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A fine example of what a British low-budget thriller is capable of...
It was just over a month ago that I was introduced (via the magic of Facebook) to Omid Nooshin's runaway train thriller Last Passenger. This was a movie that I was neither aware of nor privy to the fact that a former colleague of mine was one of the co-writers! As soon as I found out (another former workmate posted a link to the film on his status page), I raced online and ordered my Blu-Ray copy. A coupe of days later, it arrived and was immediately slammed into the player. An hour and a half later, I was not only very happy with my new purchase but I was also intrigued to how my cohort in retail television was now a budding new voice in British cinema. A quick email later and he told me how the positive response he has had from the experience has certainly helped move future projects forward.
PictureWhy not Do It Yourself?
So how did they get the film into production? Well, thanks to development backing from the UK Film Council the screenplay was placed on the 2008 Brit List of the best unproduced screenplays. The script attracted the attention of Dougray Scott - a strong negotiation tool when you have a name actor attached to your project. But for me the most intriguing technique was that the director and his producers made a £500 trailer on a disused train carriage in Sussex! The ability to demonstrate tone and style with a homemade trailer certainly accelerated the bidding process - within a couple of months, the film makers had raised the full production budget. The trailer was also instrumental at the 2011 Cannes Film Market, where the project raised plenty of finance in pre-sales.

The end result is a fast-paced, character driven action thriller - and one that is all too rare for our cinema screens. With the possible exception of London (and even then, it is Central London), it is nigh on impossible to walk into a local multiplex and find a low budget British genre movie among all the latest big FX-laden popcorn pictures from Hollywood. And this really needs to change. It is alright for Loach, Leigh and the established British auteurs to complain against David Cameron's idea of trying to make blockbusters over art films, but when all you want to do is make a good old fashioned thriller, perhaps a little more help getting them screened would help everyone?

Thanks to films like Last Passenger, despite the limited cinema release it may have had, it is both re-assuring and inspiring to see that such movies can still get made and also attract an audience. My own review of the film can be found in the Reviews section - and thanks to the glimpses I have been given into the process, I can positively move forward with my own planned projects... Knowing that perhaps the dream of seeing my own feature film on a big screen is not that ludicrous after all...

Time to dust off my old camera and get to work!

 
 
One of the production stills from my final year project at University... So long ago...
When you wish to break into the film industry, where do you start? For many of those with a love of movies but no contacts or experience, it seems a very daunting task. However every successful film maker working today had to start somewhere. It is true that there are some who have been fortunate to come from movie making stock, or have been financially strong enough to attend film school, where contacts and experience can be nurtured. But with today's technology, almost anyone can produce something for viewing. Those that wish to work in the industry may have to work infinitely harder than the aforementioned lucky ones, but there are some truly unique voices out there and some may very well break through and form a successful career.

So where to start? For me, it is to address the issue of British film in general, in accordance with my tastes. Personally, have always favoured genre movies over artistic works. Now I am not saying that I don't like art films - some of the works of Greenaway and Jarman are very good - but I have always enjoyed a great thriller, or a hilarious comedy. And if I wish to make movies, I am naturally drawn to these types of film. My early short films clearly fall under this bracket and the ideas that I am currently developing are following in their footsteps. But one thing troubles me when considering British genre films... Why are there so few shown on the big screen?

There are some fine examples of British film on the big screen that fall into the genre market - Edgar Wright's The World's End is one of the most successful examples in recent months. But an established film maker like Wright would no longer have trouble funding a high profile movie. How does a new independent film maker get their film into the movie theaters? This is when the artistic hat must be put aside and the business hat comes into play. It cannot be forgotten that this is show-business - when you are recognized by your peers as a success, then the more personal, artistic projects could come forward.  Until then, you must surely work towards a film you can sell.

Perhaps a re-think on tactics is in order... As you will see from my next entry...