Actors and Actresses

American Honey triumphs at the British Independent Film Awards 2016

Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, starring Sasha Lane, triumphed at the British Independent Film Awards 2016

Sasha Lane in American Honey

Sasha Lane in American Honey

Film4-backed AMERICAN HONEY took home four awards from six nominations at last night’s BIFAs, including top prize Best British Independent Film, Best Director for Andrea Arnold, Best Actress for star Sasha Lane, and Outstanding Achievement in Craft for cinematographer Robbie Ryan. 

Film4’s Head of Creative Rose Garnett commented: “We are thrilled that BIFA’s jury saw fit to award American Honey with four prizes. Andrea is one of the great directors working today, and a truly independent filmmaker. American Honey is a landmark film that places British talent at the centre of the world cinema stage, and Film4 are proud to have supported the project from its inception.”

AMERICAN HONEY previously won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has also been nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards: Best Feature, Director, Female Lead, Supporting Female (Riley Keough), Supporting Male (Shia LaBeouf) and Cinematography (Robbie Ryan).

AMERICAN HONEY tells the story of Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, who runs away with a travelling sales crew that drives across the American mid-west selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (Shia LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard partying, law-bending and young love.

A24 released the film in the US on September 30th; Universal / Focus Features released the film in the UK on October 14th.

Fright Bites: Shortcut Q&A

We sat down with Prano Bailey-Bond to hear about her terrifying Fright Bites short Shortcut, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd,  just in time for Halloween…

Shortcut, starring Danny Devall

Shortcut, starring Danny Devall

So tell us about where the idea for this short came from? It’s about a nightmarish comeuppance for a cheating boyfriend…

Ok – I’m going to attempt to answer this without giving away the film’s ending… Conrad Ford, who wrote the script, told me that he had always wanted to write a film in which someone has this ‘end’, which I thought was a pretty exciting starting point. Also the road sign – a powerful red-rimmed warning sign, which could pose a question in the audience’s mind… What really drew me to the script was its twisted sense of humour and the way it plays with our expectations. I interpreted it as being a kind of dreamlike revenge fantasy, which felt like a refreshing, modern take on the horror genre.

Almost the entire short is set in a car – did that present any shooting challenges?

It certainly did! It was a one-day shoot and a tight budget, which made shooting in a moving vehicle an enormous challenge. Shooting on a low-loader was out of the question as it would have cost us too much time and budget. The main character, Kurt, is driving quite dangerously; texting, not looking at the road etc, so we really had to consider safety when shooting as well. I made the decision quite early on to shoot the interior car scenes static – I guess you could call this the old-fashioned way! It’s actually a really cool way of shooting, and means you don’t have the whole crew working on the back of a moving lorry, having to re-set vehicle positions etc every time you go for a take, which can really eat into your schedule. Shooting static presents other challenges though, such as creating a sense of movement and travel. So we used moving lights, revolving trees, composited VFX and sound design to sell this idea. This fused quite well with the overall look of the film, which has a slightly stylised feel; surreal and dreamlike, perhaps hinting towards what Sunshine is dreaming about, and how that ties in with the narrative.

The prosthetics work is quite brutal and wince-inducing – who did you work with to get that effect?

Ha! Good. I worked with Dan Martin – a special effects wizard – on the prosthetics. He crafted it and our amazing SFX Make Up artist Ruth Pease was on set to operate it. I worked with Dan on my last short film NASTY. He’s worked on some amazing titles like Sightseers, Human Centipede 2, Nina Forever, High Rise – it’s always an honour to work with Dan. Again, I don’t want to give away the ending of the film, but I’ve never had so many, um, ‘unique’ conversations about that part of the body as I have working on this film. Dan and I had some very interesting chats, and I ended up on some pretty intriguing blogs too. Another first for me on Shortcut was one of the crew members accidentally being urinated on in the mouth during one of the takes – fake urine luckily. It was a fun shoot, intense, but this aspect was brilliantly fun.

Prano Bailey-Bond

Prano Bailey-Bond

Follow @pranobaileybond  / www.pranobaileybond.com

Alden Ehrenreich on Hail, Caesar!

