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BAFTA Digital Creativity Nomination

16 Apr, 2012 Posted in: Awards

We’re absolutely thrilled to start the week with the news that Film4′s first ever multiplatform commission has been nominated for a BAFTA for Digital Creativity in the upcoming Craft Awards.

DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE takes the form of a darkly playful interactive experience inspired by Carol Morley’s acclaimed feature film Dreams of a Life.

Morley’s documentary movingly pieces together the true story of thirty-eight year old Joyce Vincent, whose skeleton was discovered in her bedsit three years after she had died.

The accompanying digital experience www.dreamsofyourlife.com was commissioned by Hilary Perkins for Film4 and developed by game design studio Hide&Seek as a thought-provoking and moving response to the themes explored in the film.

Award-winning writer A.L. Kennedy crafted the absorbing and sometimes unnerving narrative, which prompts responses to questions on society, friendship, love and loneliness. This is played against the backdrop of beautiful and haunting time-lapse imagery, created by artist and photographer Lottie Davies.

Multiplatform Commissioner Hilary Perkins told me the project was fascinating “Our usual approach to working with stories in a digital way is usually to tease out the characters and narrative and play them out via things like social networks, games or mobile apps. But Joyce’s story and the film Dreams of a Life are very different so we had to find a different approach. The film evokes some complex emotional responses, and Dreams of Your Life gets right to the essence of how Joyce’s story makes us feel, and weaves these personal feelings with the themes of the film. It’s unlike anything I’ve commissioned before, and Film4 took a big risk in having this as a first multiplatform commission, so I’m hugely excited that it’s been recognised with this nomination.”

The experience has since engaged tens of thousands of users and demonstrably driven never-before-reached audiences to the feature documentary. It has also offered audiences of the film an opportunity to further immerse themselves in the themes of the film and to understand their own place in the world following the emotional journey of the film.

The “thought-provoking and emotional experience” has already been named among Creative Review’s best projects of the year and Fast Company perhaps most poignantly noted “There’s something sadly true about [the site]: The best way to learn about the perils of not connecting with the people around you is to spend a half an hour on an awesomely absorbing website, not connecting with the people around you.”

Film4.0 have since built on this fantastic success with the innovative street game extension Would Anyone Miss You? which was launched at SXSW to great acclaim.

Alex Fleetwood, Director of Hide&Seek told me “we’re absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for this award, which recognises the craft of many collaborators, to whom we’re very grateful. It’s our belief that the future of transmedia work lies in genuine collaboration between designers, developers, artists and film-makers, and we hope that this project is a positive step towards that goal.”

Congratulations to the whole team and to our colleagues at Channel 4 who’ve scooped two of the other 3 nominations in the category for their amazing work on MISFITS and LIVE FROM THE CLINIC!

You can play DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE here and the DVD of the film is out now and available to buy here.

Day 6 at SXSW

15 Mar, 2012 Productions Posted in: Festivals, Film4 staff, Film4.0

Today is my last day in Austin and although the film conference has finished there are still tons of movies to see and lots of people to meet.

The music conference is kicking off so the streets are awash with beardy guys in check shirts carrying guitars. All the little parks are booming with live bands and things are definitely getting turned up to 11 here – the interactive closing party yesterday even featured Kasabian!

I started the day with a screening of feature doc ITALY: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT directed by Gustav Hofer and Luca Ragazzi, the pair have to decide: should they stay in Italy, or leave it, like so many of their friends have done already? Looking for reasons not to do the same, the two Italians jump into their old Fiat 500 and go on a emotional trip through their country to find out. The film combines documentary and animation to present a witty and charming yet still incisive view of modern Europe at a time of crisis.

After that I got to catch up with Matt Dentler who was head of the film conference here before Janet Pierson took up the role 4 years ago. He’s just moved from Cinetic Media, which includes the brilliant FilmBuff, to work for iTunes to manage independent film relationships which is great news for indie films on such a big platform.

Then it was off to a screening of feature documentary SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN which tells the true story of the greatest ’70s US rock icon who never was, how he was rediscovered in a far off land and finally became the legend he always deserved to be. It is a story of hope, inspiration and the power of music.

Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, and produced by British documentary supremos John Battsek and Simon Chinn (whose joint credits include PROJECT NIM), the film had the whole audience up for a standing ovation and the cheers only got louder when a very special guest was brought out on stage – but to tell you more would be one heck of a spoiler! There’s a pic of festival head honcho Janet Pierson on stage below.

