Thursday, September 8, 2011

Andrew Haigh on "Weekend"

What was your filmmaking background before making Weekend?

ANDREW: I had worked as an assistant editor for what felt like a very long time. I'd been working on all kinds of films, from Gladiator to Mister Lonely, but felt I was getting trapped in a certain job when I always wanted to make my own films.

In the end I just decided enough was enough and I had to go out and make my own stuff.

I had done some shorts that had been on the festival circuit, but I decided to make a very small micro-budget feature to get things moving. It was called Greek Pete.

Filmed over a year it was docu-drama about London male escorts and it was released theatrically in the UK and on DVD in the US. This helped me raise a little bit of money for Weekend.

Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?

ANDREW: The idea came from a lot of things but primarily I just wanted to try and tell a realistic story about two guys falling for each other, have it be about aspects of the gay experience but also have be about so much more than that. The writing process was quite drawn out and the main challenge was to make it feel as naturalistic as possible, almost as if it were improvised, but at the same time enable the themes to come through.

Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?

ANDREW: We were funded by a mixture of public money in the UK, tax breaks and other bits and bobs. The budget was small but even when you're trying to raise a small amount of money it is tough - especially when you are not doing something particularly mainstream.

The plan for recoupment mainly comes from distribution companies buying the film although those amounts are never as much as you hope unless you are incredibly lucky. Money also can come in from festival play and the fees can quickly add up to a substantial amount. We are also hoping for a TV sale or two, probably in Europe.

Hopefully all of this will pay back the budget and then you just hope the film is a big success!

What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?

ANDREW: We shot on the Canon 5d but with cinema lenses and a massive rig which ended up making it about as big as a RED camera. I love the image quality you can get from something relatively cheap and small, but it does have its problems. It's not made as a video camera so it can be frustrating to use in terms of attaching monitors etc and the workflow is bit of a nightmare.

I don't think my DP would really want to use it again, although I think she did an amazing job. You also have to careful with focusing and not get too caught up in the shallow depth of field the camera can achieve, otherwise it will look like a music video rather than a film. It's also not fantastic in bright light but luckily when we shot there was a lot of cloud.

What are the advantages -- and possible disadvantages -- to being the editor on a film that you also wrote and directed?

ANDREW: I always knew I wanted to edit the film and for me it is simply an extension of directing. I think maybe it's partly because I'm a control freak, but also because I'm from an editing background it makes sense to do it myself.

For me personally when I edit I discover what works simply by trying different things without really knowing where it is heading. I think I would drive an editor completely crazy. Of course you do loose objectivity and that is the biggest problem but I always figure you loose that anyway whether your are editing yourself or sitting in the same room as an editor.

Editing is a strange part of the process when you are all alone with your film trying to make it work, discovering what you've done right and what you done wrong. I both love and hate that feeling in equal measures.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

ANDREW: The smartest thing was hiring Tom and Chris, the two actors, because if they hadn't been great and the chemistry between them believable then the film would have been complete garbage. I think also keeping the crew tiny and shooting in order was also incredibly helpful in making the film feel real and authentic.

The dumbest? Not sure. I got drunk one night and my hangovers make me very irritable which is never a good thing when you're trying to make a film.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?

ANDREW: I think I've learnt a way of working that I really enjoy and a way of making a set work that I think creates the right tone for the type of films I want to make. Of course I've made mistakes as well, which I hope to not do again, although more than likely, I will.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I just saw this movie and loved it. I was wondering what camera the camera person/DP used because I saw her interviewed in some of the extras and I am interested in portable camera rigs.

Thanks for the info.

The film was so wonderful because it felt so authentic. The conversations and actions were very lifelike without being gritty.