Theme for Issue: Studio Ghibli

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

“The creation of a single world comes from a huge number of fragments and chaos.”

Animated film has become so part of society, so part of film, that we can hardly comprehend what it takes to create these animated films. In a world which is dominated by ‘Disney’ and ‘Pixar’.

But there is a production company, in Japan, which is something entirely different, ‘Studio Ghibli’ – whether you have heard of it or not, it is a company which produces a tour de force in animation.

This week, our issue was suggested by our deputy film editor, Benjamin who suggested that we have an issue on the wonderful ‘Studio Ghibili’. And we decided that we would.

With its beautiful animation, wise words and often a wonderful soundtrack, this is a film production company which has been running for over twenty five years. ‘Studio Ghibili’ has produced films, such as ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howls Moving Castle’.

It is a genre of film which is perhaps sometimes undermined, undervalued, with its comparison with Anime and the odd fans which come with it. But ‘Studio Ghibili’ is a film fanatics dream and most importantly, this isn’t your typical Blockbuster film, it something so much more than that.

Our writers have been furiously writing away about this week’s issue and I was astounded at their love and knowledge of ‘Studio Ghibili’, each with their own different take on their review or article.

Clearly, students at the University of Essex have a love for film, so why don’t you join the Film Society?

They are a great society who show a variety of different films. From recent to classic films. You can find them on Sunday and Monday nights at 7: 30 in the LTB. They also have trips to the Odeon Colchester twice a term and they have an IMAX trip at the end of the year. What’s more, if you sign up, you will get one pound off any Cine10 screenings.  Go on, join them and become immersed in the University of Essex’s love of films.

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Will Blesch: An Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

The Blogosphere has become an integral part of filmmaking and an key part of how filmmakers get their films recognised to a wider audience. And, thanks to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, Marketing a film has completely changed.

Thanks to the Blogosphere, the Rabbit Film Section was contacted by a Film Maker who was keen to use the internet to get the word out about his new film, ‘Requiem for the Night’, which is the first Israeli Vampire Film.

Check out your Editor, Naomi Jeffrey’s interterview will Will Blesch below;

Naomi Jeffreys:  Can you tell the University of Essex students a little bit about your involvement in the Film Industry? 

Will Blesch: Sure! My involvement in the film industry actually goes back to childhood. Well, my interest in it does, anyway. I started off writing plays and getting my friends and sisters and cousins to perform in them. That transitioned into doing stuff in high school, and then I went and studied film at the university.

WB: Eventually, I started my own company and got involved in working in commercials, music videos, and industrials. However, I found that very unsatisfying and began working very hard to get into the feature film world.

WB:  Throughout all of the years, I’ve always been either the writer or director on the projects I’ve worked on, although I’ve also occasionally worked as a 1st assistant director as well. (Which…I was not entirely fond of doing. Not because it’s a lesser role on the set or something, but because I genuinely don’t enjoy cracking a whip or tracking progress on the production schedule. )

WB: Right now, I am working on a feature documentary regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and then I have this vampire movie I began writing, and that is now heavy in development.

NJ: You are keen to use the Blogosphere to get the word out about your latest film, an Israeli Vampire Film – how important are Blogs to get the word out about the film? 

WB: Blogs can be very important in any media blitz. That’s because everyone is always looking for fresh content…not only from a marketing perspective (you know blogs can get some really good SEO rankings with the search engines etc.),

WB: But because bloggers usually have an established base of core fans. When a blogger talks about something…his/her fans actually listen.

WB: Our theory is that if we can convert the bloggers/writers into fans and supporters, and get them writing and talking and Facebooking and Tweeting about us…their fans will listen to them and in turn will begin talking and Facebooking and Tweeting about our Vampire movie. We want a buzz…and blogs are a very important element in generating that online noise.

NJ: Can you divulge anything about this momentous film, ‘Requiem for the Night’? 

WB: ‘Requiem for the Night’ is a project we hope will become one of the top vampire movies in the genre. I can say that it is designed to be something different from the mainstream. It’s designed to be the type of movie that will allow die-hard vampire fans as well as a broader, more fantasy/sci-fi oriented fan base to enjoy it.

WB: Although it’s based on myths and stories that predate Christianity, the story is very modern and takes place in a world that is on the edge of an apocalypse where religious, and geopolitical realities in today’s world are taken to a hypothetical extreme…to a point of no return. And, in the middle of this we find our vampires coasting along.

