Monday, 16 November 2009

SWF: Simon Beaufoy


Right Darling Ones, do you remember how I said the theme of SWF seemed to be relationships? This was certainly borne out by Simon Beaufoy's entertaining conversation with Peter Bloore.

After his success with The Full Monty, a year of being pursued by irate male strippers and endless legal complications, he went on to make Blow Dry and The Water Horse but found both experiences difficult and was therefore obliged to rethink his strategies on how to get his films made. It came down to this: There is an art to sitting in a room with other people, all of whom have very definite ideas as to how the film should be made. Simon was very protective of his scripts and found it very threatening to hear a waterfall of other people's ideas about his pet project.

What he discovered is that a script is malleable providing the core of the story is the same. Anyone putting up money for production has a right to be heard and it's important to find a median way forward.

The trick is that after a meeting, everyone leaves the room feeling that they have gained something. The project moves forward as do the conversations about it. Momentum is key! It's about having the confidence to absorb the views of others and realising that the bits round the edge of the script can alter without harming the core.

He found after Blow Dry that it was a salutary experience to go back to low-budget productions. This Is Not a Love Song was shot for under £100,000. Simon enjoyed the constraints of having dual roles in the production, the rehearsals took two weeks, the script 10 days and the shooting 10 days also. He enjoyed the organic nature of how it evolved, retained an Indie voice, got round the stultifying aspects of a long drawn-out development process. But it's still about the relationships you make, being able to handle critique and the noble art of collaboration. Take notes well and incorporate the good ideas of others.

He also spoke about product placement on Slumdog Millionaire. The money was put up by Celador, whose concept 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' is strongly featured. Although the film seemed to be saying the opposite, Celador were still happy to have their brand in the film.

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