Cosmic Rock

Tonight our guest on Cosmic Rock’s FILM is Russell Richardson. Russell Craig Richardson is a British writer, filmmaker, editor and translator who has been living in the USA for the past 20 years. He works regularly with international musicians and artists to produce collaborations for new media - concerts, dance, gallery pieces, and installations. His current projects involve a group of ‘social’ science fiction stories; the image elements of a new music opera; and a documentary film on the post-punk scene in early 1980s London. Enjoy this fascinating conversation with Russell on many excellent subjects.


1.Hey Russell, how have you been? It’s great to speak with you today. Tell us a little about your background. You’re originally from England? Tell us about your journey and history in film.

I come from a small industrial working-class town (Barrow-in-Furness) in the north of England, closest to the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. My family moved to Manchester when I was 10, in the late 1960s. As a kid we’d watch the local TV news programs (there were only 2 channels in the UK at that time!) which sometimes featured this band from down-the-road called ‘The Beatles’. You might have heard of them... What they did, with their ‘non-British’ accents and long hair, was let my generation know you could come from a provincial backwater and still make some kind of mark on the world. They also sparked or made visible a whole set of other arts and artists (Paul McCartney’s brother Mike was a situationist and a poet, and had a few witty musical hits under an assumed name. Look up ‘The Scaffold’.) So, at that time, growing up into some kind of increased prosperity made us believe (I now know, for the first time...) that we could do something meaningful AND interesting with our lives. I was just a little young at that time to add the third element, which was: have fun... (which almost always involves other people...)

I ended up in London and immersed myself in world cinema. Then, for whatever reasons (I don’t know what they were!) I ended up living in Paris for 20 years. Which is truly the world mecca of cinema. (Can I say mecca?) It’s the Mecca of Cinema. There, that looks better.

What’s important to me is that while I did not go to film school, I was absolutely avid to learn every single element of the filmmaking process. That meant the writing, shooting, camerawork, editing, the nitty-gritty of production, color correction, film stocks, sound recording, mixing, optical effects: the lot. That’s been a joy for me from the late 70s onward, in 16mm, early video, online editing and new ‘GoPro’ stuff. It’s all good.

As for film history, the only correct answer to the question, ’What should I watch?’ is: EVERYTHING. That means not just someone’s ideas about Classic Films, but absolutely everything. Old films, new films, comedies, horror, sci-fi, silent movies, Brazilian soap operas, Indian historical epics, Rumanian social-realist tracts, Australian poetic masterpieces, 1940s Hollywood musicals, British schlock from the mid 1960s, John Ford Westerns and everything that Orson Welles or Buster Keaton ever touched. Should I go on?

I’d always been attracted to the avant-garde - it just seemed more interesting, but I am from an Irish family (my lot immigrated to England (or emigrated from Ireland) at the same time all those other millions headed for New York), so I have no problems with storytelling.

Frankly, a lot of artfilm makers do have problems with it, on principle, which is OK, I’m happy to watch non-narrative cinema, but I don’t see visual beauty and complexity and storytelling as being mutually exclusive.

As Ornette Coleman said: there’s only two types of music: music with words; and music without words.


2.Growing up what inspired you to be involved in film and the arts?

Listening to music, watching TV and movies and reading books. Getting huge pleasure from all the above, and imagining I might be able to produce something, in turn.

I think there were two main strands in that, related to my particular origins in 1960/70 Britain - none of this is really revolutionary, but it’s starting to seem that way, given the changes the world has undergone - the first is that growing up, there was free healthcare, free education (that includes college) and libraries, the BBC, and cheap books available. So everyone had an interest in education in the broadest sense. If that didn’t grab you, that was OK, but no-one was forced to give up because they ‘couldn’t afford it’. The general atmosphere was that you could go as far as you wanted to go.

As for the Arts - our first access was via the cinema and music - popular in both cases, but pretty wide-ranging. For me it was music first (I was in a bunch of amateur blues groups and then what you might call ‘prog’ bands in the early 70s) The second thing was that - even more so for my parents’ generation, in the working classes, playing an instrument was as natural and essential as learning to read and write, everyone played a musical instrument, or sang, or was interested in, and inspired by music. In my own school, say from the age of 12 onwards, of about 100 kids in my grade, at least 60 were in a band of some kind (and that’s not including those who had been classically trained, and were in choirs or orchestras, though there was a lot of overlap, too) and that was what we spent all of our time and effort doing, talking about, and organizing our social lives around.