WB: Their stories are caught up in the realities of this world I just talked about…but their existence down through the ages…and questions about their future … are some of the questions this vampire movie will address.

NJ: Who is it funded by? 

WB: Right now, this film is in development. That means, we have a very specific plan and order that we are following in getting it ready to go into pre-production. At the moment we are exploring various funding avenues. That means we are in talks regarding potential co-productions with other production companies, also with international production companies with a view toward an international co-production.

WB: We’re looking at maybe doing something with Germany at the moment.  We’re also looking at potential private investors and we’re open to entrepreneurs or other business people that might want to talk about partnerships at this point. We even set up a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com, although I personally want to stress that crowdfunding is not where it’s at for us. I mean, I want it to be successful. Sure. But, that’s just one avenue and even if it fails this project is moving forward.

NJ: Who is it directed by? 

WB: Well, I’m the driving force behind this concept and vampire movie project. I’m writing, and I’m also directing.

NJ: Is it in its infancy? 

WB: Since the project is in development, yes. You could say that the project is in its infancy. Although, we’ve really moved forward rapidly in just one month. We’ve gotten signed letters of interest from a number of high profile actors such as:

  • Ami Weinberg (Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” which was nominated for the 2005 Academy Award for Best Picture) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0918099/
  • Alon Dahan (“A Matter of Size”, and “The Syrian Bride” which won the Grand Prix des Amériques as well as the Peoples’ Choice Awards at the Montréal World Film Festival.) http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0196848/
  • Oded Menaster (“The Golden Pomegranate”, “Like a Fish Out of Water”)
  • Shlomit Mandel (German director, Maria Schrader’s “Liebesleben”)
  • Yinon Sapir (Adam Sandler’s “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” )

NJ: How important is Independent Film? 

WB: Independent Film is extremely important. I’d say that it is the life and blood of film. The studios these days spend tons of money and many times wait a very long time to break even. From a money point of view, the studios are on dangerous ground I think.

WB: So, it’s up to individual artists, creators, and financial backers who believe in them to generate quality content.  To be sure…these artists and creators need to get it into their heads that filmmaking is a business. That’s why it’s called “the industry”…and not “the artistry” you know.  Any independent filmmaker who wants to make a movie…and then keep on making movies…needs to view the art from a perspective of… “how is this movie going to resonate with an audience enough to make money for me…and for my investors.”

WB: But, with that said…I think Independent Film can also help keep the industry slightly more honest. I mean most films coming from the studios are super formulaic and I think audiences can tell, and I think that at least a portion of them want to see something that’s not always based on a formula and that isn’t always, you know…the cowboy riding off into the sunset with a magical happy ending.  I think it’s important for Independent Film to provide an innovative, counter-balance to studio blockbusters.

NJ: How important do you believe Film Festivals are for Independent Films? 

WB: Film Festivals are great for Independent Film. I think they’re mainly for publicity and public relations. They help with buzz and building up awards that the individual filmmakers can put on their CV’s. Sometimes they can help get distribution.

NJ: With Halloween today, how important is it to get the word out? 

WB: Halloween seems to me to be a primarily American holiday, you know? But, you know, this movie is associated with some of the very same things that Halloween is associated with. Horror, creepy crawly things that go bump in the night, with ghouls and zombies and creatures of darkness, etc.

NJ: Finally, what can viewers expect to see in this film?

WB: Viewers can expect to see a vision of vampires and of a world that they haven’t been exposed to before. That can expect a story that includes elements of romance, action and adventure, politics, religion, and of course…dark fantasy and horror!

Top Five Horror Films

Words by Eifion Jones

With All Hallows Eve rearing it’s demonic head and yet another excuse to dress up scantily and drink the town dry looms, it would perhaps be of interest to consider one of the true aspects of Halloween; Horror. And so, on that note, I present to you, a list of my top 5 horror films, in order of course.

5. Inland Empire – David Lynch, 2007

Directed by David Lynch in 2007 what is there to say about Inland Empire besides this; it is nightmarish. So much so in fact, that I will openly confess that this is the only film to ever make me too scared to sleep.

