I am absolutely delighted that my final episode of the year is with Jess Jones, someone who I’m really lucky to call a friend.
I met Jess working at the BFI and I think she has an incredible work ethic and an infectious personality, and it’s been really great watching her soar and have lots of success this year, so I was very excited to be able to hear more about that in this interview.
We cover a lot – from Jess’ initial desire to be an actor to her discovery of development, how and why she left the BFI to become a freelance script editor and development exec and also lots of great general chat about the creative process, such as deadlines, subjectivity, imposter syndrome, burnout, goal-setting – I think its packed full of gems and also Jess has one of the best answers to the myth-busting question I’ve heard doing this podcast.
We also do a quick recap of some of our favourite women-helmed films this year, so listen out for those recommendations.
My guest this week is Natalie Samson, a chameleon of the film industry, who has held roles at Women in Film & TV, the post production house Clear Cut and currently as Head of Production at Into Film, a really fantastic educational charity that focuses on using film as a learning device that can aid young people’s cultural, social and academic development.
I think Natalie is brilliant, and so enthusiastic about the work that she does with Into Film. We also talk about her stint on the Funny Farm – a Kiwi TV show, how to best manage being freelance and the value of a support network.
My guest this week is Rebecca Day, a documentary producer and psychotherapist, who began her filmmaking career working for the Scottish Documentary Institute. She has produced the immersive essay film Becoming Animal which uses cinema’s sensory tools to explore humanity’s relationship with the natural environment and is currently producing Silent Men, a personal feature doc about men’s mental health. Alongside that, Rebecca currently offers therapeutic support to filmmakers through her business venture Film In Mind.
I particularly love this interview because we explore the ways in which filmmaking can be quite emotionally strenuous and also why this isn’t talked about enough, but equally because Rebecca’s career is quite unique and is testament to the fact that you can do creatively fulfilling and vital work in the film industry away from what might be considered the mainstream. The whole point of this podcast is to discover the wealth of different jobs you can do with an interest film and I think Rebecca is a brilliant example of someone who has taken that interest in a really unusual but necessary direction.
This podcast was also recorded on a Skype-esque online platform, so the sound quality isn’t as sparkling as usual – if it ever is – but I will say that it’s important to me to canvas a broad range of perspectives and not always host these interviews in London, because although that’s obviously a key destination for the film industry there is a lot of talent and creativity that exists in the regions and I think it would be remiss of me to neglect that. I have always chosen to opt for variety rather than perfection. So do forgive any sound niggles, and I hope you enjoy the content of the interview all the same.
Cate is Head of Acquisitions at Curzon Artificial Eye, the UK distributor behind many an award-winning movie. Some of my favourite releases of theirs have included The Handmaiden, Victoria, Love & Friendship, Only You, A Fantastic Woman, 120 BPM, The Great Beauty and Jeune Femme, to name but a few.
We talked about the start of Cate’s career working for BBC Films and Casarotto, as well as her acquisitions highlights, how she deals with not making deals and what returning to work since maternity leave has been like.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention a Curzon release coming to cinemas soon, which is undoubtedly one of my favourites of 2019 (I was lucky enough to see it at TIFF) and that’s Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady On Fire. It’s every bit as sensuous and wise and vivid as you’d expect and I can’t recommend it enough. Curzon are releasing that into cinemas and on-demand from the 28th February.
My guest this week is the very well-named Nicole Dorsey, a filmmaker who splits her time between Toronto and LA. Her work has screened internationally and her debut feature film Black Conflux – a haunting exploration of womanhood, isolation, and toxic masculinity, set in 1980s Newfoundland – premiered at this year’s TIFF. She has several short films to her name including Arlo Alone which was a Vimeo Staff Pick and she also makes commercials for clients like Nike, Redbull and Nestlé.
We spoke about the challenges inherent in moving from shorts to features, including maintaining tone and getting funding, the necessity of living frugally as a filmmaker, participating in TIFF’s Filmmaker Lab this year and the influences behind her debut feature Black Conflux from Paul Thomas Anderson to Andrea Arnold.
I really enjoyed my conversation with Nicole, she was very down-to-earth and has fantastic taste in movies, so without further adieu, this is episode 36 of Best Girl Grip.
This week I interview Robyn Citizen, who besides having a very cool name, is a film curator, scholar, educator and a Toronto-based Texan. Her eclectic film background includes working as a Publicist Assistant in the Repertory office of New York City’s Film Forum and guest lecturing on zombie cinema and the geopolitics of East Asian anthology horror films.
In 2018, Citizen joined the Toronto International Film Festival as a programming associate where she programs for the short cuts section and later that year she was named as a programmer for the Human Rights Film Festival.
We talk about the power of short film and getting them seen by audiences, getting a PhD, her experience of being a black woman in the academic sphere and the importance of the deep take.
Robyn was a joy to interview and I’m excited for you to hear it.
Pamela B. Green has creative directed, produced, and directed feature film main titles, motion graphics, and award packages. She did the titles for a recent indie film I really loved called Blindspotting, as well as Crown Heights and Fences but if you look at her imdb page you will be scrolling for a while. Her most recent project, a documentary called Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is her feature directorial debut.
Alice Guy-Blaché is missing from most film histories and continues to be a little-known name outside academic circles. From her directing debut in 1896 at Parisian-based Gaumont studio and her role as head of production there, to the opening of her own studio and subsequent career in the US, Guy-Blaché worked as a director, producer or writer on more than 1000 films. A visionary who mastered technique, pushed the boundaries of genres and wrote progressive narratives, her influence is such that she cannot be overlooked. Be Natural is a captivating, must-see profile of the mother of cinema.
This episode actually follows on quite nicely from last week’s interview with Elise McCave the Director of Narrative Film at Kickstarter, because the journey of Pamela’s film coming into the world more or less began with Kickstarter as well.
We talk about why her grandmother was her mentor, how she learnt how to be a filmmaker on the job, Hugh Heffner’s role in the film and pushing through days when she didn’t feel like it was going to be completed. I think this is a really honest and insightful interview, so thank you to Pamela for being open and to TIFF for making it happen.