Film, for me, came later, as a young adult, but had started with the BBC, which has always shown movies uncut and without commercial breaks. Again, I think it’s important that access to culture in its broadest meaning should be free, or perhaps a better word is accidental. Because once you put a price ticket on, you immediately exclude everyone who is obliged to be careful with their money. I was lucky enough to grow up in a climate where that was the normal way of looking at the Arts. At first, at least, the Arts came to you. To be even more precise, the Arts were brought to you.


Tell us a little about your influences when starting music?


I grew up listening to all the pop greats of the 1960s on the radio, but by the time I started playing, I wanted something more driving, and more wild. That was when rock was splitting off into sub-genres, and record companies were setting up ‘cool’ subsidiaries to handle underground bands. My high-school band started out playing stuff by Wishbone Ash and the Groundhogs (great, very under-rated band, there) while we were listening to Deep Purple and I remember buying the Black Sabbath single ‘Paranoid’ mainly so I could gaze at the Vertigo label, which was an off center spiral, very trippy. We also did a killer cover of Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’. All of this with the magic sum of £10 per item, as I recall: my first electric guitar was a Hofner, and it cost £10; the amp I bought to go with it was custom made by a small electronics shop in manchester, called mazel Radio, and the 10watt amp was called a Mazeltoff. We’d put two guitars and a vocal through that little rig, though it had a Goodman’s speaker (you guessed it, 10”) so sounded quite OK.

Soon after that we all glided in the direction of Soft Machine, King Crimson and Yes - quite aware that we didn’t have the chops to play those Steve Howe or Robert Fripp runs. I’d just say that we did try. One or two of our friends really were the business, though, and the high-school scene was pretty supportive and friendly, as I recall. Room enough for everyone!


3.Did you visit any timeless old theatres in England and see any classics that made a lasting impression and in what ways?


Haha. Yes. For several years I was a projectionist in one of London’s best, best movie theaters: The Scala. We showed everything! Two films a day, plus 5 or 6 overnight on Fridays and Saturdays when we did not close (from Friday noon to Sunday 11 pm we ran films continuously). But to get me to that I’d cite just three films, three epiphanies which really did change my life.

1967: my parents took me t o see ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ at the Cinerama in Manchester. I was so stunned I think I stopped talking for at least a day. I was vaguely intellectually aware, as an 11-year-old, that a human being had actually made the damned thing, but I also felt I’d seen something of the Hand of the Old Testament God.

I was of the Church of Cinema from that point onward.


As a solitary young man, aged 20 (not lonely, but much given to wandering around in the rain on my own) I was also knocked sideways when I saw ‘Taxi Driver’ in my local cinema. I dragged my friends to see it five times (I think) in the same week. That film convinced me I ought to try to get into filmmaking (but How? When? Where?) and also spurred me to come to the USA and try to get to grips with American culture and all its contradictions and beauty. (I managed to do that in 1978 and 79, before returning to Europe until the year 2001)


Then I’d say my third epiphany was being told to see some obscure little film in a very dingy theater in Chinatown, London (it showed kung-fu films most of the time, but put on ‘unknown’ arthouse & foreign films usually in just one or two screenings during the weekdays). I walked in on the German film ‘The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser’ by Werner Herzog, and that was that.


Then, as a projectionist I started to see so many unbelievable films from the 1920s onwards, from every country in the world, that it all became a kind of blur. A couple of films still stand out, though. Films that I maybe watched alone, on a day off, in an almost empty cinema, walking home in a total daze.

Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’ did that to me. As did Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’. And a little known British scandal-horror film called ‘Peeping Tom’. On a gentler note, Victor Erice’s Spanish film ‘Spirit of the Beehive’ actually made me cry, which is no mean feat. I’m a tough bastard when it comes to movies. I’d also very highly recommend ‘Happy Together’ by Wong Kar-Wai.


4.These days you live in New York. How do you feel about the film scene today?


