Samantha Bond: An Exclusive Interview

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“The past is history. The future is a mystery. This moment is a gift, which is why it’s called the present.” Samantha Bond, Daily Mail, 2012

It’s not yet sundown, and Samantha Bond and I meet in a busy National Theatre she glides in to the NT foyer, gives me a firm handshake, then I’m whisked off to the coffee counter. We find a quiet corner upstairs; Bond is dressed in a black blazer and black jeans.

Bond is the daughter of actor Phillip Bond and television producer Pat Sandys. She trained at the Bristol Old Vic. Her desire to act began at the age of fifteen: “What I wanted to be was a ballerina and I used to dance regularly after school and then when I got to fifteen, which is when you apply for ballet school, I did puppy fat in a major way “she says wittily.   “It’s funny when I talk about it now, because it should have been something that broke my heart and I don’t remember that feeling”

Samantha Bond has had a seriously successful career, on stage and on screen. Perhaps best known as Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan years of ‘James Bond’; “I mean the bit that is alarming is that I haven’t made one of them for ten years and will never make another one” But being a ‘Bond girl’ does have its advantages, “it changes the way the press view you because I had no idea before I did the ‘Bond’ films just how huge the franchise was, if you’re trying to push something from a charity point of view, it’s a huge bonus” she smiles.

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Nowadays, you can often see Bond making guest appearances in ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘Outnumbered’, she is quite often heard on the radio, and on various London stages. “My favourite is the theatre; I love the immediacy of it, no-one can edit your performance, no-one can light you so you look more beautiful. It is absolutely about, your integrity, your honesty, so that’s my first love”

I ask if she has any advice for students who want to become actors; “Yeah. You have to want to do it so much that the idea that you couldn’t would break your heart. “

“There’s a terrifying statistic, which means that of a 100% of actors, only 4% work all the time and 11% earn a living. And you need to know that if that’s what you want to do. It’s very interesting because the media talk to people who are successful, but for every one of us there are 4,000 who never will be.”

“It’s very easy to just buy the success of people like Benedict Cumberbatch, but the reality of this job is very different.”

Bond has had to work hard to achieve her success. I ask if she has anything planned for2013 “No not yet, it doesn’t worry me anymore. It used to, it’s much more fun not to worry”

For now, Samantha Bond is heading off to a Tim Minchin concert with her husband, then is off to dinner. Throughout our interview she was witty and entertaining.

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Naomi Jeffreys, Film Editor

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!

Brian Neufang – Producer of Ingenious Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Brian Neufang is a young and up and coming producer of the wonderful new Independent Film, ‘Inegenious’, which stars Jeremy Renner (‘Marvel’s The Avengers’).

The Rabbit Film Section has been fortunate enough to interview the driving force behind this Independent Film, which is operating outside the Hollywood system.

Naomi Jeffreys: What is it that draws you to Independent film?

Brian Neufang: I think what draws me most to independent film is the somewhat rebellious nature of how it gets made. It takes a very passionate individual, or group of individuals, to make a movie from conception to a finished product.

BN: Often times in order to do that without the help of the big movie studios and their financial resources, you have to go outside the box and do things in ways they have never been done before! It’s amazing to see an independent movie made with thousands of dollars look like it was made with millions.

NJ: What would you say to students who shy away from Independent film, and why they should watch them?

BN: I think students especially, should give independent film a chance. Don’t shy away from it. Everyone loves a blockbuster, they can be highly entertaining and with huge special effects, what’s not to like? I love to see things in IMAX 3D and have my senses overloaded just as much as the next guy.

BN: But, Independent movies are subtler and tend to push creative and artistic boundaries, test the limits of convention, which is what students should be doing with their lives in education anyway. That’s just my opinion. Getting into indie films is the perfect accompaniment to that kind of exploration.

NJ: Where did you study?

BN: I got a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts at the University of Arizona

NJ: When did you know you wanted to become a Movie Producer?

BN: That’s a good question. I’ve always known I wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I didn’t really know producing is what I wanted to do, until I started doing it. I set out to be an actor but I have always had a knack for pulling resources and people together.

BN: So, when not working as an actor, I have taken lots of jobs in various aspects of production to gain experience and a well-rounded knowledge of the movie making process. With a good combination of luck, skill, and strong relationships, I’ve managed to work my way into a producing position

NJ: Do you have any advice for any students who want to become Producers?

BN: Study your influences. Find out where they’ve been and what they did before they became your idol, that way you have an idea of the dues they paid before they reached the position they are in. Involve yourself in productions in any way you can.

BN: Student film and theatre productions are a great place to start. Work for free if you have to, be an extra. Just get on set so you can see how it all works. Look at the big picture and see what different people do in the different roles. Movies are huge undertaking with many moving parts.

BN: There is a reason there are so many names in the credits at the end. It takes a lot of people to bring it all together.

NJ: Can you tell us about your new film, ‘Ingenious’? 

BN: Ingenious is our first film. We funded the production ourselves. We turned to Kickstarter to raise the last bit of funding needed to do a full theatrical release independent of any major Hollywood studio, just the way our movie was made.

NJ: Jeremy Renner, star of upcoming film, Ingenious is a Hollywood star, is he an important factor in providing funds for a theatrical release outside the Hollywood system?

BN: Yes, Jeremy Renner’s current popularity will certainly help us gain attention for ‘Ingenious’ that we will need to raise the funds. He has a very large and growing fanbase that will want to see him in a different role. He usually plays a badass and this is a departure from that. He hasn’t been seen in a comedy since the movie ‘Senior Trip’ which came out about 15 years ago.

NJ: “America is the place where a little guy can have a big idea, all it takes is a little faith” one of the lines from the trailer of ‘Ingenious’. How far do you believe in that philosophy?

BN: I think faith in ones self is paramount to achieving your goals and dreams. I’ve seen it happen in many lives of the people I know. The Writer and Producer of Ingenious, Mike Cram is proof of that notion as well.

BN: The script is based on his own life as a dreamer and inventor that stuck to his belief, through thick and thin, to invent a product that has sold over 10 million units and continues to sell to this day. I’d tell you what that is but you’ll have to see the movie. I don’t want to spoil it, it’s the same invention in real life as it is in the movie.

NJ: ‘Ingenious’ looks like a true Indie Film, following two down on their luck inventors, trying to make a go of it in America. Is there anything else which students at the University of Essex should know about this film?

BN: Only that it speaks to the heart and ingenuity of the human being. We are capable of so many great things but we either get scared or lose sight of what we truly want to get out of life.This movie is about facing those obstacles with your heart and a sense of humour.

BN: The movie was shot entirely on 35mm film, which gives it a real picturesque quality. It takes place mostly in Tucson, Arizona, which has a very unique and scenic landscape. And of course, the actors, all of whom have gone on to major motion picture success, give great performances. And if you’re a Jeremy Renner fan, seeing him in this gives you an idea of the range he has and what adds to his credibility as a Hollywood star.