Episode 014: Harry Wootliff

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Way back in February I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Wootliff, a writer and director whose debut feature film Only You premiered at the BFI London Film Festival last year was also recently shortlisted for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award. Harry’s first short film Nits was BAFTA-nominated and premiered in official selection at Director’s Fortnight in Cannes.

We talk about self-belief when you’re first starting out as a writer, visual storytelling, coming up with ideas and directing for TV versus directing for film.

Only You will have a preview screening on the 4th May at the Barbican in London, and will include a screentalk with Harry, so I definitely recommend getting tickets for that and the film will be released later this year by Curzon.

Show notes:

  • The book Harry bought when she first started directing
  • Jerwood Arts Prize
  • The Bureau – the film company that helped develop, finance and produce Only You, there other credits include Lean on Pete, Daphne and 45 Years
  • Last year Harry was on the shortlist for the IWC Schaffhausen bursary, the biggest funding grant of its kind in the UK
  • Deep Water, the six-part ITV drama starring Anna Friel will be Harry’s next directorial venture

Episode 013: Síle Culley

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So for this week, I spoke to Síle Culley who is a Theatrical Sales Executive at Altitude Films and former colleague Episode Five guest Delphine Lievens. She is mind bogglingly knowledgable about the part of the industry in which she works and has lots of insightful nuggets for you to snack on. And stats, expects some stats.

Síle joined Altitude in 2017, after having working in production management and event cinema, and talks about her path into the industry from hometown in Dublin to her recent trip to Berlin for the festival’s talents programme, as well as enlightening me as to what theatrical sales actually entails (hint: they’re the people that book the films into cinemas!)

Síle is incredibly determined and actually quite inspirational in how focused she is in pursuit of her goals. I did this interview at the end of quite a long day and I was feeling pretty tired, but I came away from our chat feeling really renewed and invigorated, so I hope you do too. It’s like the podcast version of an exfoliator.

I should also mention that Altitude have a bevy of brilliant releases either currently out in cinemas, or coming very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those. They include:

  • Being Frank, a documentary about the life of maverick Manchester comedian Frank Sidebottom and his hidden creator Chris Sievey which is out now in cinemas.
  • Mid 90s, Jonah Hill’s directorial debut about a 13-year-old kid in 90s LA who ingratiates himself with a skateboarding crew, that’s coming to cinemas this very Friday and I 100% recommend it.
  • And lastly but by no means least is Beats, also set in the 90s about two Scottish friends who go on one final rave before heading their separate ways. That’ll be dropping in UK and Irish cinemas on May 17.

Show notes

Episode 012: Jo Duncombe

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My guest this week is Jo Duncombe, whose CV as you will shortly find out is a bit ridiculous.

She is currently Shorts Programme Manager at the British Council, and continues to curate and consult at Bird’s Eye View – championing new cinema created by women with nationwide touring programmes. Previous roles include being a film programmer at the Independent Cinema Office, as well as Programme Director at the London Short Film Festival.

In 2015, Jo co-founded The Quarter Club – a network for women working in the creative industries – where she curates quarterly Salons with her best mate Saskia. Jo has worked as an impact release strategist and fundraiser on documentaries including A Syrian Love Story and Even When I Fall.

Jo and I chat about her various roles across these organisation, as well as what living on a boat is like and her very cool side hustle.

I’m a bit in awe of Jo, and how much she does, and I’ve known about her work – at least on a surface level – for a good few years, so it was a real pleasure to dig deeper and hear about how she got into programming. Jo is completely lovely and I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Show notes

Episode 011: Jude Lister

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This week I have a very special bonus minisode to share with you. Applications for the 2019 edition of iFeatures are currently open until 9am on Friday 29 March 2019, so Jude Lister, Creative England’s Film Project Manager came on the podcast to talk about the evolution of IFeatures and what they look for in an application.

Jude manages programmes for new and emerging UK film talent, including the professional development strand of low budget feature filmmaking scheme iFeatures and the short film initiative shortFLIX, aimed at young people aged 18-25. Prior to joining Creative England she worked for Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol. Jude has also run international filmmaking workshops, screening programmes and short film competitions for NISI MASA – European Network of Young Cinema, as well as editing ‘zines covering film festivals all over the world.

If you’re looking to apply to the scheme, which has incubated and invested in films such as Apostasy, Lad Macbeth, God’s own Country, The Levelling, The Goob, Adult Life Skills and Pin Cushion then I definitely recommend you give this a listen.

Show notes

Episode 010: Loran Dunn

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The podcast is officially in its double digits, which is mad but exciting. They grow up so fast don’t they?

And for this episode, I’ve got a wonderful guest in the form of Loran Dunn. Loran is a BFI Vision Award winning producer with a background in production on BBC Dramas, independent features and major music promos and is also an Associate Lecturer in Filmmaking at Manchester Metropolitan University, a Development Mentor at Channel 4’s Random Acts North, and a Producer for Shortflix – which we come to discuss.

