On this week’s podcast, Giles Alderson and Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar chatted to the indie writer, director, and producer Alex Noyer. He chatted about Clubhouse of Horror – where he is on the panel, about making documentaries, how his documentaries led him into his short film, and ultimately into his debut film Sound of Violence.

Clubhouse of Horror

Clubhouse has been a saving grace for many filmmakers over the lockdown period, allowing them to meet, engage and discuss filmmaking with other filmmakers.

“Things happen on these places and you’ve got to be in it to win it. You’ve got to be involved,” said Giles.

Alex agreed saying that “during the pandemic, it was so hard for filmmakers to network. We didn’t have film markets. Emerging filmmakers didn’t get that first experience of a film market at this critical point in their careers. This is where Clubhouse became this really interesting platform. People interact and talk to people they wouldn’t get a chance to talk to at a film market.”

The Clubhouse of Horror team started a room for those wanting to focus on shorts to features. 

“This young filmmaker came up and we always say no pitching – because you have no protection and you don’t know who’s listening, plus it’s not really why we’re here, but this guy brought up an issue. 

He had a short ready to go and essentially had all his funding in place, but a thousand bucks.”

There were a few producers on the stage, including Sebastian Bazile “and they looked at his Instagram, which had good pictures of what he was shooting – because the guy was a DP. So the work looked really slick.”

Two of the producers invested and the short is amazing. But Alex said that the point is that wouldn’t happen, so instantly, at a film market.

“And I think that’s what is amazing about that platform. If you can speak well, and you care about this industry and you have ideas, then people will take you on board. And this is what’s happened because they’re joining a conversation.”

Documentaries to Film

Alex has been a producer for 17 years and most of it was as a producer of documentaries. His documentary career culminated with “a music documentary called 808, which is about the TR-808 drum machine. It took five years of my life, essentially. And it was the biggest documentary I’ve ever produced. And definitely one of the biggest music documentaries over the last 10 years.

Everything was drum machine-related. I was drum machine obsessed, but I was exhausted as far as documentaries were concerned. I couldn’t see myself producing another massive music one like that. And my wife turned around and said maybe it’s time for you to switch to horror.”

Alex started writing for a couple of projects and started working on a feature that he thought would be his directorial debut, but it was delayed. During a family holiday, while reminiscing about 808 and his drum machine obsession, he had a lightbulb moment, and that was where Conductor was born.

“It was also because I was switching seats from producer to director. I felt that it might help the project that I was pushing at the time. And it was a moment for me to just use something I knew very well. That’s advice we give to short film writers: use something you really care about. The short was supposed to just be a short to prove to myself as much as to everybody else that I could direct and to get going.”

The short toured festivals and won awards. And there was a lot of interest in the elusive main character, so Alex wrote the feature and raised about a third of the budget. “Things were really organically happening”.

From Conductor to Sound of Violence

The film was developed because of the script. Alex said that “the first draft came out in January 2019. And I started to reach out to private investors who I had interacted with before. And the short ended up being a proof of concept.”

When Alex started his company in 2004, he had been focused on commercials, which meant that he did a lot of pitching. He used some of the skills that he’d learned from those days to raise finance.

“I got private investors to commit to it and that got us started. And then by the time it was Cannes in 2019, I had the script, which was still called Conductor. It was more of a horror movie than a thriller. But another piece of advice I give is that you have one sentence to pitch your movie.

You’ll get quick yeses and nos, or a quick sense of interest or not. I went around with the sentence and that got me a Producer’s Network Breakfast. I got follow-up meetings by giving them that pitch. It just kind of escalated. And we showed the movie in November 2019.”

Final Words of Wisdom

Giles and Alex discussed how networking in the indie industry is vital. Doing a podcast, going on Clubhouse, and reaching out to other filmmakers can really help.

Alex said that as an indie filmmaker, “if we don’t help each other, it’s very obnoxious. There’s no downside to helping other filmmakers. It’s a competitive business, but I don’t believe that anybody’s taking anybody’s seat unless it’s literally somebody being picked for the same project. Helping another movie happen doesn’t take anything away from your film.”

Listen to more from Alex Noyer here.

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