Tag: filmmaking

I can’t wait

So here I am back in London in my local Weatherspoons soaking up their joyous beer festival and having a beautiful pint of real ale. It was about a week ago that I’d raced here whilst being filmed by Phil (a film-graduate friend) who has been helping me edit a ‘series trailer’ which would introduce people to all my films in one go.

We had the crazy idea of using me as the link that makes the films relevant to today’s world, so what better than the filmmaker relaxing having a pint. But then, just like now, as soon as my lips hit the beer glass I am finished for the day and all I want to do is relax, chat, and enjoy the drunks around me.

But today I am not being lazy, I am celebrating my ‘new’ film being commissioned by the BBC, though I still need to get more funding from other sources before they (BBC) will actually cough up their contribution.

As a result I’m hitting everyone in every direction. Today I have taken a small step by successfully completing ‘The Media Fund’ development application (worth 50k) form. The hard work wasn’t down to me though, it was thankfully the responsibility of my producer friend Fiona who is an expert in such matters. It has taken months to find all the required information, Fiona masterly made the application even designing a cute ‘Tenfoot Films’ logo in the process. Now the development application is in, we move onto making the production application. This is a big job in itself; forget filmmaking, I am now a full-time fund-raiser.

And, as well as fund-raising and form-filling I still had to get the ‘series trailer’ completed for my German sales agents who are pitching my new film (and my back catalogue) in Cannes this week at MIPCOM one of the biggest TV sales events of the year.

Plus I am also waiting to hear from the NHK, the Japanese broadcasters, they may be buying in on the new film; and if so I need to know when… All I want now is for another ‘funder’ to come on board and offer us a semi-serious wadge and hey-presto the BBC money will be released and before you can blink I will be out of here – lost to the Middle East again… I can’t wait.

This fucking film

I must write back to Nizam. He’s been asking what I am trying to get at with this film, cautious that his family may be exposed in some dangerous way. It is a question everyone I film asks at some point, but I find it very difficult to answer. The truth is I’ve got no idea; it is my endless curiosity and determination that motivates my films, I never know what will happen, nor do I want to, for me this is real film making with a true sense of adventure.

I seek a mutually understood relationship/friendship based on trust. The people in my films have to want to give, otherwise it just doesn’t work. And sometimes, for many reasons, some people can’t do it. In Japan I must have met over 10 potential characters for my film; sometimes filming for months on end only to realise, eventually, that for one reason or another, it just wasn’t right.

Now, as Nizam faces a crossroads in his life I feel I am becoming more of a problem than a release for him, and with the added pressures from a difficult marriage I wonder how we can progress.

I was so disappointed after my recent ‘filming’ trip to Bergen, I felt like the standard BBC guy trying to get his story rather than the friend I’d become over the year or so of filming with him. But Nizam was never confident at being the character and only really agreed because he wanted to learn from me about this supposed crazy life making films.

Now he worries about exposing himself and feels invaded by my camera. Having been filmed myself and not enjoyed it one little bit, I know the feeling, I feel his pain. Nizam wants to know when it will all end, and I want to know when it will start. So I must write him a reply and hopefully answer that difficult question, why am I making this film and what am I trying to get at?

If only I knew.


Waiting for bloody Godot must have been easier than waiting for Nizam, my life seemingly revolves around waiting and waiting never knowing if he will show up or not. In Oslo he has a very busy work schedule and an extremely troubled family life, so he ends up bouncing from one to the other and now, he also has the problem of me and my needs thrown into the frantic mix. His partner is completely against us making this film and won’t even agree meet me. I sense, not surprisingly, that this added pressure is exactly what Nizam doesn’t need right now.

Torn between getting his family life back together and making a film with me he must obviously prioritise his home life, but when he said he was taking a vacation from Oslo to see a friend in Bergen it seemed a good time to catch-up and get some filming done.

For me it was also difficult to organize, I had my own kids to care about and managed to get my mother to come down to London, which allowed me to make a flying visit to Norway. Following my night-time arrival Nizam and I just sat and drank with his bubbly Iranian friend, I didn’t want to film on the first night and hoped to do some the next day but, as usual, I found myself imprisoned in my hostel waiting for his call.

Nizam eventually rang at 5 and we met in darkness at 8pm. I’d already given up the idea of filming this beautiful city with him, and anyway he wanted to cook something before taking off to a jam-night in a local bar. I saw a glimmer of hope, maybe I could at least film a cooking scene at his friends place, but this was short lived as he asked me to stop filming, he didn’t feel up to it.

So we ate the wonderful couscous he made and hit the bar, I tried filming but he wasn’t interested so I didn’t push it. Instead I watched the scenes we could have filmed. A great conversation with a Norwegian guy in the bar about the simple life he misses in Syria, followed by lots of Norwegians drinking and partying hard and then hordes of them drunk all along the streets as we headed home with my camera still locked in its bag.

Any-time soon I’m supposed to sign contracts with a German agent to sell this film, a film already commissioned by the BBC, nearly commissioned by the Japanese, and with a possibility of Norwegian TV coming on board too. Now I wonder what to do, do I push someone who isn’t interested in being filmed anymore, do I continue to try and convince Nizam of why he should be filmed, why it mattered to him and to me, or should I just cut my losses and call it a day?