02 Mar, 2016 Posted in: Actors and Actresses, Interview

As Hollywood comedy Hail, Caesar! hits UK cinemas, Film4.com site editor Michael Leader speaks with actor Alden Ehrenreich about singing cowboys, the studio system and working with the Coen Brothers…

Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar!

Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! is a movie by and for movie lovers, and it’s packed with so many references and homages to Golden-Age Hollywood. Hobie Doyle, the ‘dust actor’, seems to be playing on the old Western archetype of the singing cowboy. Did the Coens ever say, in the screenplay or on set, ‘this is Gene Autry’?

They make some references to that. I grew up with a lot of John Ford and Sam Peckinpah Westerns but I’d never really seen any of the ‘singing cowboy’ stuff. Certainly the most famous people in the genre would be Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, but they kind of created their own. It doesn’t really sync up in the way that some of the other characters do, to one person in particular. I feel like they really created their own, unique guy which was what made it so fun to play.

If you didn’t have any prior knowledge of this sort of Western star, did the Coens set you any homework, or did you do any research into the genre yourself? 

Yeah they showed me a couple of things. Not so much for the character, specifically, but they sent me a clip of Roy Rogers that they thought was really funny, where he says a line and immediately after the line he just starts singing. We also watched a clip of Will Rogers doing trick-roping.

One earlier Western that I really loved growing up was Destry Rides Again, which was made in 1939, the same year as Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. It’s Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich and it’s great. I have a few favourite actors of that era, but Jimmy Stewart is one of my favourite actors in the world. I adore him. He chose to play a certain type of role and you believed him, I have a lot of respect for that.

James Stewart & Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again

James Stewart & Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again

Looking at the era of Hail, Caesar!, where you have contracted movie stars who would have guaranteed studio work for a set amount of time, there must have been something quaint and attractive looking back at those days.

Absolutely, like you just said the job security seems really appealing. My other favourite pre-World War II film star is Spencer Tracy, and I remember him saying something about actors – which I don’t agree with – but he says that actors were better then because they were constantly working, and they were constantly trying different things and they were challenged. And that’s really appealing.

Now at the same time, there’s the great story of James Stewart talking about being forced to do a musical, and him not being able to sing at all, and he was horrible in it, which is kind of what happens in Hail, Caesar! – you would end up playing parts that you weren’t right for. So that’s the downside. And you didn’t have any control over what you were saying or what kind of films you were doing, but on the other hand the upside is the consistency of work you were getting.

It’s so true. I recently watched a screwball comedy from the 1930s called The Awful Truth, with Cary Grant, and he’s amazing in it. He just looks like Cary Grant as we know him, the iconic star wearing the suit, pratfalling and quipping. But I read that he hated the experience, and tried to quit the production – yet that was the film that created the star persona that defined the rest of his career.

The other one is Clark Gable, who was forced to do It Happened One Night as punishment because he kept saying no to things, and so MGM lent him out to Columbia, a smaller studio, and he thought that it was the worst thing that had ever happened. And yet it won Best Picture! It was a happy accident.

Joel & Ethan Coen

Writer-directors Joel & Ethan Coen

Are there any happy accidents when working with the Coen Brothers?

The Coens in a nutshell are unbelievably prepared and they have everything, like the writing, so complete that when you get to set it’s a very relaxed environment, because there’s only so much that can go wrong. And if it does go wrong you have the feeling that they know exactly how to fix it.

And then when you get there, because they’re so prepared, they give you a lot of latitude and a lot of freedom. I’ve never been on a set that was so relaxed, so fun. They’d say “you can go home now”, and I’d be like “it’s only noon, can I stay and watch?”

Hail, Caesar! is released in UK cinemas on March 4th 2016. The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis premieres on Film4 on March 2nd.