This is where I start to feel like a fraud. In the old days, I’d see about 500 films a year, and now I see about 50 - and most of those are fairly mainstream. I really miss being dragged out to watch an Algerian documentary , or some ribald African or Japanese comedy. But having said that, it’s fantastic to be able to hunt down films on the internet instead of either waiting for a retrospective (if you live in one of the few major population centers) or subscribing to all those niche services like Mubi or the upcoming Criterion collection. I miss being hit by a great film from left field, without a publicity barrage, but such is life.

I live about 3 hours’ drive north of NYC, and while I certainly have driven down just to watch a film at the ifc or some rep house, it’s a rather rare occurrence. As you might imagine. I did see the last Godard, and the US premiere of a Brazilian movie about slavery, and also a fantastic little British comedy (the Death of Stalin) which just happened to be playing its premiere as we walked past the theater in the West Village. That was neat. Then we drove home at 3 a.m. and I got depressed!

But that’s the scene as a consumer - which I guess is my gripe: I don’t want to be just a consumer. Around 20 years ago, I was familiar with the mechanisms and the modalities of making smaller indie films. It was clear even then that everything was about to change due to several new technologies. In a way, it’s a bit of a surprise that it took so long, but I think I can say that the scene in 2019 is radically other than the scene of 1999. Those technologies were: a) capture - the change from film to video formats (now it’s not even tape, it’s computer files); b) the total shift in editing and post-production to digital - that means you can do just about anything to the footage you shoot after the fact. There’s literally no more film AT ALL in movie making, except a few mavericks (I’d be one of those if I had the budget, by the way) who might still insist on shooting the movie on actual Kodak film. But everything after that is done inside a computer. C) exhibition - Again, outside of a few really big showcase venues, even exhibition is done from video files. Some very few premieres or prestige festival screenings are still done on prints, but you go to any other theater and it’ll be digital projection from a thing called a DCP (essentially a big thumb-drive) and in about 5 years I believe all movies will be streamed into the theaters via satellite or cable). D] (this may seem out of order, but) the least obvious of those changes which has been the most radical: distribution. By which I mean the corporate structure of the distribution companies. You can look at the old studio system (long gone) or the rash of indie companies which ended up feeding the studios through the 70s and 80s; to the pre-financing of films by foreign sales that applied when I got started in indie production in the 90s and 2000s, but now - again because of the cheapness of digital creation, and the almost zero cost (per film!) of digital distribution as compared to celluloid; and the “interesting” accounting systems of streaming and distribution networks online, we have reached a temporary situation where a very few gigantic companies can simply pay for their own content. The lines between TV and cinema have been completely blurred (how many people saw ‘Bird Box’ in the theaters? Or the same - much more contentiously - for Cuarón’s ‘Roma’?

This all sounds great, but there’s one potential downside: in the old days (haha five years ago!) you could make a movie and show it in a movie theater. Someone would see it, even if only your local friends. Then you do another one. But no single person can afford to set up a worldwide 4K distribution network, and even though a company like Netflix or Apple may require 1,000 films or shows per year, it’s not quite clear how you can find even a door to knock on to pitch your own ”great idea”. I find the idea of Gatekeepers in any medium to be quite sinister. And of just four of five in the world? Well, as long as you don’t mind consuming Coca-Cola or Pepsi, you’ll be alright.

I’d love to think two things, but I honestly don’t know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. So, I’m going to be upbeat. I think there will always be a need for people to go out of their homes, meet up with friends, drive to a bricks-and-mortar building and watch a piece of audio visual entertainment (and/or Great Art!) in a large darkened room with other like-minded folk. It’s the same as the difference between listening to a record/CD and going to a live gig. What the proportions will be is anybody’s guess, but I think that need and that rush will always be there.

And, I truly believe that when all is said and done, good work will always outlive bad work.

For me, the upshot of that optimism means as a filmmaker (or indeed as a musician) you have to think about just one thing: how not to cheat the folks who have invested a goodly chunk of their free time to come and see you or your work. I don’t mean second-guessing what they might want to see or hear; I mean making your work as honestly and well as you possibly can... you don’t have to please everybody, but you shouldn’t cheat anybody.


5.You have been working on a horror film script? Tell us about your new project.