And when I finally did fall asleep, I woke up straight away because of intense nightmares. If you’re looking for a film containing cohesive narrative and, to be honest, sense then look away as this film will not interest you. If on the other hand you are looking for a weird, complex, unsettling, multilayered film about … well you’re guess is as good as mine, then look no further than Inland Empire.

Weirdest Scene : The rabbit family fake sit-com thing. So weird.

4. Funny Games – Michael Haneke, 1997

A lot of horror films scare you, a lot of them make you laugh and some of them make you run behind the sofa like someone’s thrown a live grenade in the room. Funny Games bullies you. It reaches a hand through the TV screen and says “For the next hour and a half, it’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be slow, and you’re not going to enjoy this.”

The plot is simple, an Austrian family (don’t watch the American one) go away to their secluded holiday home. Upon arrival they notice two oddly dressed men hanging around, who claim they are on holiday too.

Eventually, they proposition the family with a simple bet; if by the morning the family is dead, the men win. If the family are still alive, they are free to go. Funny Games is a slow, hard to watch film that was originally intended to question America’s desensitization of violence in the media and even upon repeated viewings holds not only the family, but you the viewer hostage also.

Best scene : (Spoiler Warning) When the audience thinks that the mother has finally killed her captors, but then the film begins to rewind …

3. Halloween – John Carpenter, 1978

Though their name might not be held in high regard, it is impossible to deny the success of the 80’s horror film phenomenon that is the “slasher” genre. Ranging from excellent to excellently dire, the slasher genre has seen its share of highs and lows. But, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the early 80’s/late 70’s was its high point, and it is here that we saw many annoyingly dragged out franchises begin their illustrious silver screen career.

My favourite, and in my opinion, the finest and most chilling piece of slasher work is John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’, with Argento’s Tenebrae or Suspiria as close second or thirds. The story of Halloween is simple; boy kills sister, he’s evil, comes back, kills teenagers etc.

Though this formula seems dated now, at the time Carpenter’s grasp of camera work and suspenseful pacing made for a truly disturbing experience, and there is not as much violence as one would suspect. While the franchise has been torn, twisted, re-made and basically ruined, Halloween 2 and 3 are worth a watch, though it is worth pointing out that the third film does not star Michael Myers.

Interesting Fact : Myers mask is an inside out William Shatner mask.

2. Audition, Takeshi Miike

The recent spate of terrible remakes of Asian (particularly Korean and Japanese) horror films has yielded one good result, which is that people have attempted to seek out the originals. And the overall consensus is this; The original, as usual, is nearly always better. Japan and Korea are powerhouses in both extreme and horror cinema, and what better film to choose for number two then one that perfectly melds the two. Audition, is, horrifying. It’s disturbing transition from seemingly romantic drama to full blown extreme nightmare is unsuspected and makes for an uncomfortable viewing.

The story revolves around a father whose son has implored him to find a new wife, following the death of his previous one. Working in the Media, he arranges for (fake) auditions for a radio play, and he uses this process to pick himself a wife. Though at first his choice seems perfect, he soon realizes he got more than he bargained for. Containing some pretty graphic violence, Miike is not alien to nastiness and this work is no exception. Bringing new meaning to the sentence “My girlfriend is a nightmare,” Audition truly is one of the finest horror films ever made.

Kiri, Kiri, Kiri.

1. The Shining

This review may seem biased when considering these two facts. 1.) this is one of my favourite books of all time and 2.) Stanley Kubrick is in my opinion one of the top  five filmmakers of all time (Alongside Lynch, Haneke, Hitchcock, Miike.) But those things aside, you will still see that the general agreement is that ‘The Shining’ is if not the, then one of the, finest films/horror films ever made.

For those who don’t know the story, it follows a small family who move to a hotel (called the Overlook Hotel,) to carry out the maintenance work needed to keep it going over the winter. The Father (Jack Nicholson in the acting part of his career) wishes to use this isolation to his advantage and work on his writing.

But, his former alcoholism and cabin fever combine to unleash some inner demons that put the entire family at risk as sanity seems to slip further and further away from the father. There are many scenes from this film that have become famous since it’s release (The twin girls, The elevator full of blood and who can forget “heeeere’s Johnny”.) And for good reason, as it is these scenes and more that work together to create a frightening work of suspense and insanity that stands out as one of Kubrick’s finest works.

Interesting fact : The scene where Jack Nicholson crashes through the door with an Axe was ad lib, and not in the original script.