This week I spoke to Clarisse Loughrey, the chief film critic for The Independent. She also acts as a regular stand-in for Mark Kermode on BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘Kermode and Mayo’ and runs That Darn Movie Show, a weekly review channel on YouTube.
We cover lots and a lot of it is new ground for the podcast because I’ve never interviewed a film critic before – so we talk about the art of pitching, how Clarisse learnt what a good freelance rate was, how she learnt to trust her opinion and put it on the Internet, what her writing process is, the fear you get when your opinion of a movie differs from your peers and fair bit more, which I think will hopefully be insightful not just for people interesting in a career in film criticism, but also to anyone that reads film reviews – if that’s not too audacious – and what goes into that. So thank you so much to Clarisse for sharing that perspective.
My guest this week is Nia Hughes, an Organising Official for BECTU, the union for creative ambition. They represent over 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries and do a lot of important work to support and advise their members on issues such as pay and conditions but also career development, contracts of employment, hours, leave, maternity, pensions and bullying and harassment.
Nia was really integral to the Ritzy Cinema London Living Wage campaign, having started her career working for that very cinema and she is currently focused on supporting freelancers and making sure they know their rights.
If you are a freelancer in the film industry this episode is for you! Towards the end, Nia talks about several things you can and should be doing to protect yourself and maximise your chances of having a positive professional experience. They are golden nuggets of wisdom and I am so thrilled that Nia came on the podcast to share them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.