I had a really wonderful chat with Emma Norton, who is an In-House Producer at Ireland’s Element Pictures, she was formerly Head of Development there and she’s worked on a number of their big titles, including The Favourite, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Room, The Lobster, Frank and The Guard. She has also produced Rosie and A Date for Mad Mary and most recently she exec produced the smash hit TV series that everyone’s been devouring – Normal People.
We talk about getting fired from her first job as an agent’s assistant, freelancing, working for Film4, making the move to Ireland, building relationships with writers and directors and the different between adapting material for TV as opposed to film, as well as how lockdown has been treating her.
Speaking of treats, I think this one, and I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did. There are lots of pearls of wisdom inside.
Meroë Candy is a story research and production consultant for film and television drama. We delve extensively into what that entails and what that research looks like. But essentially Meroë provides assistance to writers and producers in world-building, uncovering true stories, story-lining and connecting and coordinating experts from the scientific, historic and medicinal fields to the film industry.
Prior to this she worked at the Wellcome Trust, the UK’s largest private foundation where she built their film and broadcast drama programme and also devised their Screenwriting Fellowship in partnership with Film4 and the BFI. During this time she commissioned and developed over 30 scripts and served as an exec producer on 5 major film productions including Craig Roberts’ Eternal Beauty, Clio Barnard’s Dark River, Paddy Considine’s Journeyman and Rachel Tunnard’s Adult Life Skills.
We talk about her transition from Wellcome to freelance work, how and where she does her research, and also what scientists and storytellers can offer each other.
Hello podpals and welcome back to Best Girl Grip; the mini lockdown edition.
It’s been a crazy and stressful and unprecedented time, I feel like all adjectives have been exhausted and at that the same time like the language doesn’t exist to fully articulate what this is and what it feels like. I’m also really aware of pandemic saturation, it definitely feels like we’re past the point of no return when in comes to the overwhelming amount of content that is available for us to consume, with this supposed surplus of time and I’m really conscious of adding even more noise to that.
However, I have decided to put out a mini quarantine edition. Firstly for selfish purposes because the interviews have always been about connecting with women in this industry and just enjoying the simple art of conversation with them, and I’m particularly craving that at the moment. And secondly, this is a great time to talk to women from all over the UK that being London-based, I might not usually have the chance to. And finally, if this edition can offer people in the film industry a sense of affinity or kinship, or just the sense no-one is working to their full capacity, everyone is juggling, maybe struggling or re-evaluating, then to me it’s totally worthwhile adding just a little bit to the noise.
I’m really happy to say I’ve got my first duo on the podcast in the form of Rosie Crerar and Ciara Barry who formed their production company barry crerar in 2016 and are based in Glasgow in Scotland.
They’re a relatively young company but already they have a number of exciting titles on their slate, and rather excitingly they’re releasing a film they co-produced called Run next week, which is directed by Scott Graham, a filmmaker I really adore and who you’ll hear me enthuse about during the interview. His previous two features Shell and Iona, the latter featuring Ruth Negga are really intense and poignant set in remote landscapes, which I highly recommend you check out.
It was wonderful to talk to Rosie and Ciara about their ambitions for the company and their desire to tell contemporary and cutting edge stories that originate from Scotland, but have universal appeal. As well as the advantages of working together, how they came to set up the company and how they balance responsibilities. We do touch up on lockdown and how that’s changed their day-to-day and whether they’ve learnt anything from the experience. Not that that’s a requisite, surviving it is enough.
Run is a gutsy and gripping drama about thwarted dreams, masculinity and small-town living, and it will be available to download from Monday 25th May from all the usual platforms.
Lizzie is someone I’ve wanted on the podcast for a while. In fact when I first started this project whilst working at the BFI, I was always sort of biding my time slash working up the courage to ask her.
And then serendipitously I was asked to do a live show at Glasgow, where two films that Lizzie had exec’d were showing and it seemed like exactly the right moment.
She’s sort of the perfect guest for Best Girl Grip – not that perfection exists – but in terms of the expansive career she’s had from journalism to programming to being the Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival to production to execing over 50 feature films at the BFI and working with renowned filmmakers such as Joanna Hogg, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Andrew Haigh, Pawel Pawlikowski and Mike Leigh, I love that her career has taken many different directions and it was such a pleasure to interrogate how she chartered that path.
Thank you so much for listening to this season, whether you joined me since October when I released the episodes recorded in Toronto, which feels like lifetime and an epoch ago, or if you jumped on the bandwagon more recently, I hope you liked what you’ve heard so far. I’ve been thrilled and awed and galvanised by the people I’ve managed to interview, and it remains my favourite part of doing this podcast. So I’m looking forward to seeing what season three bring in that respect.
This week I interviewed Roxana Adle, a talent agent at Independent Talent. Her clients include some really exciting filmmakers such as Alma Har’el, Eva Husson, Aneil Karia, Remi Weekes, Mahalia Belo and Georgia Parris, among many others.
It was really exciting to delve into this side of the industry for the first time and ask Roxana about how she spots talent, how she supports her clients and works with them, whether its at all competitive and what her ambitions are as an agent.
I have to give you a heads up that the sound recording quality on this one isn’t the best, and I deeply apologise for that. It’s still a learning process for me and I hope you don’t find it too painful to listen to.
This week’s episode is tinged with a bit of sadness. I recorded it with Sanne Jehoul, co-director of the Glasgow Short Film Festival, whilst visiting the Glasgow Film Festival two weeks ago, ahead of their 2020 edition which was due to kick off tomorrow. Unfortunately coronavirus has waylaid those plans and the festival has been postponed until later in the year.
It’s a tricky but necessary decision, and my thoughts are with Sanne and the whole festival team, whose hard work will have to wait to be rewarded. I decided to put this episode out anyway, because I think it’s still very timely given that festivals around the world are having to postpone or move online to hear what goes into the organisation and execution.
Sanne joined the Glasgow Short Film Festival in 2014 and worked her way up to the position of Co-Direction. She is also a programmer and producer of Document Human Rights Film Festival and freelances as a writer, conversation host and curator. She also sits on the advisory board of Femspectives, a feminist film festival in Glasgow.
We talk about the process of selecting films for the festival, how they support filmmakers, what excites her about Scottish talent, the expanding short film landscape and some recent highlights in her career. Its heartbreaking having heard Sanne talk so ardently about her work on the festival to think that it won’t be going ahead right now, but it will be back and with Sanne and her team at the forefront I’ve no doubt it will be with a bang.
On a similar note, I hope wherever you are self-isolating, you’re doing ok. Now is definitely a really difficult for freelance creatives, filmmakers and crewspeople and the film industry at large, and more than ever we need to be connected, so setup that Whatsapp group, get on the phone, Skype a friend or peer or colleague and stay energised, stay healthy and most of all, watch all those films you’ve been meaning to get around to.
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.