Firstly, I’m really delighted to have heard this week that my latest short film script – APPROVAL NEEDED – is a finalist for the IMDb Script to Screen Award. The five finalists will be performed by actors at the Komedia in Bath, UK on 14th June in front of an audience, and a seriously impressive panel of industry judges. The winning script will receive funding towards completing the film in time to be screened at the Bath Film Festival in November this year. Obviously, it would be fantastic to win but I have to say that just being considered is great – the opportunity to hear the words spoken by someone other than the voices in my head, and to get a feel for how an audience responds to the work, is invaluable in itself. If you happen to be able to get to Bath for 6pm, June 14th, please do join me for what is sure to be a fun event.
Of course, this is all giving me keen sense of déjà vu…
Last spring, the script for ‘Rachel’ was on the short list of five projects under consideration for the UK Jewish Film Pears Short Film Fund. Akua, Tania and I worked like crazy to put our pitch together for the panel interview, so after that grilling I took the ladies across the street to Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood Hotel for cocktails and we decided that, whatever the outcome, we would go for it and make the film.
Sadly, we didn’t get that funding and – because it seemed that one of the likely deciding factors was that I had not directed before and therefore might not be able to deliver a film, not to mention a quality one, by the August 10th deadline – I felt I had something to prove. I vowed to make ‘Rachel’ before that deadline.
In retrospect, that was an insane decision but we did complete the film on August 1st and we did win Best Foreign Film at the SNOB New England Indie Fest. Perhaps not so barking mad after all.
This time last year Maja – assistant director extraordinaire – came through London after her trip to Cannes with the Israel Film Festival and I took the opportunity to bring our core team together for brunch (Pictured at top). At the time we were anxiously watching our Kickstarter campaign, hoping that we would reach our funding target, whilst knowing that we had to keep moving forward with preproduction planning as if it were a certainty – location hunting, searching for just the right man to play Rachel’s dad, finding props that might never be used, trying and failing to track down singer-songwriter Ned “Flathead” Landin, Akua trying to drag me out from under my rock and onto social media, assembling a stellar crew.
Then, thanks to our many generous supporters, we surpassed our goal and went into full-on production.
It was a manic, stressful, hugely challenging experience but in the most fun, life-affirming and artistically satisfying way possible. If I could have done it all over again immediately I would have. The work of art below, Louise Bourgeois, never meant more to me.
The role of the writer-director is to be a creative and driving force for both existing and new projects. I have to be the one to create work for myself and for the people I want to collaborate with. Consequently, while I have been busy trying to enhance the profile of ‘Rachel’ and making sure it is out there in the world to be appreciated (or not!), I have also started the development process towards shooting my first feature film and thinking about which of my short film ideas might help me towards that goal.
Meanwhile, the talented individuals on my team for ‘Rachel’ are in great demand. Most weeks – in fact most days – there is news of new projects they are involved in. I’ll admit I am jealous that they are out there working with other directors and writers, making more great films, while I am sitting at my desk writing, running around networking events, trying to work out who I know who knows someone who can help, trying to create the opportunity to pick up the phone and start a new creative journey with ‘my’ team.
Now, a year after Maja came through London after Cannes, she has done the Cannes thing again and we met up at London’s Southbank on Friday. It was a gorgeous day and I was proud that, in a week when terrible sadness had engulfed our nation after the Manchester terrorist attack, Londoners were nonetheless out in force, getting on with enjoying life.
We talked about the scary state of the world, how fantastic London is, the challenges of growing up in Israel, the joys of finding the right clothes for Cannes, the difficult task of getting our work out there and onto the big screen, our deep frustration at Warner Bros‘ disappointing decision to cancel their London Wonder Woman premiere, in response to an attack specifically designed to harm young girls – seriously, as their tag line is “When the World Needed a Hero, Wonder Woman Arrived”, they should have responded not by cancelling but by moving the premiere to Manchester – it’s what Wonder Woman would do.
Just like this time last year, there is now a chance that I will suddenly be in a position to pick up the phone to the Rachel team and head full-on into making a new short film. ‘Approval Needed’ is a story that deals with loneliness, depression, racism, the dehumanising effect of technology, and finally a little romance to take the edge off. And, if her busy schedule around her upcoming national tour with War Horse allows, Arinder Sadhra will this time be taking on the starring role rather than making the memorable, but fleeting appearance as she did in ‘Rachel’.
I hope to be sharing more about the project soon but if you can make it, please do come along to the Script to Screen Award event. 6pm, 14th June at the Komedia, Bath. Box Office: 01225 463362.