The 36th London Film Critics Circle Awards

18 Jan, 2016 Posted in: Actors and Actresses, Awards

The Film4-backed 45 Years takes Best Actor, Best Actress and Best British Film at the 36th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards

Other prizes for Film4-backed films included Breakthrough Filmmaker for director John Maclean for Slow West, Best Documentary for Amy and a gong for cinematography for Carol’s director of photography Ed Lachman.

tom c copy

Tom Courtenay wins Best Actor

At a black-tie ceremony hosted by comedian Robin Ince, Film4-backed films went home with a total of six prizes. Andrew Haigh’s tender drama 45 Years was named British/Irish Film of the Year by a voting body comprising around 90 of the UK’s professional critics. It also won the night’s top acting prizes, as veteran stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay were named Actress and Actor of the Year.

Tristan Golligher

45 Years producer Tristan Golligher

Adding to its list of honours in the US, Asif Kapadia’s Amy took the award for Documentary of the Year. Musician-turned-filmmaker John Maclean won the Philip French Award for Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker for his striking debut Slow West, while Todd Haynes’s period romance Carol took the multi-disciplinary Technical Achievement Award for Ed Lachman’s 16mm cinematography.

robin

Host comedian Robin Ince

Dench and Branagh

Judi Dench presented the Dilys Powell award for excellence in film to Kenneth Branagh

The full list of winners for the 36th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards:

 

FILM OF THE YEAR: Mad Max: Fury Road

BRITISH/IRISH FILM OF THE YEAR: 45 Years

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR: The Look of Silence

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR: Amy

ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Tom Courtenay — 45 Years

ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Charlotte Rampling — 45 Years

SUPPORTING ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Mark Rylance — Bridge of Spies

SUPPORTING ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Kate Winslet — Steve Jobs

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR: George Miller — Mad Max: Fury Road

SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy — Spotlight

BRITISH/IRISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR: Tom Hardy — Legend, London Road, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant

BRITISH/IRISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR: Saoirse Ronan — Brooklyn, Lost River

YOUNG BRITISH/IRISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Maisie Williams — The Falling

PHILIP FRENCH AWARD FOR BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH/IRISH FILMMAKER: John Maclean — Slow West

BRITISH/IRISH SHORT FILM OF THE YEAR: Stutterer — Benjamin Cleary

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Ed Lachman, cinematography — Carol

DILYS POWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM: Kenneth Branagh

 

Film4-backed films receive 41 nominations at the BIFAs

03 Nov, 2015 Productions Posted in: Actors and Actresses, Awards, BIFA

Film4 has received a total of 41 nominations for the films it has backed at this year’s British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), with the nomination lists for the Best British Film and Best Director awards consisting entirely of Film4-backed talent and films.

The Lobster

Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster tops the list with seven nominations. Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth each receive six nominations while Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and Asif Kapadia’s Amy garnered five nominations each. Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette and Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise have four nominations each.

Macbeth

Macbeth

Film4 films make up the entirety of the nominations for the Best British Independent Film award: 45 Years, Amy, Ex Machina, The Lobster and Macbeth. Similarly, the nominations for Best Director are all for Film4-backed films – Andrew Haigh, Asif Kapadia, Alex Garland, Yorgos Lanthimos and Justin Kurzel. And John Maclean is nominated for Best Debut Director for Slow West alongside Louise Osmond who is nominated in the Best Documentary category for her film Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance.

Film4 also dominates the Best Screenplay nominations with 45 Years, Ex­ Machina, High-Rise and The Lobster.

Suffragette

Suffragette

Carey Mulligan is nominated for Best Actress for her role in Suffragette alongside Charlotte Rampling for her role in 45 Years. Tom Courtenay (45 Years), Colin Farrell (The Lobster), Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) and Tom Hiddleston (High-Rise) are all nominated in the Best Actor category.

And last, but not least, in the Best International Independent Film category two of Film4′s most anticipated films are nominated. Lenny Abrahamson’s Room and Todd Haynes’ Carol, both of which are also generating much Academy Awards buzz across the pond.

David Kosse, Director of Film4, says: “I’m thrilled for all our filmmakers who have been nominated for this year’s BIFAs. These awards are vital in highlighting and recognising the work of independent British filmmaking talent and Film4 is immensely proud to have been involved in all of these projects. Good luck to all those nominated.”

The BIFAs are held on 6th December 2015 at Old Billingsgate in central London.