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…