Episode 045: Corrina Antrobus, Founder of the Bechdel Test Fest

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This week I’m joined by Corrina Antrobus, who is very much someone I started the podcast with the intent to interview.

As you can tell by the runtime, we covered a lot, which is predominantly due to the fact that Corrina is a very busy woman and has had a really dynamic career, so there were lots of threads to explore. Corrina started out in VOD marketing for Virgin Movies, having worked her way up from receptionist and then moved over to Picturehouse Cinemas & Picturehouse Entertainment to become their Communications Manager, handling press and PR for releases such as God’s Own Country, Animals, The Wife, Out of Blue, Capernaum, The Last Tree and Monos.

She recently left that job to become Arts and Culture Communications Officer for Hackney, so we talk about what prompted that move, how she felt about slightly leaving the world of film and what projects she’s currently working on.

And then on top of that Corrina is the founder of Bechdel Test Fest –  an ongoing screening collective who present films with a positive representation for women in film that she runs alongside Beth Webb, Steph Watts and Caitlin Quinlan who are all incredible women with many a side hustle in their own right.

The first event I ever went to was a 25th anniversary screening of Thelma & Louise, and I’ve since been to several sold-out screenings that they’ve put on, always with a really thoughtfully considered panel that provides fresh context to older films. 

We devote a big chunk of the interview to talking about what prompted Corrina to start the festival, what her programming principles are and how she got the thing up and running. Alongside that we talk about the power of social media, the importance of seeing positive representations of women and people of colour, what Corrina has learnt since setting up the festival and the advice she would pass on to anyone wanted to run their own collective. And in a podcast first, we also discuss redundancy and how Corrina dealt with her experience of that.

It’s a really lovely episode I think – Corrina is incredibly smart and thoughtful and there are lots of other topics I could’ve and would’ve love to pick her brain about, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of covering her many passions and pursuits and I hope you enjoy hearing about them.

Show notes:

Episode 044: Gini Godwin, Production Designer

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My guest this week is Gini Godwin, a whirlwind of energy who has worked on a really prolific number of music videos, short films and feature projects including last year’s Blue Story and has a number of exciting collaborations in the pipeline.

As Gini says later on in the interview, production design is about creating the world of the film and therefore incredibly integral to our immersion in the story. We talk about putting out metaphorical fires, the difference between naturalistic and stylised design, whether there’s a place for hand-drawing skills in an age of digital revolution, the brilliance of Nadine Labaki and which era Gini would most like to design for. 

You can see all of Gini’s work credits here.

Episode 043: Kharmel Cochrane, Casting Director

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This week’s episode is an exciting one for me because I get to speak to a casting director, which is a role I’ve wanted to explore on the podcast for a while.

Kharmel Cochrane has been a casting director on a swathe of British indie films, including Lilting, The Goob, Bypass, The Levelling, Pin Cushion and a wicked upcoming horror film called Saint Maud. She has also cast all of Robert Eggers films from The Witch to The Lighthouse to his current viking revenge project. The Lighthouse is actually out this Friday and has such a distinctive look that it rewards a visit to the cinema. 

Kharmel was also a casting assistant to Nina Gold, who worked on Game of Thrones, The Iron Lady, Attack the Block and many many many more. So when you hear us talk about a Nina, that is who we mean. 

We talk about the types of films Kharmel likes to cast, why looking in unexpected places for talent is a priority, working with Robert Eggers, the genius casting in Uncut Gems and the physical reaction Kharmel has when she spots potential…

We were in Kharmel’s office in West London for this recording, so there are occasional background office sounds, but otherwise I hope you enjoy our chat.

Episode 042: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Composer

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I am very delighted to say that this week I am joined by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, an award-winning French composer based in London, whose CV includes commissions for the V&A Museum, an HBO short film as well as  drama and documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and The Guardian. She has also composed the film scores for the romantic drama Only You, which is currently available on Netflix and the upcoming film Rocks, which will be released in UK cinemas on the 10th April.

It was a really eye-opening discussion, in terms of hearing about all the different layers that go into a composition – from conceptual to intellectual to technical, and Emilie makes some really interesting points about why women composers aren’t getting equal opportunities, and also how this might be remedied. We also talk about the experience of hearing her work on the big screen, and the difficulty of finding studio space to record in. 

It’s worth mentioning that we were recording at the BFI Southbank and towards the end you can hear rehearsals for a screening accompanied by a live score, which I thought was actually serendipitous. 

Emilie is also an artist on Spotify, so I implore you to go and listen to her music after you’ve heard our interview.

Episode 041: Alexa Raisbeck, Technician/Projectionist

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Alexa is a technician or what you might formerly know as a projectionist at the BFI Southbank, as well as being an artist and academic working to highlight and practice with celluloid film. It’s quite a nerdy and technical chat, in the best way possible I think.

I knew very little about what it takes to project a film, despite having been to countless 35mm screenings at the BFI and having watched silent films on a projector at university, so it felt quite overdue to hear Alexa talk through the process. We also talk about how it feels to work in a part of the industry that has a bit of a sell-by date on it and can be quite exclusionary, as well as Alexa’s artistic work and what’s she doing to try and raise the profile of the profession.

I hope you learn something from this interview, more than anything. There’s a whole world that operates behind us in the projection room and I am really grateful to Alexa for letting me peek behind the curtain.

Episode 040: Jess Jones, Script Editor & Development Consultant

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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.

Episode 039: Natalie Samson, Head of Production, Into Film

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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.