Page 11

BFI_Filmmakers_Issue_5_V10

no monitor and I couldn’t see what she was doing because we were shooting at night. When I went back to the cutting room, I reaslised there was so much subtle stuff going on there. So we thought, why don’t we just write this for her? She can carry a lot with her physicality. Did you involve her in that writing process? I write maybe a two-hundred-page bio on the character, as detailed as I can and I would send chunks to Emily and we’d discuss it. For example, we made up that Daphne had been an English Lit student at East Anglia and had dropped out after the first year because she realised it was a waste of time. I went through the first year set texts list and Daphne’s ideas are often based on that first year of philosophy and English Lit. So I’d say to Emily, read these books. But we didn’t improvise anything and she didn’t write. She’s obviously an actor on the rise too. It was really lucky for us, we made the short and then a few days later she was off doing Hail, Caesar! (She plays the actress opposite Alden Ehrenreich in the “Would that it were so simple” scene.) She does look like a silent movie star. And she’s got a great face. My favourite actress is probably Gena Rowlands and I love A Woman Under the Influence. When I saw the short with Emily wandering around, I thought there were some moments that “We tend to create characters based on amalgams of people we know” reminded me of that. Would that be one of your influences for Daphne? A Cassavetestype character study? We created a document where we outlined some of the films and characters we liked. One of the big movies that we all loved is Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, which I think is an astonishing film. and a massive influence on us. Strangely enough so was the Bob Rafelson film Five Easy Pieces. For us, Daphne is in some way a female version of the Jack Nicholson character in that. But probably the biggest influence on our film is the way that Gordon Willis shot Manhattan. In what way? We tried not to ape it, but Manhattan is shot on three lenses, so we decided to use three lenses too. Primarily a 40mm lens. You don’t feel the camera but you feel the world, if you see what I mean. You also chose to work with a first-time feature cinematographer, Adam Scarth, whereas many debut feature directors choose a more experienced DoP. Tristan Goligher brought Adam to our attention. He’d made lots of ads and shorts and we thought he was really interesting. We quickly realised we were on the same page, with the motivation of the camera related to the characters. So we made a set of strict aesthetic criteria and stuck to them. If you notice, the film doesn’t have any cutaways and I didn’t want tracking or handheld camera. It was a high-risk strategy for a first-time director and DoP working together, but you only get one first film so we decided to hold our nerve. The south London locations really fit Daphne’s character too. It was all shot in and around Elephant & Castle with the exception of the restaurant. I love the area and, because it’s Zone 1, it’s undergoing massive development and change. So I thought that’s the most interesting place to set the film, it represents the character. And Daphne would never live in East London! That extends to the production design and costumes too. Miren Maranon the film’s production designer is fantastic. We wanted to show London in a way that wasn’t social realist and not that kind of polished Notting Hill sort of look either. London is pretty colourful now, especially compared to when I was a kid in the 1980s, so we thought we could use a strong colour block palette in a contemporary film set in London. The fantasy we made is that the flat Daphne lives in is on East Street Market, so pretty much everything character-based in the film is sourced from there. Peter Mackie Burns (photo: Julie Cooper) DAPHNE DIRECTOR Peter Mackie Burns PRODUCERS Valentina Brazzini, Tristan Goligher WRITER Nico Mensinga KEY CAST Emily Beecham, Geraldine James, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor PRODUCTION COMPANY The Bureau PRODUCTION PARTNERS BFI, Creative Scotland, The Bureau SALES COMPANY The Bureau Sales UK DISTRIBUTOR Altitude Film Distribution Peter Mackie Burns and Emily Beecham on set


BFI_Filmmakers_Issue_5_V10
To see the actual publication please follow the link above