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.
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.