Filmmaker Interview #55 – Demelza Kooij

Demelza_Kooij2I first discovered Demelza Kooij when we screened her documentary The View From Here in February this year at one of the Banshee nights. I absolutely loved the film, its visual, construction and starkness, it shocked me and I knew it would shock others. I liked it that much in fact we gave in the Athens of the North Award for Best Edinburgh short film at
Write Shoot Cut.

Demelza is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on, so check out the interview, then go check out her work.

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Filmmaker Interview #54 – Maria McIndoo

MMcI first met Maria McIndoo in the run up to Bootleg Film Festival, Edinburgh. She had just shot my good friend Tom Wilton’s latest feature film and was in Edinburgh presenting her debut feature. I was instantly enamored by her no bullshit attitude, her dislike of small talk and her ability to say it like it is.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Maria on two of my own projects and I’m excited to see what she does now she’s back in New York.

Maria’s first first film was her feature film, how cool is that. Find out more in the interview below.  Read more of this post

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Andrew Parkhill – I’ll Be Here All Night


Name:  Andrew Parkhill
Film:  I’ll Be Here All Night
Role:  Writer/director

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I work as a TV subtitler in Belfast and had written a few short films, sketches and Irish TV episodes, but I’ll Be Here All Night is the first film I’ve directed. I tried to make it easy on myself by having two main characters in a single location, but also got lucky with a cast and crew who kindly helped out as a favour. The story came from being not remotely musical but going to a lot of local gigs, and thinking how that performer-audience relationship could be close, uncomfortable or just downright weird.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

I was always interested in writing, but struggled to define what makes a “good” short story, novel etc, beyond what interested me. Screenplays seemed to have a clearer set of rules and conventions, so I thought if I could learn to write a good script, using that framework as a kind of crutch to start with, it would help my writing across the board (and I think it did – it certainly trains you to be concise). I joined a Belfast group called Screenwriters Ink, who were also making short films, and ended up producing one as well as writing.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

It’s brilliant just to be able to say my film’s playing in New York, but I’m also intrigued by the Bootleg Festival as a movable band of film-makers. This is the first film I’ve sent out widely to festivals, so I feel quite new to the circuit. Also looking forward to feeling like a proper artsy Manhattan bohemian.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

Midnight Run – a comedy thriller that’s both funny and thrilling, with great characters. It’s got everything.

Peking Opera Blues – actually, this has everything – the above, plus some spectacular martial arts. The film that made me a devotee to the World Cinema video aisle.

The Lives of Others – two hours watching a man’s soul get turned inside out. Just what drama’s meant to do.

Perfect Blue – atmospheric anime that keeps wrong-footing you with fake twists and storytelling games. A great film about film.

The Naked Gun – each time I see it, I come away with a new favourite gag.

Favourite film related website? – abridged scripts that have some great story analysis, but are more importantly very, very funny.

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Write a snappy, pared-down script. Then pare it down some more. Know your characters – even if a detail isn’t in the film, have an answer to every question someone asks you about them. Then be tough on them – really put these fictional people you like through the wringer. And learn to produce, even a little bit. Hawking a script around, looking for people to make it, requires a lot of luck, but even if you’re not sure how to go about the practicalities yourself, as soon as you say: “I’m making this film. Do you want to help?” it’s amazing how quickly people will come on board. But you need to set the ball rolling.

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Grant McPhee – To Here Knows When


Name: Grant McPhee
Film: “To Here Knows When”
Role: Director / Cinematographer

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I wanted to make a bold looking film that asked more questions than gave answers. I’ve an alternative career in the film industry which I’m very happy in so didn’t feel any pressure to make it saleable or give it a look from a cinematography point of view that would further my career. I’m not really sure what it is but it’d definitely not like most films from where I’m from, which unfortunately seems to have become a genre in itself (Scottish Films).

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

I wanted to share the experience of seeing beautiful moments of light in nature. I thought a movie camera was a good way of capturing that. When I realised it wasn’t enough just pressing record I wanted to know why.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

I couldn’t be happier. It was the first festival I sent it to. I really like the ethos behind it – bringing lots of like minded people together to hopefully inspire each other to make more and better films. More festivals should take that approach.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

The Conversation, Witchfinder General, Cool Hand Luke, Performance, Yellow Submarine

Favourite film related website?


What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Surround yourself with the best support you can. Don’t get carried away and try and do everything yourself. Everyone needs help, and if your film is going to be better as a result take as much help as you can get. A great way to get strong support is using professional crew who want to gain credits to step up to a higher grade. A boom operator with lots of set experience might be willing to work for free or low pay to work as a sound recordist, a 2nd AC might want experience working as a 1st AC. Much better than getting your friends to do it (unless they are experienced film crew). Time is your enemy and having crew with professional experience really saves time.

Try and pay people a percentage of your budget. It doesn’t matter if your budget is £10, £100, or £1000s. Paying people makes your cast and crew feel valued and more likely to do a better job. It also gives your cast and crew a level of responsibility to your film..

Don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel. Some things have been done a certain way for a long time for a reason.

Have a proper excel budget and schedule and stick to it. Have call sheets, unit lists, insurance documents and try and stick to 11 hour days. It’s all good and well shooting 20 hour days on occasional weekends but funders want to know that their money is in safe hands. Along with your great film, presenting evidence to funders that you can work to accepted industry methods will go a very long way.

Don’t go with your first idea, go with your next.

If you ask someone to do something for you try to be occasionally vague. Their interpretation might be more interesting than what you originally wanted. They might not always like it but you can sometimes get more interesting results when your collaborators get the opportunity to think for themselves.

