Paul Hills’ weekly post production blog

Weekly Blog 15 (February 16th)

Home today unusually. I’m half dead with flu, shivering uncontrollably no matter how many layers I wrap myself up in. I am snoozing for an hour or two than pulling myself out of bed so I can do a little work, return e mails, do follow ups to Berlin, write this…

I came down with it yesterday while at the production office going through the infamous receipts with Jonnie. I had felt a bit stuffy the night before but the alternate fever and shaking started at midday while trying to find a €70.00 Intermarche receipt. Anyway, we now have about 99 percent of them and they seem to tally with the bank statements. Although not ordered absolutely perfectly, they were nearly all there, and I am glad to say the chapter of lack of financial knowledge, like the chapter of lack of synced rushes, are both behind us now.

I left Berlin on Monday night, going almost straight from a meeting to the airport. Job done is how I would describe it, people know it is coming. It’s just a matter of delivering with the rough cut. The night before I had a very pleasant meal with Jonnie, Sally Hibbin, a young producer I am trying to work with called Steve Dimarco and an old friend Alex Ross.

Alex has lived in Berlin now for well over a decade and that means I have only been able to see him about three times since. Like me, he is a director. Many people think making films in Europe is easier than the UK. In France that may be true but everywhere else it is just as hard. He has made two films since leaving Bournemouth Film School where I met him and also Martin Parry, my camera operator of choice in 1990. We shared a house together with two others and my mind is indelibly etched with squirrels on the balcony, loud late night playing of The Clash, vegetarian pasta and petty criminality!

After a lovely Thai meal, in a smoky bar (Sally’s preference) we went through the number of people in our year who have since fallen by the roadside, probably about 95%. That’s quite a Darwinian fall off. Bizarrely, also, the most successful are probably; Joe Cornish, Jonathon English (the only sane Producer on my film The Poet) and me! I say bizarrely as I wasn’t actually on the course. Another friend of ours, Andy Saunders, had asked me to repeat what we had done together at the NFTS the year before and come to Bournemouth to produce his graduation film. I am in the graduation photo though. Alex isn’t – he kind of boycotted it.

Alex was very sweet about me supporting him back then when he made his graduation film “Jacob’s Ladder”. It was 38 minutes long and the film school wanted him to cut it just for the sake of making it shorter. That was ridiculous as the film was made with a lot of long sequence shots and the only way to shorten it would be to use jump cuts or loose them completely. The film worked perfectly as it was and I told him so. He kept to his guns and the film was one of the most successful the film school ever made.

One thing that popped into my head while we were out together was the day in the forest when I ate the mushrooms that could have been toxic. The reason being was when Jonnie texted me saying there was a 33% chance of me dying was I immediately though who was going to finish the film. My first idea of course was Roger, my second was Alex. We have a similar artistic sensibility I think.

My only tinge of disappointment In Berlin was with Steve Dimarco who I mentioned before. He wants to produce the next film I will do with Jonnie. The problem is through most of the Berlin trip he barely said a word. What’s the key to being a good producer? The first thing is they have to talk to people! The best I’ve worked with is Paul Trijbits, some people love him, some hate him, but I‘ve never seen someone work a room as well as him. Never. He knows everyone and the people he doesn’t know he just goes up and says “I’m Paul Trijbits” and sticks out his hand. Steve unfortunately still has some way to go.

All this does is make me more convinced my next film will be “The Cult”.

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