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By midlandsmovies, Sep 3 2019 05:04PM


Photo credit: Sam Irons
Photo credit: Sam Irons

Midlands Interview - Katie Redford


Katie Redford is an actress and writer from Nottingham in the East Midlands and we spoke to her about her latest film Ghosted, a mockumentary about the spiritual and unknown that was part-funded by the BFI.


Midlands Movies editor Mike Sales got the low down on Katie's regional connections, her admiration for Ricky Gervais and the trials and tribulations of getting her new film off the ground using crowd-funding and a grant from the BFI.


Hi Katie. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into your current position in the industry?

Yes, of course. I'm from Nottingham. I was born in Stapleford but grew up mostly in Long Eaton. I went to London to train as an actress but one of my first jobs in the industry was working as a floor runner in TV. It was a brilliant job when it came to learning the different roles behind the scenes and witnessing just how much goes into a production, but I couldn't do it for long as I got too jealous of the actors!


And where did you go from there?

After a few years of juggling part time, I won the BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship which is a scheme BBC Radio Drama run for actors who haven't trained at an accredited drama school and I had 6 months working with the BBC Radio Drama Rep. From that point, I started working full time professionally as an actress in both TV and radio and started writing on the side for various local scratch nights. I was then accepted into BBC Comedy Writersroom so started writing more from that point.


Sounds great. Can you also tell us a bit about GHOSTED? How did you come up with the idea?

Ghosted is a comedy about a woman who loses her husband and as a result, turns to the world of the paranormal. We were both interested in different aspects of the paranormal and we just merged them together. My inspiration for the idea came from a paranormal investigation company that my friend runs. They meet at various old venues in Nottingham and Derbyshire with the aim to witness paranormal activity. The whole idea of the paranormal fascinates me but I also was intrigued as to know why people feel the need to find out / explore this bizarre phenomenon.



Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson
Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson

And how did the cast come on board?

Anna Wilson Jones, a brilliant actress who's also in the film, came on board to co-produce the project with us and suggested we send Alison Steadman the script. They'd worked together a few years before and thought it was worth a shot, which it most certainly was! We then approached the actors we really wanted and luckily, they all said yes!


What were the influences on your film?

There were a few, but I'd say mostly Spinal Tap, What We Do In The Shadows (Jermaine Clement's version), The Office & This Country. Duncan and I are huge fans of all of them and were inspired by mainly their tone and humour.


And what were the challenges you faced as local independent filmmaker?

There's lots of challenges - before pre shoot, during shoot and post shoot! In terms of pre shoot challenges, I think when you're an "unknown filmmaker, it's always going to be slightly trickier. It's a bigger risk when it comes to people investing in you and your project because they don't quite know what they're signing up for. For me, it was the first project I'd ever produced so there were lots of challenges for that reason alone.



Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson
Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson

And funding?

Funding is always going to be some what of a challenge but we decided to do things slightly differently and only apply for funding once we'd shot Ghosted. I was getting frustrated with the amount of hoops I was having to jump through to get a script read, let alone made, so we didn't want anything holding us up - we got a team together and shot it. It was afterwards that we launched a Kickstarter campaign and we managed to raise just over £6k, which really helped us in post.


How did the BFI involvement come about?

Again, it was something we looked into once we'd shot the film. I saw online that BFI NETWORK offered various grants and there was a Midlands branch so due to my connection, I sent an email along with our Kickstarter video. We recently found out that our Kickstarter video hugely influenced the decision to award us with the grant, so it really is vital getting that on point!


Was the process a smooth one?

Ghosted was one of the first short films to be produced by BFI Network in the Midlands so for us, the trickiest thing was simply waiting, as I think everyone was still finding their feet with the process of it all. But we were fortunate enough to have Alexzandra Jackson from BFI Network, who came on board as Exec Producer. Whenever there was a hold up or there was an issue, we'd just contact her and she'd reassure us with where everything was at.



Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson
Photo credit: Toby Laurence & Jemma Benson

And what has been the most difficult hurdle you have had to overcome yourself?

