All the Crossing the Screen Film Festival Artist’s get Paraded here

Drop Dead Films chat ‘Feminine Incite’ and much more…

Simon Olivier and John Langridge kindly took some time out of their Monday morning to speak to me about Drop Dead Films and Feminine Incite, their short film, which will be screening at Crossing The Screen International Film Festival on Friday 4th November 2016 at the Birley Centre.

M: How long has Drop Dead Films existed for?

S: We’ve been going since January 2015 now and we are based locally in Eastbourne, East Sussex. We applied for East Sussex Invest 3 funding, via Locate East Sussex and were awarded a grant of £5,000 for start-up costs and since then it has been an upward trajectory. Of course, we’re really happy that our film has been selected for the also-local Crossing The Screen Film Festival.

M: What was the inspiration for your film, Feminine Incite?

S: As a writer, I am always wary of the way in which you can get so engrossed in what you are writing that you forget to participate in the real world. We wanted to talk about the world that is going on in your head, the world that you create. Also, we wanted to do this in a comic way. The ‘high ideas’ in a writer’s mind becoming a reality.

M: I thought it was really interesting when reality and the writer’s ideas started to merge. Could you talk to me about that briefly?

S: There is something interesting to me about authorship. As an author, you are the ‘God’ of that world. You are its creator. I was interested in exploring the idea of moving that power of creation from the fictional world of the writer’s work, into the real world in which he lives… to see what happened.

M: Yes, definitely, I thought it was a really valuable theme to explore! How do you feel about an International film festival on your doorstep here in Eastbourne?

S: We think it’s a great opportunity. We need to pool resources. The more of us there are, the stronger we are. There isn’t really a network in place between artists and filmmakers in Eastbourne at the moment as far as we know. That was why we were so pleased to meet you at the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce. We noticed that there was a synergy between what you guys are trying to do and what we are trying to do.

J: We go to networking events in Brighton at the moment. We see a real need for networking events in Eastbourne. We got most of our crew from networking events in Brighton, but there are loads of talented people to be found in Eastbourne. What we need is an evening a month, where we all share ideas, talk about current projects…it really works in Brighton, so why wouldn’t it here? We’d like to meet anyone interested in film in the local area, from Producers to those just starting out… You never know who you are going to bump into or how those relationships could develop. I mean, in 2010, before Drop Dead Films began, I had a feature film script that I had been trying to get produced, and I found myself sat next to Nina Wadia (from Eastenders) and her husband at a mutual friend’s wedding. We started talking and it just so happened that they were looking to produce a film. So, the ball began rolling. We shot the film in 2010 and it came out in 2011. It’s called Four. Sometimes these things just happen!

M: Haha, sounds like it was meant to be!

S: Now we try to have as many projects and scripts in the pipeline as possible, so that we can begin straight away as soon as we access funding.

J: We have a couple of other projects on the slate, which we haven’t announced yet. But we won’t disclose too much just yet!

M: mystery prevails!

S: Yes, haha. But we do have a couple of features, which we are currently putting together: Hostage, which John will be directing, and The Dead Letter, which I’ll be directing. We like to take it in turns to helm a project!

M: Will they both be shot locally as well?

J: The Dead Letter will be shot primarily in Eastbourne and Brighton, but Hostage is a road movie, based between Yorkshire and Scotland. Evolutionary Films are our sales agents and they are taking it out to AFM (the American Film Market) shortly.

S: Obviously, it’s great to keep things local as much as you can, when it can work that way. But sometimes you will need to go further afield…

Why did you choose Eastbourne as a location for your business?

J: Well we’re both from Sussex originally. I’m from Newick and Simon is from Maresfield, but we have both ended up in Eastbourne, because of family largely. There is a huge gap in the market here and we saw a need to fill it. We’ve both worked elsewhere in the past. I was in London before, doing production work, and made a few shorts there, while Simon did a stint in Los Angeles, where he worked in production and directed some documentary. But we both came back here and we have had a variety of projects on the go since then.

M: There are quite a few Film and Media students coming to the festival and I wondered if you have any advice for people currently trying to break into the industry?

J: In terms of people trying to break into the industry, I would quote Woody Allen, I suppose: ‘Turn up!’ It is the only advice you can give in the film industry. Turn up, keep doing it, never give up…. you will work your way up. But you must be dedicated and be prepared to work hard! Take someone who works quite a lot with us, Ella Wood, she’s only 18 and she has already begun her own production company. She is working on a feature at the moment and she is about to make a short, which my kids are going to be in.

S: It’s worth mentioning that we have got a professional level kit that we rent and loan out, depending on the budget too. We just all need to get together and pool resources!

M: It’s great to know that you guys are bringing so much creativity and opportunities to Eastbourne. I look forward to seeing you both at the festival!

If anyone from the local area is reading this and interested in building a creative network in Eastbourne, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Crossing The Screen or Drop Dead Films! Just remember, it all starts when you ‘turn up’!


Check out the trailer for Feminine Incite to whet your appetite before Friday…






It’s coming up in just over two weeks !

Crossing the Screen Indipendent Film Festival -CTS FF-

is almost here!  We are really excited to welcome you all to the first international film festival in Eastbourne!
Here is a small selection of trailers of upcoming short films that you can expect to see at the festival to whet your appetite
…more snapshots to come!

First Film Trailer is :
1) Voicemail, Eric Brehmer: Narrative Short Films Selection (Competitive)

Then we have the Second Short Film Running
2) Bohemian Spirit, Stephen Lancefield:  Made in Sussex Selection (Special Category)

Last but not least the third Short Film is
3) Commune, Thomas Perrett: Narrative Short Films Selection (Non-competitive)

Crossing The Screen presents: Short Film Artist #1: Ali Asgari


Starting today, the Blog of CROSSING THE SCREEN is introducing a new series of interviews with some of the most acclaimed international filmmakers who have distinguished themselves in the art of short filmmaking.

