Giles Alderson was joined on the podcast this week by the team behind Confession. Writer-director David Beton, producer Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar and DOP Andrew Rodger.
David said that in the beginning, lockdown was a novelty, but after a few weeks, he needed some kind of normal and needed to do something creative.
“Part of that, for me, was to get up in the morning, go to my computer and work. So I decided that I needed to write a film.
Confession was a project that had been in the back of my mind for a couple of years. I had an idea for a movie about a guy in a confession box, confessing some terrible things that he’d done for the right reasons. And that was all I had. But this made me sit down and write this movie.”
The first draft was written in two weeks.
His Writing Process
“It’s very structured, my writing process. I will formulate an idea. It could be something in my mind bubbling for a couple of days, a couple of weeks or the idea for Confession is a couple of years. I had the idea stored, but I’d never fleshed it out.”
Before writing begins, David makes sure that he has a “solid outline. An outline is my recipe for the meal. Once I’ve got my recipe, I can start cooking. And when I cook, I can add extra ingredients as I go along, but I have a recipe to guide me.”
Some people are able to ‘free write’, but without structure, David says that his writing falls down.
“ I’d say 60% of the time I’ll stick to it. I don’t always stick to it because when you’re a creative person you want to let the creative stuff take over a bit. But as long as I’ve got a guideline of what I’m working towards that’s my safety blanket.”
The Director/ DP Relationship
Andrew knows “pretty quickly when you talk to a director for the first time if you’re going to be able to work with them, and I got on with David straight away.
There’s a thing with directors sometimes: they’ll be all about the actors and have no visual idea. And sometimes they’ve got a really strong vision. But the nice thing with David was that he had really good ideas visually and was really collaborative about it.”
For David, the key point was that “if the camera’s not moving, it’s not working. That was my mantra with this film. It’s an intense thriller, but it’s born out of conversations. It was always about how can we keep every scene as intense and visually beautiful as possible.
If you’re not keeping it looking good and feeling tense, it can be boring. Every scene was a mini-story: with a beginning, middle and end. There’s a climactic point in each scene and the camera would move to distinguish those climactic points.”
That’s how I approached every scene. To make sure that they were as intense as possible. And there’s no fat on this film. You don’t have a moment to breathe. This movie doesn’t have VFX or CGI. The actors and the camera do the talking. And it’s cut in a way that gives you that tension.”
Getting Financiers On Board
“David and I had discussed the film and who the best financiers were to partner up with on this project. We went out to lots of different people, and Dave and I wanted to sit very comfortably knowing that this was a special project that we were making together.
We wanted it to live with the right people that would back us and let us do what we wanted to do with it creatively. And let Dave put his flair on it without staunching the process.”
Lucinda had sent the script off to a lot of different financiers. “We had already got the interest before we’d got the cast, but it did help move it along quicker. We wanted to get moving rather than sit back and decide who we wanted to place the project with.
So we went ahead and cast the project. We went with Signature because I’d worked with them before, David’s worked with them before. We get on very well with them.”
The Business of Filmmaking
For any new filmmakers, David suggests looking at both sides of the picture. “Whenever you are wanting to put a project together, you have to look at it from a financiers point of view. The first thing they will look at before they give you any money, is what is the worst-case scenario? What can I lose?
Because what some filmmakers forget is that above everything, it’s a business. And if the business doesn’t make money long term, there’s no longer a business, there’s no longer money.”
David says that he has always approached filmmaking by coming up with a project that is artistically fulfilling but also producer and financier friendly.
“There are two ways of doing that. IP or a massive story that people know. Or it has a massive cast name. When you’re operating on an independent level, you need to try to get the best names you can and make the script commercially viable.”
Want more? Listen to David, Lucinda and Andrew here.