SUGARMAN was my last film of the festival and a beautifully uplifting one to end what has been a fantastic week full of talent, ideas and an all-encompassing passion in everyone I’ve met for telling great stories and connecting with audiences. Can’t wait until next year …

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Day 5 at SXSW

14 Mar, 2012 Productions Posted in: Festivals, Film4 staff, Film4.0

Today kicked off with brunch with Will Sharpe & Tom Kingsley, BAFTA nominated directors of super low budget British film BLACK POND, to hear about how well the film has been going down with the audiences here. It’s a great, inventive and fresh film that I heartily recommend you see.

We also had both the Film4 films at the festival screening today with another packed DREAMS OF A LIFE screening and an as-always brilliant Q&A with Carol. She will be blogging for us here again soon.

Then it was a quick dash across town to the big Paramount Theatre for THE IMPOSTER screening. Bart Layton’s brilliant thriller-doc tells the story of how in 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappeared from his home in San Antonio,Texas.

Three and a half years later he is found alive thousands of miles away in Spain with a shocking story of kidnap and torture. His family are overjoyed to bring him home. But all is not what it seems. He bears many of the same marks but why does he have a strange accent? Why does he look so different? And why doesn’t the family notice these glaring inconsistencies? It’s only when an investigator starts asking questions that this astonishing true story takes an even stranger turn…

The large cinema was really full and lively which was great for Bart and his producer Dimitri Doganis who have a great Q&A at the end for an audience eager to ask more about the British filmmakers Texan adventure.

There are some pics from the screening just below!

After that I nipped just next door to the Stateside Theatre – there’s a lot of cinemas in Austin! – to see first feature from writer director Rebecca Thomas,
ELECTRICK CHILDREN.

The film starts on the 15th birthday of Rachel, a young Mormon girl from a fundamentalist Utah community, who discovers a forbidden cassette tape with rock music on it. Having never heard anything like it, she has a miraculous experience and three months later, claims to have had an immaculate conception from listening to the music. Her parents arrange a marriage, but Rachel runs away to the closest city, Las Vegas, to search for the man who sings on the tape, thinking he has something to do with her mysterious pregnancy…

It’s a beautiful film filled with wit and a magical tone thanks to brilliant performances from the whole cast (most notably Julia Garner, Rory Culkin and Billy Zane) and great cinematography. Chatting the the director Becca later it was great to hear how her own upbringing as a Mormon ignited her fascination for the more fundamentalist Mormons she would occasionally glimpse Nevada. She’s certainly quite a talent to watch.

The big event of the day was the Film Awards ceremony where I had to represent the Short Documentary Jury. We awarded the prize – in a really tough category because films were all so wonderful – to a film called CATCAM by director Seth Keal.

The short is entertaining and charming, and a film that took the audience on a very complete an beautifully crafted journey which started with a technical question and took us to an emotional connection. All through the story of a German man that puts a camera around his cat’s neck because he wants to know what it gets up to when it leaves the house.

I was the only British person taking part in the awards ceremony and narrowly escaped a ribbing from awards host Doug Benson (stand up comedian and star of SUPER HIGH ME), but the whole show went brilliantly. There was even a special jury mention in the poster competition for Film4 short PITCH BLACK HEIST – a nice way of rounding off the day!

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Day 4 at SXSW

13 Mar, 2012 Productions Posted in: Festivals, Film4 staff, Film4.0

Today was the big day for our Digital Domain panel presenting a case study of our cross platform commission DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE as a parallel project to Carol Morley’s wonderful film DREAMS OF A LIFE which you can catch up on by reading her blog from SXSW so far here.

New for 2012, The Digital Domain has been created to address new directions in narrative and non-fiction, via new platforms, media and tools, in the hands of a new generation of storytelling pioneers.

Bringing together web series’, cross-platform projects, interactive documentaries, apps and more, The Digital Domain presents a series of programs and events across 4 days, in the Austin Suite at the Austin Convention Center. As the tools available to filmmakers and digital creatives evolve, so must the conversation, and The Digital Domain aims to help exhibit innovative new work – including our project – and further that discussion. You can see a pic of our huge nameplates for the talk below.

The turnout was good (always a concern when there are superstars like Al Gore & Sean Parker, Seth MacFarlane or Joss Whedon giving keynotes in the same building!) and what was particularly great is that we were able to bring the panel to life by inviting the audience to engage with our BFI & British Council partnered film promotion project “Would Anyone Miss You” or “WAMY” as it’s been called on Twitter!

Our panel included Margaret Robertson and Alex Fleetwood from Hide&Seek who created both DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE and it’s SXSW extension WAMY, artist and photographer Lottie Davies who created the imagery for the game and Hilary Perkins, our Multiplatform Commissioner for Film & Drama who commissioned the game and worked on it’s development right from the start.

