This week, Dom Lenoir talks about Three Day Millionaire with Jack Spring and Giles Alderson. They sat down during their cinema run to chat about their journey and how they made the film.
And to start it off… They really recommend a Q&A cinema tour for filmmakers. ‘If you’ve got a film released, even if you literally tour the country, cinemas will have you.’
The Cinema Tour
Dom, who helped to plan the tour, said that although it started out as being really challenging. ‘I had to sort so many different venues and so many different moving pieces. But it became a lot easier once we had some foundations.’
Working with a Script as a Producer
‘As a producer, I instantly think, how can we do this well? I’m thinking about the practicalities of it. I read that script in a totally different sense. I’m still reading it as a viewer but as soon as I’ve done that, I go do I want to work with the people behind it?
It’s then a case of how do you practically put this together?’ How many locations are needed, how much will it cost, and how will you move cast and crew around?
‘I’m usually reading the scripts once stuff is already established. The producer hat, you’re thinking about money – about saving money; and you’re thinking about the practicalities, like how many days to shoot it.’
Jack’s Script Analysis
Once the money is available, Jack starts about 10 – 12 weeks of script analysis and about 6 weeks of storyboarding. ‘I draw them out for the whole film. Literally, snowmen because it’s just about working it out for yourself. What shots do I need to cover? etc’ It helps Jack to find the style of the film and gives the DP something to look at and work with.
‘And with that, my extent to the visual input is done, really. But script analysis, on the other hand, is 60% of my job. It’s where you make the decisions on how you’re going to direct the scenes. As a director, you’re a professional problem solver – in the process of solving scenes emotionally.
And your intuitive read is probably quite close to what you end up doing, but you solve it emotionally and then put it into how you’re going to direct the actors; and make it a playable direction rather than you’re sad here, you’re happy here.’
Jack’s Book Recommendations
‘I read two books. I read one before I directed Destination: Dewsbury, my first feature film. It is called Directing Actors by Judith Weston. And The Film Director’s Intuition.
I started making films when I was 13, so I always knew what I wanted for myself. But the bit I struggled with, not being an actor, was how to communicate what was going on in my head. Reading the two books taught me what playable direction is. And helped me work out how to harvest that from a script and be prepped.’
Making a Film about Grimsby
The film is set, shot and financed in Grimsby, ‘in every single frame. It’s where all my dad’s side of the family are from.’
Jack wanted to show how wonderful the town was and to have as many local people as he could involved in the film.
‘The negative of Grimsby, when we were filming there, is that if you’re a professional in the film/ TV world, you probably don’t live in Grimsby; but we really did get everyone involved as was humanly possible. And one of the things that makes me proud is the number of kids that did work on our film that have now gone on, within a year, to do pretty cool shit.’
Keeping it Local
They also decided to keep it local by focusing on local investors.
Giles says ‘if you live in a tiny place, in the middle of nowhere, find investors near you. Investors can come from anywhere in the film industry. If you are going to head to a big city to find your investors, why would they put money into your film? Whereas in your area, you are a local filmmaker.’
His tip for approaching investors? ‘Never ask someone directly for money. Don’t ever go, hey, would you like to invest in my film? It just doesn’t work. What you say is, do you know anyone who might like to invest in my film?’
When they’re out with friends, they might say ‘I was talking about a film. Do you want to invest in it? And the friend turns to that person and says are you investing? Now you’ve potentially got two investors. It’s so important that you ask anyone who’s doing well in their business.’
Learning the Business (Money) Side of Filmmaking
And Jack’s finance advice? Learn about the money side of it. ‘Because otherwise, you’ll just get stuck. You’ll get to a point in your short film world where you need money because you want to make a feature and you get stuck waiting for a producer to come and do it.’
Producers are less likely to want to work on budget-level films. They’re more likely to focus on getting work where they’re raising millions of pounds on a job because those films ‘have a higher chance of making money.’
Jack was really lucky to have been taught by a ‘producer and director duo how to raise money. And that changed my life. I always try and teach kids the same thing, but as creatives, we’re resistant to any mention of having to raise money. And it is so sad to see so many people just get stuck because they expect something else to happen.’
For more from Jack and Giles, listen here.