Our first interview is with Iranian Director Ali Asgari.

(The original version of the interview is in Italian. Please click here, if you want to read it in Italian)

Ali Asgari was born in Tehran, Iran. He is a graduate of Cinema in Italy and an alumnus of Berlinale Talent Campus 2013. His short films were screened in more than 500 festivals around the world and won more than 100 awards.
His short film “More than Two Hours” gained 80 awards worldwide and was in competition at the Cannes Film festival 2013 and Sundance Film Festival 2014. In 2014, his short “The Baby” was premiered in competition at the Venice Film festival. His latest short, “The Silence“, co-directed with screenwriter Farnoosh Samad, is his first film made out of Iran and had its world premiere in competition at the last Cannes Film Festival 2016, last May.

‘The Silence’ tells the story of young Fatma and her mother, Kurdish refugees in Italy. During a visit to the doctor, Fatma has to translate for her mother her serious medical condition, but instead of translating the truth, the child remains silent.

Ali, what was the origin of ‘The Silence’?

This short film has a close relationship and was inspired by our own real lives. We moved to Italy to attend the university and, being ‘migrants’ ourselves, we have many past memories that have inspired us.
We wanted to tell a story that has a connection with communication because it has a strong symbolic meaning for us. Mastering a language plays an important role in communication between human beings, but in the context of migration, it plays an even more vital role. With this short, we wanted to explore the condition of migrants, but not with regards to their journey to Europe or the difficulties they face getting there, but the challenges of their new lives in a foreign country.
Moreover, we also wanted to focus on migrant children, because they are the real silent witnesses of what is happening around them.

You said you moved to Italy to attend an Italian university. Why did you choose Italy?

I love Classic Italian films and, for me, Italy has always been (and still is) a great source of inspiration for Art, and especially Cinema. When I decided to leave Iran to study abroad, Itay was among my first choices, so I decided to go.
Also, I had a few friends there and I spoke a little bit of Italian.

You have always shot your films in Iran and ‘The Silence’ is your first “Italian” film. Are there more stories to be told in Tehran or in Rome?

Stories are everywhere, but a Director has to choose the ones the are nearest to him and then the ones that deserve to be told. Being an Iranian, it’s easier for me to tell stories that belong to my own country. When filmmakers make a film, they don’t just shoot a film but they needs to depict many aspects of the land and of the people they are talking about in their film, like culture, language, environment, etc. and they need to know all these elements very well.


Why are most of the main characters in your films women?

I don’t have a precise answer to that. When I get an idea that suits me, I don’t think about the sex of the protagonist in advance. I just think about what I would like to express with my story and how to tell it more effectively.
However, there are also a few elements in my life and in my unconscious mind that might have led me toward this choice: I grew up with six older sisters and I always heard their stories and saw their point of views with regards to society, family and people. Maybe this has influenced me a lot.

Your films often deal with Iranian social issues. You shoot your stories with an essential, very detailed style that has many things in common with social realism. Will this lead you to shoot documentaries soon?

I really like documentaries and I always try to use a ‘documentary’ style in my films, but for the time being, I am very busy with a few narrative projects and I don’t think I will make documentaries. Maybe, in the future, I will think about it again.

The Silence

What about your artistic influences? Which film directors do you like?

Well, when directors make films there are many artistic influences for sure. Sometimes they know who has influenced them, but sometimes they don’t and they think they have created everything by themselves. Any form of creation is a mix of our imagination with our subconscious.
I admire many directors, to whom my idea of Cinema is closer to, such as the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke and Cristian Mungiu, but I like also some directors with which my films have nothing to share, especially with regards to the shooting style. I am thinking, in particular, about Theo Angelopoulos, Abbas Kiarostami, and Aki Kaurismaki.

What about censorship in Iran? Does it still exist or something is changing? 

In Iran, censorship started when Iranian Cinema was born. It is nothing new. Sometimes it is more evident and sometimes it is less. Then, apart from the government censorship, there is also cultural censorship. The government censorship, for now, is less tight and directors can work with a bit more freedom than, for example, a few years ago, but the rules always change according to the new government. Topics such as sex, religion and politics are the most censored and there is a very tight censorship on them. For other topics, it gets slightly better.

Is there any form of ‘censorship’ in Italy? Are there any topics that are difficult for independent filmmakers to deal with?

I still don’t know Italian Cinema very well, but I think that ‘censorship’ is not just when a government prevents you from making a film or from publishing a book. There is also a more subtle form of censorship that takes place, for example, when powerful lobbies manipulate directors from a form of Artistic Cinema to more mainstream forms of entertainment. In Italy, there is no official censorship but it seems to me that there is some sort of ‘influence’ that leads young filmmakers to make less and less creative and artistic films. It is almost a form of self-censorship to make kind of films they don’t really like to make.

Last but not least. Why ‘short’ films? Are short films still relevant today?

I think that short films are a very important medium. No matter how long a film is, what matters is that directors manage to say what they need to say. Sometimes, it takes two hours and sometimes just fifteen minutes. It’s much more important the effect on the audience.
Unfortunately, there are many directors who make shorts just to build experience or to ‘cut their teeth’. Some people don’t recognise the importance of shorts as a medium, but, as we all know, many important festivals regard them as crucial and put them in specific sections during the events. Luckily they understand the importance of short films.

© Crossing The Screen 2016

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