Firstly, to have patience - to accept that just because things don't happen instantly, it doesn't mean they won't happen at all. And secondly, if there's something I don't understand, to just ask. Because it was the first project I'd produced, there were certain things I wasn't sure about. For instance, when it came to paying our cast and crew (thanks to BFI Network funding!) I had no idea about issuing contracts and various clauses. As an actress, I'm used to my agent dealing with that side of things. But I just asked a few friends of mine who had produced and that really helped. The best piece of advice that was given to me from another producer was: "Everyone's blagging it. It's just about having the confidence, communicating and asking for help when you need it."


Moving onto your own personal tastes, do you have any heroes in the industry or favourite films you love?

I don't have a firm favourite - it's a bit all over the shop to be honest. I love Christmas films. And horror films. Paranormal Activity/ The Exorcist in particular. I also love Four Weddings and a Funeral. So, there's not exactly a pattern emerging. I have a few heroes in comedy; Ricky Gervais, Caroline Aherne, Ruth Jones & Peter Kay. They're all comedy legends who have carved the way for their own work.


And what has been your greatest achievement or success?

Having Alison Steadman as the lead in my first short film is pretty much up there at the minute!


So finally, what are your future plans for Ghosted?

It's currently doing the film festival circuit at the minute. It's doing well internationally having been selected for festivals in the US and Australia and we're looking forward to seeing it at Underwire and Aesthetica. We discussed plans for a TV series and have had a few meetings but they're just ideas at the minute.


And any advice to give to other Midlands filmmakers?

Get a good team around you. If in doubt, just ask. Don't let things hold you up - momentum is key! And remember, 'everyone's blagging it' - so just do it!


Thanks Katie!


Find out more about Ghosted at the official websuite: https://www.ghostedfilm.co.uk


The trailer for the film is below:




By midlandsmovies, Jan 14 2019 11:31AM



SYNT: A Night in the Death of Jenny Taylor


Directed by Dave Inglis


2018


SYNT is the debut film from Dave Inglis, a writer-director from Birmingham who previously starred in West Midlands short Eviction and has now turned his hand to filmmaking in this horror comedy.


With a cast and crew from Birmingham and Solihull, SYNT is a kind of faux-documentary about Keith Fairbanks (Dave Inglis himself) who is a part-time journalist and online bingo-caller.


But things go strange very quick in this story as Keith arranges an ‘interview with a vampire’ after an online audition and heads to meet Jenny Taylor, an octogenarian bloodsucker AND a prostitute to boot. Sucker indeed.


Giving its documentary feel, the film has been wisely made in a very hand-held style. The camera movements and slice-of-life discussions are like a dark re-imagining of BBC’s The Office and everyday mundane activities are shown in a comically matter of fact delivery.


The script has lots of odd-ball and surreal jokes and dialogue often seems improvised which keeps with the documentary vibe as Dave and his cameraman – Ignatious Orlando Fyke – have funny off-the-cuff chats on their journey around town at night.


Long takes again maintain realism and whole scenes are played out without cuts which is testament to the actors’ skills. In addition, the film is punctuated with inserts, text, pauses and more which creates some visually interesting editing. However, SYNT could have definitely done with more of this though, as the long takes can begin to feel drawn-out and it just about avoids the pitfall of looking too much like an un-edited home-movie.


I am aware however of a shorter director’s cut that the filmmaker has made for festivals and I think this would work better as although the film throws lots of jokes at the audience, the murky lighting and juddering camera verges may push audience's to their 'wobbly' limit.


Brent-like Keith continues his investigations on the streets with Vlad and others, and seems somewhat unaware of his bumbling interview technique as he not only portrays events but almost gets involved in them himself. From take-aways to kerb-crawlers, the film finds lots of morbid fun in seedy night time shenanigans and its new suburban spin on the classic vampire hunter.


Obviously, the film is most reminiscent of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows with its mix of vampire lore, comedy and documentary stylings but with the director freely admitting to some personal troubles outside of filmmaking, SYNT feels a cathartic exercise. Dave approaches the production as a form of therapy, involving friends and family and focusing on a complex project yet with a humorous tone which is more than an honourable exercise.


In conclusion, at over an hour in length some viewers’ patience may feel as stretched as a vampire’s life span but SYNT has more positives than negatives overall despite its drawn-out feel. If you loved Waititi’s 2014 film then I’d highly recommend this similar local Midlands flick with its fun parody mix involving crypts and quips.


Michael Sales



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