Colchester Film Festival – Exclusive Interview

Words by Naomi Jeffreys

Film Festivals are an integral part of filmmaking, particularly Independent Films, they act as platforms for filmmakers to gain a buzz about their film. Critics and producers are then able to get the word out about their film.

The Rabbit Film Section was fortunate enough to get an interview with one of Colchester Film Festivals Directors, Tristan Syrett.

Naomi Jeffreys: How important are Film Festivals for Filmmakers?

TS: As this is a short film festival so the importance for filmmakers is increased as short films are the only way new up and coming directors can showcase their talents but the chances for large audiences to see short films is very small. Without film festivals like ours new talents cannot be discovered and gain the praise and reputation they deserve.

TS: The festival is also jammed packed full of Masterclasses and workshops from people like BAFTA nominated director Luke Snellin, Oscar nominated Screenwriter Julian Unthank and Director of Photography Steven Hall who’s credits include ‘War Horse, ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Batman Begins’.

NJ: Your programme is varied, how do you begin to decide what makes it in to the Film Festival?

TS: The selection process was simple we picked best films that were submitted.  We didn’t decide the categories or a theme for the festival beforehand we choose the best films and fitted them into categories. We don’t pick the films to fit the festival we change the festival to fit the films.

NJ: What, in your opinion, makes a good film?

TS: We believe that a good story told well is the most important aspect of any film and have selected all the films in this festival with this in mind.

NJ: Do you have any advice for any budding Filmmakers at the University of Essex?

TS: Concentrate on telling a good story. Everything else is secondary.

NJ: When did you know you wanted to enter in the world of Film?

TS: When I heard that Matthew Vaughn married Claudia Schiffer after producing ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’

NJ: Who chooses the Films which are entered in to the Festival?

TS: The films have been chosen by the festival directors Tristan Syrett and Steven Dorrington.

NJ: You have a 48 hour Filmmaking challenge, how do you come up with that?

TS: We took a look at Sci-Fi London’s 48-hour film challenge and thought ‘That’s a good idea, we’ll do one of those’.

NJ: Are you eager to get Students a part of the Film Festival?

TS: Yes, we’re screening four films made by Essex University Students ‘Fine Feathers’ by Martine Wolff, ‘Ram’ by Kit Wood, ‘Mourning Dew’ by Rob Rhys Wills and ‘Bethnal Green’ by Elena Dirstaru in the local films section on Sunday the 7th and are keen for students to come along to festival and be inspired by the work being created by filmmakers from around the world.

NJ: What can Students expect to see at the Film Festival?

TS: They can expect to see a selection of short films from 13 countries that they would normally never get to see, masterclasses and workshops from established professionals, opportunities to network with filmmakers from around the UK, live music from Colchester’s top bands and a whole lot more!

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.

Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog Review – Independent Film Issue

Words by Benjamin Pinsent

Couldn’t get a hold of a copy of the Rabbit newspaper? Well, we are positing everyday the content which you would get in the paper.

Check out this review below;

What if I told you that Neil Patrick Harris, Joss Whedden  and Nathan Fillion made a musical during the 2008 American writers strike? What if I told you that this forty minute gem was free to watch online?

‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ concerns Billy (Harris) a down trodden super-villian trying to join a group of the greatest super villains and beat his nemesis Captain Hammer (Fillion). But, he also tries to woo the girl of his dreams (Felicia Day) at the same time. With this simple plot, a great cast, and the man who brought us ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’and ‘The Avengers’ at the helm, it is a well-crafted funny and heart breaking musical.

Whedden knows how to write characters; we have seen it in his other work and we see it here; Billy/Dr Horrible is an outsider, disillusioned with modernity but still craving a way into normality and Captain Hammer is an egocentric super hero five steps from himself become a super villain.

Everything is pitch perfect from beginning to end. It is a musical confronting common understandings of the hero villain dynamic pervading popular culture, while retaining a self-awareness that stops it from being too preachy.