Loran’s first feature film as a producer was A Deal With the Universe, an autobiographical documentary from transgender filmmaker Jason Barker telling the story of a very different kind of pregnancy, through the lens of personal archives and home video diaries. The film had its world premiere on March 26 at the 2018 BFI Flare Festival. 

I really loved our conversation because we got into the nitty gritty of producing, like how you create a budget, what pitching your project is like, the public funding landscape and how Loran actually makes a living. We also talked about grander concepts like revolutionising and diversifying the industry, as well as empowering young people to make their own work and being yourself.

Show notes

Episode 009: Jordan McGarry

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So for this week’s episode, I did my first out of office recording and went to the lovely Film London offices in Finsbury Park for a causerie with Jordan McGarry. I have to say all my guests so far have been big wins for me, and Jordan continues that trend. I think she’s a force in the industry and to have lured her away from a very important job for an hour to talk about mentors, music videos and making short films was sheer heaven.

Jordan is responsible for Film London’s production and talent development strategy, as well its range of training initiatives.Before Film London, she spent five years as Director of Curation at Vimeo, leading the team that programmed the site’s illustrious Staff Picks channel for a monthly audience of 200m visitors. Jordan had also paid her dues as a journalist, in festival programming, video commissioning and as an executive producer at Partizan London.

Spoiler alert my favourite part of the chat is when we talk about cultivating relationships as the key to achieving a fulfilling career and just getting out in the world and being interested.

This was a supremely brilliant chat. Do forgive the occasional kitchen sink clinking and background chatter. Frankly I included it on purpose to convey the vibrant ambience of Film London’s office.

Show notes:

Episode 008: Beccy Ashdown

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This week, I’ve got another glorious guest in the form of Beccy Ashdown. I first came across Beccy and the work that she does at Together Films at the Open City Documentary Festival in 2017, where Beccy spoke about social change and the role or responsibility of documentary filmmakers within that. I knew then that she occupied a very unique position in the industry, as someone that straddles the world of film but also politics and non for profits and as someone that can speak to changing models or approaches to distribution.

Beccy is Campaign Director at Together Films, a marketing and distribution agency that offer bespoke solutions and strategies for films looking to reach a particular audience, particularly in the realm of issues or topics that have the ability to spark conversation and positive change.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Beccy agreed to come on the pod and it came as no surprise that there was lots to talk about. Beccy has had an incredible and varied career, working for the likes of BBC, Amnesty,  BFI and TIFF and I think she’s testament to the idea that just because you don’t start out in the field you have an interest in, or can even identify that field doesn’t mean you can’t navigate and learn your way into a fulfilling career.

Frankly I felt very fulfilled and seen by this chat. We spoke about working freelance, but not putting the free into freelance, approaching people you admire (including that time Beccy wrote to Louis Theroux) and having a network of friends that can champion you to you.

Show notes:

Episode 007: Emma Duffy

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Starting her career assisting directors and producing shorts in Australia, Emma returned to London where she worked for the BFI and Film London, as well as producing commercials, music videos and shorts, including Oysters which was commissioned as part of London Calling Plus in 2016.

Emma has previously taken part in the Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab and the Mini Meet Market at DocFest, and was selected for this year’s Birds Eye View Filmonomics scheme. As well as producing her own projects she also works on film and drama projects for the Wellcome Trust, bringing writers, researchers and ideas together.

In this episode, we talk about producing her first feature, Mari, which premiered at the 2018 London Film Festival, the mantra she uses to keep things in perspective, how she overcame on-set obstacles, the differences between a producer and an exec producer credit and why you should send difficult emails before lunch!

Show notes:

Episode 006: Caragh Davison

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This week I also spoke to BFI NETWORK co-ordinator, Forever Young Film Club programmer and all-round brilliant person Caragh Davison.

Caragh works across all of BFI NETWORK’s new talent film funding and professional development activity across the UK. She first joined the Film Fund in March 2017 as Executive Assistant to Ben Roberts and the Senior Production & Development Execs. Previously, she was working as an assistant at Creative England and before that spent two years as a Content Producer at a production company, working across short film and web content.

This was a joyous chat about soaking up knowledge at every opportunity, starting out in the industry when you don’t know anyone in it, the value of teen cinema and why there’s no shame in watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before more than three time.

Show notes:


Episode 005: Delphine Lievens

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This week I spoke to Delphine Lievens, who I was introduced to via Grace Barber-Plentie, of episode two fame.  Both Delphine and Grace worked at Altitude Film Distribution and now Delphine works in box office analytics.

We had a really lovely chat about a whole side of film I haven’t really touched on in the pod before, from data and how that can inform when a film is released, to trends in cinema and why a film might under-perform at the box office. Delphine speaks really eloquently and knowledgeably about the theatrical release landscape and it was a real insight and joy to sit down with her.  

Show notes: