Words by Naomi Jeffreys
The Rabbit Film Section was fortunate enough to have an interview with actor and writer, Tom Bacon. Who has just secured funding for his film, ‘Geoffrey’s Belt’. Have a look at the interview below:
Naomi Jeffreys: ‘Geoffrey’s Belt’ is currently in pre-production, can you tell the University of Essex students a little taster of what they can expect in the film?
Tom Bacon: Ultimately at it’s heart ‘Geoffrey’s Belt’ is a love story. Although the themes of Jane’s new found desires are at the forefront and to some degree the idea of somebody discovering new, powerful and quite extreme sexual feelings well into their fifties is a little taboo, It is still a heart warming story of two people losing each other, finding each other and falling in love all over again, having found a new dimension in their lives.
TB:I hope our audience will feel touched by that journey, feel they have been privy to something intimate, delicate but also raw and honest. I hope we will have entertained them and given them some characters that they can really enjoy the company of and feel genuine compassion for.
NJ: Where did you study?
TB: I trained as an actor at The Guildford School of Acting, graduating in 2000.
NJ: Your background is in Acting, can you give an insight in to being an actor and the transition in to writing?
TB: I think being an actor certainly helps you on your way to writing, you’re taught and are continuously learning what makes a scene or a story work and what doesn’t, what the dynamics are, the conflict, the rhythm, these are the things that as an actor you look for first because they dictate how you approach everything, they’re the sign posts mining out all off the subtlety and nuance that makes something rich, full and fat with texture and depth. Basically the script is king, it doesn’t matter what else or who else is involved, if the writing isn’t good enough then it wont work, without a compelling story and deeply rooted and rounded characters there is nothing to engage with.
TB: I wish I had started writing a lot sooner, unlike a musician for example, an actor cant practise his/her skills so readily, there is little point pacing around your bedroom reciting Shakespeare to the walls, where as a guitarist, no matter where they are or what time it is can pick up the guitar and practice what they love, acting doesn’t work quite like that, it requires more than one person, and often demands some kind of audience to come alive. In the downtime it’s essential to have outlet for creativity and for an actor writing has to be the best way, it makes you understand your job as an actor better, works your imagination and if you can write something good enough becomes an opportunity to create your own work.
NJ: How important are the public in funding your film?
TB: The public are essential in funding our film, in times such as this it is nearly always and rather bizarrely the arts that suffer most when cuts come in. Even before that the UK film industry is a notoriously fragile and difficult landscape. There is very little funding available and there are many a bureaucratic hoop to jump through to get at what there is.
TB: On a positive note crowd funding is such an optimistic thing, it puts the power in the hands of the people to decide what value to place on the arts, if we, the public think a particular film, play or instillation should be made, we can make it happen very easily, we all give a small, manageable amount of money, 5000 people give £5 for example and there, it’s done! And we did it, not governments, no big business, we weren’t waiting for hand out’s we just said, this should happen and made it so. It’s a very powerful and exciting thing.
NJ: British Independent Film has really changed over the years, making a mark in London and abroad, how important is Independent Film as a genre?
TB: Independent film is vital because it is the true face of film making as an art form, without it all you have is blockbusters and branding. There is of course a place for big budget studio films, that is a massive industry that independent film couldn’t survive without but they are not particularly credible, integral, relevant or significant contributions to film making. Independent film is where the artists are working. Independent film also provides the opportunity to nurture new talent and find new voices.
NJ: As one of the writers for ‘Geoffrey’s Belt’ how did you come up with inspiration for the film?
TB: Some years ago, I watched a programme about wealthy middle aged women in America, paying handsomely to be abducted, both for sexual gratification, and to inject some excitement into their privileged but ultimately dull lives. It was not a tale of love, but it got me thinking about one; about normal people, sexuality and age.
TB: How important is our sexuality in our fifties? What does it look like? What is taboo? No one seems to be talking about middle aged sexuality with any real honesty, especially regarding women. Why wouldn’t couples in their fifties still be exploring and discovering their sexuality? Why do we assume desire has a shelf life? Something regrettably left behind.
TB:We have all, at some stage, lost sight of the importance and value of sex; in the context of a stale relationship or a break down in communication and connection. Is the penalty of having a loving, lasting, secure relationship sexual inertia? Can love and passion co-exist long term?
TB:Often people simply stop taking risks with each other. Jane and Geoffrey committed to this way of life many years ago, and so paved their way to a safe and comfortable life together, loving, but devoid of passion.
TB: I thought it would be fun and beautiful to watch them travel that journey and fight to save each other.
NJ: Do you have any actors in mind for the part of Jane and Geoffery?
TB: We won’t be announcing the cast until nearer to shooting but we have some great people in mind and a few surprises up our sleeve too.
NJ: You have two composers on board, with some impressive credentials, is music an important part of the film?
TB: Music is always very important as it constantly informs the audience how they should be feeling. It is also important here because we have such contrasting worlds, the safety and comfort of Jane & Geoffrey’s home life versus the hostile and dangerous world outside. This is why we have two composers, one to tackle each soundscape.
NJ: What’s the next step in getting your project underway? When do you think it will be finished?
TB: We have a huge amount of work left to do, from finding locations, key crew and cast to scheduling. We will have a months pre production in January and then shoot mid to late February, we hope to have a finished film by May.
NJ: Will you be utilising London’s Film Festival’s?
TB: Yes, we will be entering the film into all the major film festivals
NJ: What are your Top Five Must See films?
TB: In no particular order:’Taxi Driver’, ‘Festen’,’True Romance’, ‘American Beauty’, ‘Antichrist’
NJ: Who gives you inspiration?
TB: My strongest visual inspirations for the piece are the wonderful stillness and simplicity of Jane Campion’s ‘Passionless Moments’ where ordinary objects and narratives become beautifully extraordinary, ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There’ by the Coen brothers, the relationship with space in Erwin Orlaf’s photography and the warmth, magic and romance of ‘Amelie’ by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
NJ: Do you have any advice for students at the University of Essex who want to become actors and or filmmakers / writers?
TB: I would say that if you want to write, start now and don’t be too judgmental just write and see what comes out at first, learn what fits and what jars, get to know your characters, make sure you’re making them fight for what they want, it’s a process. If you have a smart phone you can make a film, I haven’t done this myself but I have seen some great examples and what better way to cut your teeth and find your style and voice, and again it is something you can do right now.
TB: As for actors, the main thing is to work hard and never give up, it can be very difficult at times, but every time you get a job you’re reminded of why you sacrifice so much, so stick at it.
This is filmmaking at its earliest stages, the fact that crowdfunding and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been at the centre of this exciting new adventure. ‘Geoffrey’s Belt’ is a film to watch out for.