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Believe - Richard Addlesee

on Tuesday, 26 March 2013.


Q1: Tell us about yourself. What's your background and how did you get into film-making?

I’m 29. I originally come from the dreaded town of Scunthorpe but have been living between Greater Manchester and the Lake District for the past 6-7 years now. I was never any good at school failing almost everything I studied, then went to college to retake some things, got into media studies and photography, dropped out, got a job, went travelling then about 8 years later decided I wanted to study something at University. I went to the University of Bolton to study their Media, Writing and Production degree course. Originally I went with the intention of becoming a writer for TV but quickly became interested in the production side of things. I tried to throw myself into any project I could but that was difficult because I was working full time at my night job and also in the 3rd year I foolishly decided to do two dissertations at the same time, a feature length script and a short film.
After finishing Uni I kept in touch with a few people I’d met, as well as a lot of the Manchester based indie film makers and again have been throwing myself into projects, helping out here and there while trying to find the time/money/energy to work on my own shorts.

Q2: Tell us about 'Believe' Where did the idea for the film come from?

‘Believe’ was actually the very first thing I wrote when I first started Uni. We were given the task of writing a one page script without any dialogue, so I came up with Believe. Drawing on some inspiration I’d gotten from a few bits of internet art, comic strips and an anime that I used to be into. The script had been stuck in the back of my head for years but I was convinced I could never make it the way I wanted to. It wasn’t until years later after I’d made a few things and hung around with the write people that I started to work out the difficult parts and the whole short slowly came into place.
Q3: How was the film cast? Did you have actors in mind for each role or was the process more flexible?

The casting process was pretty simple actually, I’m good friends with every person in the film. The little girl, Lucy Young, is the daughter of my friend, an actor and teacher Marc Young who also plays the father. His partner Samantha Deas plays the mother, so it was a relatively easy cast to work with. The homeless man is actually the producer George Makin, and the two blink-and-you’ll-miss-them yobs in the tunnel are my friend Jamie Coles and myself. I had originally thought of doing a massive casting session, but finding a child actor with the flexibility of going half way up the country to Edinburgh for a weekend shoot was almost impossible. I’m so very grateful that Marc, Sammy and Lucy had the patience and trust to put up with me.

Q4: Is the filming process very different when you rely a lot on CGI for one of your main shots?

Yes and no, we started the pre-production for the film about 5 months before we shot the first take, during that time I’d have regular meetings with Mark Baron the cinematographer and Paul Willis the SFX artist and colourist. Once we had determined which shots would have SFX in them we would slave over the story boards, do pre-comps, small shot tests etc until we knew exactly what was needed. The harder elements were extra SFX we hadn’t thought about, in some shots we had to replace the sky. In others we had to do matte paintings to block out roads and cars, making the city of Edinburgh look deserted.

Q5: How dose filming with a child actress differ from working with adults?

Patience. You need a monumental amount of patience, but also you have to realize that you are working with the most amazing people on the planet, children. Their enthusiasm and imagination is just amazing so you have to capture that. And the odd sneaky bag of sweets here and there works wonders. I think one of the harder elements of the shoot was trying to keep Lucy from becoming bored on set and thus giving up the ghost. For one of the scenes we shot in a small park, so between takes, after a VERY quick scramble of words with Mark and Paul I’d spend the next 5 minutes playing on the swings with Lucy, or attempting pull ups on the monkey bars. Anything to keep her entertained and happy to be there. Also the park scene was were we used a two camera set up, one on ground level for a dolly shot, the other, manned by our producer George, who was sent up the side of Arthur’s Seat (the large mountain) with a zoom lens. We had to maximize our time with Lucy to the fullest so thinking out our shots well in advance was crucial. 

Q6: Do you have any advice for aspiring film-makers?

Throw yourselves into your projects. Try not to let things get in the way, it’s hard to say that when you have a full time job or a family to look after but you really do have to dedicate a large amount of your time and energy to what you are working on. Work with others, try not to do every single last job on your own. Find people that have the same passion you have, with diverse skills and stick to them like glue. I met Mark, Paul, Jamie and George at University 5-6 years ago and continue to work with them to this day.

Q7: How do you feel the film industry is changing? Particularly with regards to technology, social media etc.

It’s getting easier to produce and share your art, but also harder to make a living from it (if that’s what you want). Over the last 5 years we’ve seen home computers take leaps and bounds in terms of managing work flow, edits and SFX etc. And DSLR’s / pro-sumer cameras (Red etc) have become a game changer, the quality and craftsmanship you can achieve now compared to ten years ago is just astounding. But that’s where the trouble arises, anyone now can shoot a video and call themselves a DOP, but it takes time and dedication to master that art. So if you are a freelancer pitching for a project you have to make sure your work stands head and shoulders above the rest to get notices.
   Social media has become the real weapon for indie film-makers, it’s so easy to share and distribute now it’s unreal. You can host a screening of your film, with a Q&A in a room 6 thousand miles away from the comfort of your bedroom. You can show your work to world famous directors and get comments back (like I have with Russell Crowe, Kevin Smith, Wes Craven etc) over twitter. But if your aim is to make a profit from that then good luck, unless you can get into a partnership with Youtube and produce content week in week out then there aren’t really that many other options. Indiegogo and kickstarter are great places to raise the finance to make your next project, but making a living from it is another thing. Peoples best hope now is to generate an internet presence for themselves, enter festivals and try to pick up awards, something that will get you noticed when you come to approach companies or commissioning editors or music bands.
   Make yourself stand out, find your voice, whatever separates you from everyone else and nurture that. Make it something you love and it’ll be easy. We don’t need 50 new Michael Bay’s, we need one or two new Ken Loach’s.
Q8: What are your future plans? Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us a bit about?
At the moment I’m editing together a short film that I’ve helped make along side my friends Jamie Coles, Dean Carter and actors David Crellin & Tigga Goulding. Jamie went to Uni with me and is an incredibly talented sound recordist. Jamie wrote a script that I really liked a few years ago, ‘A Time To be Thankful’ about two lost souls who accidentally meet on Christmas eve and make each others lives better in a simple, human connection way. Myself, David and Jamie wanted to work together again (I helped Jamie out on his dissertation which stared David and Tigga) so we began re-writing the script slightly and pulling favours to get the short made.
Also I’m currently in pre-production on a short film I intend to submit to this years VMS short film festival called ‘The Visitor’. 

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