Midlands Spotlight Archive - Keith Allott
By midlandsmovies, Nov 10 2013 11:15AM
Midlands Movies Mike chats to Keith Allott; a filmmaker who has created award winning documentary, narrative and experimental films for over ten years and ran the community film studios in Leicester before moving on to run his own production company Badshoes Film. As the chairperson and co-founder of Seven/Five Productions, a voluntary organisation assisting filmmakers in the region (and covered previously on Midlands Movies) Keith also teaches Film & TV at the Pauline Quirke Academy. Born in Leicester, he returned to the area at 24 after a stint in Madrid and has been creating films since 2002, working on over 100 independent productions during that time and Mike asked him about his current and future work.
MM: Hi Keith, how did you get where you are now and do your projects specialise in any genres?
KA: Hi there. Well, after running the community studios and working at Phoenix for a short time the opportunity arose to work for myself. I took it and so far it's gone pretty well. I've used my experience of studying film production and theory and from working at various different public and private sector companies. I create mostly documentary films focusing on individuals and issues which interest me or through being commissioned by different organisations. I also create narrative shorts and experimental films. I'm the resident filmmaker for Word Poetry in Leicester. This gives me an opportunity to work with a lot of different artists and to collaborate on a diverse range of moving image projects. I'm resident filmmaker for Showcase Smoothie, a project which allows me to co-create abstract visuals for poets and exhibit regularly. I like to be able to work on as many different types of genre as possible, I think I'd get bored just doing one thing.
MM: What has been the most difficult hurdle you have had to overcome?
KA: Part of setting up Seven / Five was to overcome the biggest hurdle I had when I was younger, that was finding people who were like minded that I could work with to create films. Knowing others who can help that you can form partnerships with is massive, it helps you to make things but also inspires you to get better each time you make something. Without finding other people to work with and create partnerships with I don't think I would be making films now.
MM: Do you have all the say in the projects you take on?
KA: I work on several different levels in film production. As part of Badshoes Film I work on film project commissions, educational courses and loads more besides. When I am making something as a commission I try to make the film a collaborative effort but with both parties specialising in their area of expertise. They provide the parameters for me to work in and I provide the filmmaking expertise which ranges from the pre-production to production to post production and also taking into consideration things like audience and distribution. I am the film lead on those projects and usually fill a Director / Producer / DOP / Editor role depending on budget or sometimes confidentiality of the subject matter in production. Sometimes I am brought onto projects to work as a DOP or Production Manager or an editor. As part of Seven / Five I usually work in an advisory role helping people to create their films but sometimes also DOP or edit.
MM: Can you describe a characteristic day on a set/shoot?
KA: Depends what I'm doing. When working as a part of a full production crew it's organised but also adaptable. Be prepared for what you're doing but also to change in the blink of an eye. It's hectic but can be smooth, there's no rules because so many factors are at play. It's damn good fun though and I wouldn't want to do anything else.
MM: Do you have any heroes in the industry? What are your favourite films?
KA: A lot of people my age regard Spielberg as someone they can base their childhood memories around in film, I always preferred John Carpenter. The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness, The Fog, Assault on Precinct 13 etc he made some quality films and had awesome electronic music in them. Jack Cardiff for his vibrant cinematography, my favourite photographer. There are loads of others but those two jump out at the minute. My fave films? Impossible question to answer but if you put a gun to my head, Jaws and Blade runner. My favourite British films? Trainspotting is quality, Kes is fantastic, Went the Day Well is amazing, and there are loads but again those three just jumped out at the minute.
MM: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
KA: Being able to work in the field that I have loved since I was a kid is the biggest achievement I’ve had. Bagging two awards was pretty good too but working day to day in film is brilliant.
MM: Do you have any future plans?
KA: I'm currently working on a list of short film productions. I’m working on principal photography for a documentary feature, planning another and writing a narrative feature too. Pretty busy at the minute. hoping two of them should be done during 2014.
MM: Any advice for anyone looking to start their own project (either in front of or behind the camera)?
KA: Get it on the page. Find someone who knows how to write. Find people who can help. Offer them all your help in return. Source proper actors. Plan. Feed your cast and crew. Work with an editor. Learn from them all if you don't already know. Organise a proper screening. Get the film out to as many festivals and people as possible. Put on a proper screening. There's more to it than you think but you will enjoy it
See a selection of Badshoes Productions below and their full show reel is here - http://www.youtube.com/user/BadshoesFilm/videos
See Keith's film "Use Clean Hands" (2013) on YouTube here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4kEHNPHEn4&feature=player_embedded
And another of Keith's films "Naughty Words - The Interviews" (2013) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJXFEw1QwO0&feature=player_embedded