmYhQ

Interview with Neil Parmar

reflexionsposter

NEIL PARMAR is a writer, director, producer and editor who has worked on many short films and is currently working as the editor on the feature film Junction Six. We spoke to him about ‘Reflexions’,  the latest short from Red Mosquito films. It’s a piece of experimental cinema written by Nick John Whittle which gives a snapshot of six people’s lives through what appears at first glance to be disjointed narrative. However, the structure is not as complex as it seems. As each person presents his or her secrets it soon becomes apparent that the characters are not disparate and have much in common, even relational. Throughout, only we are the inquisitor and as such privy to the interconnected stories of six broken individuals and one entity.

What sort of themes do you explore in the film?

Ultimately, the film explores the complications of being human in today’s society and how our relationships with other people shape our feelings, whether they are happy or sad feelings. If there was one thing I wanted to have with this film, it was a cast of 5 or 6 characters that explore a range of different emotions, therefore there is a range of themes explored within.

Tell us a bit about how the film came about?

I had recently watched a video essay on Vimeo that explored how characters in films are often at their most vulnerable when they are alone in front of a mirror. It looked at how women will cry in front of a mirror, where a man will smash and break. I loved this idea therefore I simply jotted down the basic idea (in bullet points) and listed character types i.e. ‘Cheating Woman’, ‘Man in Love’ etc. I then sent the notes to scriptwriter Nick John Whittle and he came back with the script complete with a story arc with for these characters.

How did you fund the film?

The budget was very minimal, as all Red Mosquito productions are. The equipment we used was our own; the locations were spread between my own house and Nick’s house. The actors all worked for free. The music throughout the film is royalty free. I’m actually struggling to think if we spent any money specifically for Reflexions.

In all your films, to what extent does money become a barrier? How do you overcome it?

Obviously without any real budget, you are restricted to using what you have access to. This could be why I took on so many roles to produce this film (producer, director, cinematographer, editor). I’m so used to figuring things out without a budget that the question of do we need to spend anything rarely comes up because we are already know that spending money is the last thing we want to do.

What challenges did you encounter when making the film?

This shoot was actually one of the most relaxed shoots I’ve ever been apart of. It could be that most of the time the crew was very minimal and it was generally very straightforward as we had easy access to all the locations and scenes were fairly simple to shoot. All the actors were well prepared with script and gave great performances, so there was very little time wasted.

What, if anything, did you learn while making the film?

By the time we went into production for Reflexions we had already worked with most of the cast in previous productions. Therefore casting was very straightforward and relaxed. As there was a relationship there already, everything felt comfortable on set and that relaxed environment brought out the best performances. I knew this already but it really came in to fruition when producing Reflexions. Good relationships create enjoyable productions, in my opinion.

What are you hoping to achieve with ‘Reflexions’?

Just to make a film I’m proud of and better the last production. We are going to enter into festivals and try and get it screened anywhere and everywhere but ultimately, I just wanted to make a good film. Festival entries, wins and any other accolades are a nice bonus. I do feel like I have achieved what I set out for.

There are a wide number of festivals these days in which you can submit short films. How do you decide which are best to go for?

I have no real preference. When on filmfreeway, I just enter it into where I feel like it could be appreciated. Oh and where it’s not too expensive to enter!

Interview by Phil Slatter

Case Study: Twisted Words Of Guidance and Visual Stimulation

Twisted Words of Guidance and visual stimulation matthew simmondsIn a new series, Outward film network takes a look back at some of the previous shorts the Outward team have been involved in examining what went right, what went wrong, what challenges were faced, how the films were received and how they were made on a zero budget.

TWISTED WORDS OF GUIDANCE AND VISUAL STIMULATION (Matthew Simmonds, 2010)

What, who, where and when?

Twisted Words of Guidance and Visual Stimulation is a three minute short that was made in September 2010. Written and directed by Matthew Simmonds and produced by Phil Slatter, the crew also consisted of David Woods as director of photography, Beckie Welfare on make-up and Dan Pugsley on sound recording and design. It was edited by David Holloway. Although made prior to Outward being set-up, it marks the first short Matthew Simmonds, Phil Slatter and David Woods all worked on together.

Set entirely in a living room, the plot involves a mother (played by Gemma Woods) and her daughter Sally (played by Esme Allen-Quarmby) bickering over the T.V. schedule. In a satire on modern life and the effect of multiple T.V. channels available, it examines how the pairs relationship is dictated by the T.V. schedule and leads to them bickering.

Filming took place in a family home in High Wycombe.

What challenges did it present?

The T.V. which plays such a key role needed to be largely off screen as otherwise the action wouldn’t have matched the narrative of what the characters were discussing. With no budget, creating the T.V. action and playing it back through the film was not possible.

We also had to cast a child actor who would play a key role.

We got in touch with Dan Pugsley who was able to record voiceover (with various members of the crew filling in different roles) that we could play in the background and give the presence of the television filling the room.

To cast the role of Sally, we located Esme’s mum Heather who was a great supporter of the project.

What problems did you encounter?

Being set indoors with just two actors and a small crew meant the shoot itself was almost entirely trouble free.

We had problems finding a director of photography and even had one that agreed to fill the role only for him to tell us that he didn’t think it could be done on a micro-budget. David Woods stepped in and although he is not a trained DP, the lighting kit and natural light were used to create the ideal effect.

In post-production, we had an editor ready but after hanging on to the tapes for a while he returned them saying he couldn’t find the time to do the edit. This mean post-production was dragged out somewhat and we had to find a new editor.

How was it made on a low budget?

We filmed at a family home so the location was free. The cast and crew worked for free and without expenses as they believed in the project and wanted to build up contacts and credits. The actors wore their own clothes and the camera was one on loan to David Woods for filming of his feature Till Sunset.

The money we did spend was around £150 and was provided by Matthew Simmonds and Phil Slatter. Money was spent on make-up, tapes and lunch for the cast and crew.

How did the film turn out?

The final film turned out well and everyone was pleased with the results. It was selected for Shetland Arts Hansel of Film and the Sundance ‘Story of our time’ competition where it was screened on their website in 2012. It was also screened at a showcase at The Albany in London in February 2013.

What did you learn from the film?

Pre-dominantly the importance of having a post-production plan in place. Post-production dragged out too long due to the issues encountered with the editor. When this happens, enthusiasm for the project can wain somewhat. Fortunately the editor we did find did a terrific job as did all the cast and crew.

IMDB:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2305017/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Watch the film: https://vimeo.com/28407980 (Also embedded below)