We got some great questions and it was most satisfying to see people heading out at the end chatting about the WAMY game stickers and noting down the film screening times to go through to see the film – which is of course our ultimate goal and the reason for our partnership with the BFI and British Council on bringing this game to SXSW.

The rest of the day was racing between meetings, panels and networking sessions. Dashing between things at the Convention Centre I spotted the marketing stunt of the day (there’s a lot here at SXSW!) in the form of the Skype Town Cryer – a man reading out your hashtagged tweets to an assembled crowd of festival-goers! There’s a pic below.

Tomorrow is the big Paramount Theatre screening for Bart Layton’s THE IMPOSTER which will be a great moment for the team – Bart will be blogging here for us soon to let you all know how that goes!

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Day 3 at SXSW

12 Mar, 2012 Productions Posted in: Festivals, Film4 staff, Film4.0

Today the sun peeked out for us all and made for a nice Austin afternoon…

I kicked off the day with a breakfast meeting with the lovely Molly Thompson from A&E Indie Films who are our partners on lots of great work, most recently Bart Layton’s THE IMPOSTER. They make some of the biggest feature docs and if you’re a fan of the likes of THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE or JESUS CAMP you should check out their productions.

As the morning was still fairly grey, I stayed in the Convention Centre – the hub of all the SX action – to see 2 panels. Both were in the festival’s new Digital Domain forum which is about bringing film and interactive people together in new and more meaningful ways.

It’s where we’ll be doing our panel tomorrow which is a case study on DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE, the interactive sister project to Carol Morley’s hugely moving documentary DREAMS OF A LIFE which is screening at the festival.

We’ve also this year, thanks to invaluable partnership support from the British Film Institute and the British Council, commissioned a street game extension of the online DREAMS experience to help raise awareness of the film’s screenings and support the sales of the film internationally.

So when the sun came out I took the opportunity to play it myself!

The game is called “Would Anyone Miss You” and is played with a sticker sheet that gives you missions. You must find someone you want to give a sticker to and ask them the question that is the title of one of your 4 missions. When the person answers you submit the responses on a simple site and get a personally crafted response that makes you think about the connections you make and the people that miss you while you’re at the festival.

When you complete the game you can go and claim your reward – a photo of you with a message to someone you miss by artist Lottie Davies who worked on the DREAMS OF YOUR LIFE imagery – and the participants so far are showcased on www.wouldanyonemissyou.com.

Clutching my beautiful print from Lottie I raced back indoors to see THE HUNTER an Australian feature starring Willem Defoe and directed by Daniel Nettheim.

The film is the story of Martin, a skilled and ruthless mercenary sent into the Tasmanian wilderness on a hunt for a tiger believed to be extinct. Hired by an anonymous company that wants the tiger’s genetic material, Martin arrives in Tasmania posing as a scientist. He proceeds to set up base camp at a broken-down farmhouse, where he stays with a family whose father has gone missing. Usually a loner, Martin becomes increasingly close to the family; however, as his attachment to the family grows, Martin is led down a path of unforeseen dangers, complicating his deadly mission.

The film shoots the hugely diverse Tasmanian landscape so well it makes you want to be there – but perhaps not come across Willem with a gun in a dark forest while you’re there! There’s a pic of Daniel & Willem on stage below.

My big duty of the day was taking part in the festival’s filmmaker support sessions as an International Mentor for writers, directors and producers that want to understand how to make and distribute their work in the increasingly globalised marketplace.

It was an intense set of sessions – 1.5 hours of 10 minute one-to-one meetings – but a great range of projects and plans from the 9 teams I met.

The final event of the day was the UK Film Commission reception. They’re the LA-based outpost of the BFI, encouraging international filmmakers and studios to make films in and with the UK, securing really vital inward investment for our industry and supporting collaborations right across the road.

After all that came my treat of the day – going to see the one and only SXSW screening of buzz title THE RAID.

The film follows Rama, a member of a special forces team, arriving at a rundown apartment block with a mission to remove its owner, a notorious drug lord. The building has become a sanctuary to killers, gangs, rapists and thieves seeking accommodation in the one place they know they cannot be touched by the police. When a spotter blows their cover, Rama and his team must fight their way through every floor and every room not just to complete their mission but to survive their bloody ordeal.

An Indonesian martial arts epic, you might be surprised to find its directed by a Welshman! Gareth Huw Evans writes, directs and edits this hugely impressive film and I can’t wait to see more great things that will certainly come from such a filmmaking talent. You can see a pic of Gareth & his composers on stage for a very lively Q&A below.

Pulsing with energy, action and wit, It was a great way to round of a busy SXSW day!

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