This week, we brought (most of) our hosts together to look back at 300 episodes.
Giles Alderson, Dom Lenoir, Christian James, Phil Hawkins, Matthew Butler-Hart, Tori Butler-Hart & Tobias Vees discuss what they’ve learnt from podcast guests, how they choose their projects, indie film audiences, and more.
What the Hosts Learnt From the Guests
While Matthew loves pretty-looking films – ‘we can make things as pretty and amazing as we’d like, but as Stephen Fry said, the dynamic tension of a scene is, at the end of the day, in the actor’s eyes. That’s the magic.’
CJ thought that Michael Rohl ‘was really fascinating – to see the amount of passion he brought to what could be a very pedestrian project.’
‘The fact is there is so much work for us as filmmakers and we can carve out a great career by being filmmakers, you don’t necessarily have to be a name.’
Phil thinks ‘what’s been nice is how humbling it’s been to listen to different filmmakers at different experience levels. All share a common ground which is really interesting. We all go through the same struggles. We all feel the same way. We all feel like outsiders. And we’re all going through the same challenges.’
For Tobi, ‘coming from a country that doesn’t really have much of a film industry. you often feel on your own. And what I’ve learnt through the podcast, and speaking to other filmmakers, is that sense of community and that nobody actually needs to be alone.’
Finding Fresh Ideas
‘Here’s where I think filmmakers thrive and can make a difference within this world. If you’ve got a fresh idea, if you’ve got something that is being told in a certain way but has a fresh spin on it, people take that into consideration.
People are less likely to be interested ‘if you say, I’ve got this idea when you pitch and someone goes that’s similar to… But if you go in there and you’ve got a fresh idea they go, hang on, that’s interesting. You’ve hooked your investors.’
Giles says that it’s important to not be afraid. ‘Do something that is different because your investors will want to be part of that. Or the studio, or producers or your director, whoever you are trying to get on board.’
Working With the Right People
‘Quite often we get sent brilliant scripts that I read and go, I’d love to make this, but it’s going to cost upwards of… And actually, right now for us, we’re not the right people for it,’ says Tori.
Sometimes though it just boils down to what you like and what you don’t like, whether you connect or whether you’re the right person for the project.’
How Phil Chooses Projects
‘There’s the money perspective and career-wise, what film to do next but also feeling the excitement and passion when you read something.
I have to have that buzz straight away. Because your first two or three reads of a script are your most honest appraisal of the project.’
Phil says that he always tries to write down his initial thoughts after the first read of a script. The things that jump out to him ‘and I’ve got to have that buzz. You’ve got to really love it or you just run out of passion to tell it.’
Keeping Well On Set
The hosts discussed exercising and keeping good company when working in films, because, as Dom says, ‘your well-being is so incredibly important. I personally would rather not work with people I don’t want to work with, just not make a film and the same with something I’m not passionate about.’
Dom says his ‘way of dealing with that is to produce, I produce stuff so I can be involved but I don’t have to do stuff that I’m not sure about or work with people I’m not sure about.
You’ve got to be happy whilst you are creating all these amazing stories.’
Managing The Demand From Set
The one thing CJ was never prepared for was ‘the fallout from the demand on set. You’re on set and you get an insane amount of questions and requests throughout the day.’
If it’s a commercial – one or two days – it’s manageable, ‘but if it’s a bigger project, it’s really hard to.
I have this thing, at the end of the day, where I’ve got nothing left. I’ve given it everything, my brain is still firing at this rhythm and I can’t turn it off. I go home or back to my hotel and I need to sleep and in my pre-sleep I’m back on set being asked the questions.’
Want more? Listen to the whole 300th episode here.