RELEASE OF FILM
Andy and I are now happy to release the film for general viewing so see below. However it carries a health warning – Emmi is a dark drama about 4 women in a block of flats over 1 night and is based on a newspaper article I read in 1993 which haunted me. It is a film I would like to see used as a catalyst for discussion especially amongst 6th formers.
I’m very proud to add this award from ScreenTalk for best short Oxfordshire Film 2019. As well as being nominated in over 20 festivals, Emmi was also voted as the audience choice award at the London Rolling Film Festival in 2017 and as best Drama for the Oniros June award in 2017.
BEGINNINGS – THE SCRIPT GETS CHOSEN
I brought the script of Emmi to a Film Oxford Production Group meeting where people voted which film they wanted to be involved in. Emmi was one of 4 successful ones. At that event I met Andy Carslaw who eventually became the director of the film and who carried the same vision for it as I did. He has also become a good friend 🙂
FROM DRAFT TO FINAL VERSION
Emmi is only 10 minutes long but I wrote at least 10 drafts, most of them more like 15-20 minutes long. People liked it but felt it was too dark so I wrote versions which were ‘happier’ or offered alternative endings in the style of the film ‘Sliding Doors’ with Gwyneth Paltrow.
We raised some money by putting on an evening called ‘Grim Shorts’ with films, food and music (what’s not to like?!). Other than that Andy and I split the costs
(thanks to my mum for her contribution). It cost us around £1000 to make this film.
THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
Andy and I decided to pay for the actresses, auditioned and were delighted to find Natalie Martins, Amy Harris, Gillian Kirkpatrick and Rachel Pooley (all from London). Thank you to all of you! Also thank to the whole team who supported this, supplied with food and tea and lovely cakes from Laura!
Finding the different venues to film was a challenge. The underpass scene is filmed by the mini plant at Cowley and it really is as unpleasant as it looks. Film Oxford helped us get the required permissions to film there and I was given the job of filling out the risk assessment forms which I had no idea about but in the end found quite amusing: eg, there was the possibility of the ‘public tripping or bumping into equipment or cast’ – the answer was to film early in the morning and have someone on look-out for ‘the public’.
Our ‘hoodies’ all looked too nice so Diego Carvalho our wonderful make-up man transformed them. He’s more interested in zombie films but very kindly supported our project!
Finding a dodgy looking staircase that we could film in was harder than you might think. The one we found had a skylight that needed covering so Danny, one of our cameramen got onto the roof and managed to cover it without the caretaker seeing. We then had to film in a very tight space with a camera crew, 3 actresses, a baby and a cat.
Baby Isis, was totally at peace with everyone, sitting happily with her mother as loud swearing boomed out. The cat was a delight but tended to disappear to the bottom of the stairwell when it had had enough.
At one point we discovered we only had the half the time we were expecting to film and this sent Andy into hyperspace. A manic look came into his eyes and all extra niceties got stripped. I was struck by the level of creativity that emerged when we needed suddenly to have a set of locks or a wallpapered hall (particular thanks to Adam Radley and Alex Abbey-Taylor!)
We needed to film outside a ‘grubby’ block of flats but it was all too neat. Members of the crew disappeared and with frightening speed returned with a mass of detritus: old fridges, mattresses, bags of rubbish. The caretaker was not happy!
We spent 3 wonderful, funny and exhausting days filming – 3 days for a 10-minute short! Thank you everyone involved for making it a pleasure.
Nothing happened then for 18 months (!) because no-one had time to do the editing and we didn’t want to pay someone huge amounts. Also, we couldn’t decide which bits to cut and which to keep. In the end Andy went on an intense editing weekend, came back and pared the film down to its bones. I’d been busily coming up with complicated alternatives but when he showed it me all I could say was ‘Shit! You’re right!’ And he was.
We did pay for some post production with the sound and Kevin from Oxford Audio Post Production did us a great deal. This was very important as some of the sound is dodgy especially that filmed on the staircase.
COMPETITIONS and HIGHLIGHTS
We had a lot fun entering competitions – It’s very addictive and ends up costing a lot of money so beware! Andy and I knew that this was never going to be a crowd pleaser so we’ve been really delighted by the number of nominations we’ve received for competitions and the awards we gained.
A highlight was Southampton Film Festival where our film was shown alongside the now Oscar nominated “Silent Child” about a deaf child. It is utterly beautiful. Watch it. The festival took place over a weekend where we watched films, were taken on a ‘ghost’ tour of the city and mixed with other film makers at a 3-course dinner. Such a pleasure!
I have ideas for other films, just need the time and connections to make them happen. I’ve been told to write something funny this time! My idea of a funny film is a dark humour piece about someone stalking a planning officer after having their planning permission refused over and over again…
I also want to write a mythic piece called ‘The Linden Tree’ and a sort of psycho/zombie horror piece which I literally dreamt about. I have material for a TV series something on the lines of ‘Rev’ about a church I was part of that slept the homeless and I’d like to do a tele-documentary about the awkward 18 year friendship I had with someone who suffered from serious mental health issues. I started as a naive do-gooder, became frustrated with him and myself and then discovered he’d become a friend and was shaken with grief when he died last year.
If you’re a producer/director, you’re interested and you and have some access to funds, let me know!