Tom Bacon: Exclusive Interview

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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:

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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.

Hattie Morahan: An Exclusive Interview

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Words by Naomi Jeffreys

The Rabbit Film Section has an exclusive interview with an actor who is frequently on the best London stages who is now forging her silver screen career. Check out the full interview here. 

“This is a bravura performance that elevates Morahan to the front rank of British actors.” Michael Billington’s review of Hattie Morahan in her most recent stage performance as Nora Helmer, in the critically acclaimed A Doll’s House at the Young Vic Theatre this summer. Hattie Morahan is one of those actors that every budding actor would aspire to be:  never out of work. She is an actor at the top of her game.

We meet in the National Theatre café where I bought her a coffee and we found a quiet corner to sit and chat. Fresh off the stage from a three week run at the Young Vic, Morahan is dressed simply…

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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!