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2011, 85m, drama, family
Sometimes, life takes the most unexpected of turns. When their parents are killed in a tragic accident, Elva and Sammy run away from home; heading East to find a better life. But things don't go to plan and all too soon they're in need of help. Then they meet Tristant, a French man on a journey of his own, who takes them under his wing and in the short time that they have together, an extraordinary bond begins to grow between them.
Produced by: Leonora Moore, Andrew Gale
Cast: Greg Patmore, Nancy Orchis-Evans, Leonora Moore
10 questions with East director, Leonora Moore at the half-way mark.
Saturday, February 6th, 2016
1This is such a beautiful film. What was the initial seed that made you want to make this film? I wanted to capture that moment of confusion between a young woman, or rather a girl who is fast becoming a woman, and an older man; when they confuse a rapidly blooming friendship and close bond with sexual attraction, almost like it's what 'has' to happen, or what that friendship 'must' mean if you become that close to someone in such a short space of time. In that instant, I became fascinated with the idea and began wondering how I could capture this on screen. That was the initial seed.
2Do you find it difficult to act and direct at the same time? How do you do it? This is the only time I've acted and directed at the same time, and it worked primarily because it was a relatively simple shoot, as in, I didn't have to manage and direct a large crew, it was just Andrew [Gale] (DOP) and Mat [Halliday] (Assistant Director). Andrew and I had spent lots of time in the run up to filming, planning exactly how each scene was going to be shot, so that I was free to concentrate on working alongside Greg and Nancy once we were on set. Most of the 'directing' actually happened before shoot, in the form of Greg and I reading through and exploring the scenes together, so that on the day itself we were already familiar with what we wanted to get from each scene and were free to pretty much let go and play. I did watched a couple of takes back during filming, but the majority of the time, if it had felt right and Andrew had okay'ed it on camera, I was happy to move on.
3You got such a great performance out of the child actress who plays your sister (Nancy Boo Orchis-Evans). What did you do to get such natural performances from a child? Nancy herself is just so awesomely natural in front of camera. She doesn't play up to it. She was able to sense what a scene or dialogue exchange was about, and just kind of became a part of it, without trying to make it big and balloony. I saw that pretty quickly when she came to audition and got pretty excited. Aside from that, I knew the film would rest on believing our sisterly bond and so we spent time before the shoot just hanging out and playing games and having fun. I recorded the songs that we sing in the film together for Nancy to listen to and then when we hung out, we'd sing them together, so that we knew them off by heart and they became quite special to us actually, like 'our' songs. Also, I must add, that Nancy learns lines better than most professional actors I know (she knew mine and Greg's too!) and so I could just tell her what scene we were going to do and what I wanted her to do in it, and the dialogue kind of came out naturally amidst whatever we ended up physically doing in that scene. The scene where she's crying at the beginning was just amazing to shoot, with all that raw emotion pouring out of her, but I'll save those details for a chat over a drink :)
4I loved the scene where you and Tristant (played by Greg Patmore) are first sharing a glass of wine. It's one beautifully long take and the acting is fantastic. How much planning/rehearsing/shooting went into that scene? Thanks! :) This was probably mine and Greg's favourite scene to shoot. I'd always planned to have this scene play out as one long continuous shot (much more of the film was meant to be like this, but I had to compromise on quite a few earlier scenes in the edit) and we were both keen to 'not' over rehearse it, because we knew that the key to it working would be the spontaneity and natural flow between us. So we read it through a few times, but specifically didn't ever 'act it out', just got familiar with the flow of it and then looked forward to giving it a go on the day, fresh. We did actually get the camcorder out to test several angles as we were reading through, because we were torn between shooting this scene with us both facing the camera (a bit like that scene from 'Lost In Translation'), or shooting it in profile (seeing less of each of us, but ultimately keeping the interaction between ourselves as full on and deep as we could). It was an easy choice in the end, but that was the one bit of 'testing' that went into it. As for shooting it on the day, we got it in one take. We actually shot a second take as a back-up, but that never got used.
5What film or films made you want to become a filmmaker? The Matrix. Terminator 2. E.T. Star Wars. But I think later on down the line, more arty films and slower paced films where the camera seemed to act as a floating observer, watching relatively mundane events unfold without ever cutting to a different angle, grabbed my attention. I wanted to put the concentration fully on the actors and their interactions within an unbroken series of moments. '4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days' was a big inspiration for me in making 'East'.
6How big was your crew and how did you find them? Tiny! It was a 2-man crew. I'd met Andrew (DOP - and everything else behind-camera!) the year before when he was directing his own feature film (and in which I played one of the female characters) and Mat (Assitant Director) was helping out in any which way that he could. Mat was a friend from my home town Sandbach, and I knew he was interested in filmmaking, so I asked him if he'd like to help out as a kind of general 'hands on deck'. That was our entire crew. Greg himself was holding the boom mic in several scenes.
7What was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Shooting without permission. We filmed the opening scene in Chester rogue.
8You write, direct, act, sing, and play music. What's something you can't do? Well, I 'sang' and 'played' the guitar, yes, but neither was done particularly 'well'. It worked well for my character though, Elva, and where she was at with her confidence levels.
9 If you had an unlimited budget and had access to any actor or actress you wanted, what kind of film would you love to make? Ahhh. That's a toughie. Part of what I love about making these no-budget 'indie' films is the challenge of having no budget, which basically means you're spending every second of every day figuring out solutions to a multitude of problems and challenges. Hmmm, I have two extremes; I'd love to create something very simple, very character focused, like 'East' I guess, but without the million compromises that come from having no budget. And then I would also love to make my own fantasy film, something spectacularly epic, set in a parallel world, but grounded in terms of its believability. Jennifer Lawrence. James McAvoy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Pratt are all actors and actresses I hugely admire and would love to work with.
10What's next? Filming with my brother. We co-direct together now and are about to launch our co-directed feature 'Made In Taiwan' which we shot in Taipei about a year ago. I'd also like to act more, separately to directing.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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