Actor Interview #18 – Alix Austin

1290007_10151667829343953_1785563255_nI was introduced to Alix Austin via her performance in the short film Interview. It was such a naturalistic performance in a rather poignient little film that I wanted to know more about her.

She’s certainly talented and as a student, she has already shown great potential both in front of and behind the camera. Keep an eye out on Alix as I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot of her over the coming years.  Read more of this post

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Justin Kelly – A Song For Torah Jane


Name: Justin Kelly
Film: A Song For Torah Jane
Role: Director

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I have spent my entire adult life working in film and television. Over the last 18 years I have worked as an assistant production accountant, first assistant director, production manager, line producer, producer, director, and writer.

In 2011 I had a daughter and she had a profound impact on my life so when her first birthday came around I figured if a carpenter would build her child a toy, and a baker would bake his child a cake, I as a filmmaker should make my daughter a film. I partnered with my producer Gerhard and our composer Jay and created this short musical for my daughter’s gift. That said, the three of us were so busy with others shows that by the time the film was complete we were much closer to Torah’s 2nd birthday than her 1st.

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

Plain and simple I love to tell stories. This film is a real departure from anything that I have written or directed in the past because it was inspired by something other than my need to write and direct a bunch of Jews talking to one another on screen (write what you know). I grew up with such an animated group of story tellers in my family that it just came naturally.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?

It means a lot! I took a great deal of time off as a director to focus on being a producer and PM for other people’s shows, frankly because it paid the bills. I also kinda checked-out as an artist and spent my time away from set drinking and doing drugs, which some people find inspiration in, but it just kills my creativity and makes me a negative piece of shit. The Seder was sorta my return to being a creative person and it had its world premiere at Bootleg Toronto. Since then it has played in every continent, garnered both awards and praise, and even had our editor (and fellow Bootlegger) Jeffrey P. Nesker and I nominated for a Director’s Guild award for best short film. I guess I am hoping that premiering A Song For Torah Jane at Bootleg NYC brings us the same luck, but it also feels right to be surrounded by friends when you share you latest art for the first time.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

1. Rope  2. Annie Hall  3. Dumb and Dumber  4. The Player  5. The Hudsucker Proxy

Favourite film related website?

Write Shoot Cut ;-)

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

Do It! Don’t talk about it, don’t plan your career all the way from PA to Oscar Winner, don’t be so fixated on the end goal that you miss great opportunities right in front of you, and do meet as many people along the way as possible. Nothing has contributed greater to my long career than my willingness to learn all aspects to making a movie (accounting, scheduling, financing, directing, producing). Some of my friends that I broke in with we going to be stars or big-time directors and weren’t interested in being a PM or 1st AD while they waited for their chance to direct; they just sat on their hands and waited for Hollywood to call them and make them an offer for a three picture deal. The fact that I learned how to do all of the shitty and hard jobs has made me a sought after producer and that has helped me create directing opportunities for myself.

Finally, never forget that a career in indie film takes a really long time to become financially stable and in a lot of cases the lucre never comes. It takes a healthy mixture of creative-drive, stubbornness, stupidity, and balls.

Bootleg NYC Interviews – Daniel Watkins – Fun World


Name: Daniel Watkins
Film: Fun World
Role: Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?

I am 27 years old and have recently relocated to Los Angeles, CA from Orlando, FL. For the past few years I’ve tried traversing the increasingly fine line between experimental and narrative filmmaking, only to realize that there exists no good reason that the two should be kept apart. My work as of late has attempted to aesthetically, and ideologically blend these two worlds with one another.

In Fun World I work within the aesthetic discourse of narrative cinema and use that established grammar to play against viewer expectations, in turn dismantling any preconception one could have regarding the images meant to logically proceed other images. An example can be found in the film’s second shot as we move through a child’s birthday party. The move at first appears to be a dolly towards the Mother, yet as we pass her it becomes a move towards her son, but we ultimately pass him, and move towards an empty booth. A shot that, at various moments in its duration seemed to have a specific focus, is revealed to have no true subject. This is an example of the plurality of the undefined image; “une image juste” rather than “juste une image.” When you refuse to define your images you open them to a multitude of possible meanings, thus freeing them from the “image stream” and releasing them to a much larger series of histories. Not simply a history of cinema, but also a history of images. Through this technique one can approach what Robert Bresson defined as “cinematography.”

Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?

Memory is all we have to give context to our present, and as such our histories are ever evolving; existing in time just as much as space. I have come to focus on moving images as a medium, because, with the introduction of time to finite space, film becomes the only medium that can accurately portray the multiplicity of those histories.
As humans I think we have this inherent need to synthesize our experiences. We post pictures on facebook, we make scrap books – filmmaking is merely an extension of this need, and as I explained above, film is medium perfected. Photography, painting, etc., only capture space. They can allude to time; to suggest it, but the moving image is the only medium (with the exception of sound) that can capture it.

What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you? Their’s is an ethos I truly respect. Those making an active decision to exist on the fringes of art making, like so many of us have, are part of a noble undertaking; those resigning themselves to inspiration, and the fulfillment of vision as sustenance. I am proud to be among their ranks.

All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?

1. A Woman is a Woman
2. The World
3. Mothlight
4. Mutual Appreciation
5. Ghostbusters

Favourite film related website? Though I don’t agree when they digress into image fetishism, the aspects of film they choose to focus on usually transcend the superficial in an interesting way.

What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?

When making a film, know what you want. Have a definite answer for every creative question you encounter during the process. If you do not have total faith in your decisions, then those around you can easily lose faith in you. Also, don’t get so bogged down with narrative structure. The tone of a piece has more residual effect on an audience than a “properly” executed beginning, middle, and end.


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