I wrote it a couple of years ago around a financing idea a producer I knew was putting together to make 5 low budget horror films in the 5 Boroughs of NYC. That was it. In the end, sadly, he was never able to get his finance together, but I had caught the bug of  thinking about horror ideas, and went ahead and wrote a script anyway. That’s looking for producers as we speak (it’s ‘being read’). I came up with a very simple germ of an idea, which was that a young girl who had bad nightmares would turn out to be dropping into a parallel universe - that in fact it might instead be a girl in a nightmare world who drifted off into a series of ‘nice’ dreams in a super safe world. And we, as an audience, should never be sure which part was real. Perhaps that’s not very original, but it had what I’d call ‘good bones’.


6.What inspired you to write the story?

Haha. Because that’s how I fell, in ‘real life’. My wife pointed out a few years ago that my response to life stress is to sleep better. I’ve no idea how common that is, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have that reaction rather than, say, insomnia. What a story enables you to do is work out variations that would be too difficult in the real world. I mean, if you are semi-convinced you are dreaming, you can’t really keep leaping off buildings to test your theories, right? And using dynamite to blow up warehouses isn’t much of an option either., so: that’s the attraction.

On a purely cinema buff level, I wanted to see if I could write a script that didn’t use women as fodder, as disposable plot elements, which meant I had to have a female protagonist. I also made her young enough - with hindsight - so that there was no question of sexuality being involved (unlike ‘Carrie’, for example which uses female puberty as a kind of terror trigger) that could somehow be scary without being cheap (the cartoon ‘Godzilla meets Bambi’ did that quite eloquently, I feel.) by which I mean no dishonest gory close-ups or monsters swinging out of the dark; and no stomach churning sadism (like in the ‘Saw’ series. I apply all this to the ‘oh, come on, it’s just cartoon violence’ spoofs and parodies, too.


7.How is working on horror film concepts challenging and rewarding for you as a writer?

It’s incredibly difficult to be scary just be writing what you can see and what you can hear - which are the two absolute rules for a film script. Only those two things.

You cannot say ‘He is cold.’ Because you can’t film ‘cold’. You have to imagine - as in, invent an image - which allows us all to understand that ‘he’ is ‘cold’. Maybe have breath condense on the air. Maybe have the sound of wind howling across the plain outside. How much harder, then, to convey, ‘She feels an uneasy dread’ or even ‘she feels as if she’s being watched’. Good luck with that. So you start to see that horror is often evoked by the tension between what we know and what the characters know, or do not yet know. As well as all those primordial situations which in real life do make us uneasy. It’s amazing how many of them involve silence and darkness. So, ideally, a horror film is going to be at night, or underground, and full of silence or minute noises which can’t be identified at first. But it’s all got to be written down.

As an amusing aside, what I thought might be one of the most interesting ideas when I started writing this script was to make a lot of the fear pass only via the soundtrack. As irony would have it (and this happens a lot more than you would think) two of the biggest and most successful horrors since that time have been about sound and terror: ‘Bird Box’ and ‘A Quiet Place’.

I started to feel better when my scenes got quieter (much less dialogue) and more precise in the delineation of exactly what could be heard and where the person moved, or waited. The interplay between noises and silences. Things moving into and out of shadows.

That’s why I’m not a big fan of Horror genre music. Give me some silence, or some industrial sounds, and lay off the violins, please.


Here’s a list of what I’d consider ‘unmissable’:


Dead of Night

The Haunting (Wise)

The Shining

Let the Right One In (Swedish version)

The Untamed (see above)

Don’t Look Now (Roeg)

Night of the Living Dead (Romero)

The Thing (Carpenter)

The Descent

Murnau’s Nosferatu is still the original and best

And though it’s not a horror film per se, more of a crime investigation movie, I still think George Sluizer’s 1988 film, ‘The Vanishing’ is the single scariest film I have ever seen.


8.Horror films can be a peculiar genre. Any thoughts on the genre itself and how to make your work stand out with trends?

Hmm. Peculiar is right. Truth be told I’m not a great fan of bad examples of the genre, and I’m not a fan of gore at all. Like satire, it has to be done so well that it ceases to be genre if you get it right, and just becomes a Good Film. Otherwise it can look like one of those things teenage videographers just have to get out of their systems.

On the other hand, I sometimes think that film - true film - is really only about mood and emotion. In that sense, great horror films are almost the only pure form of cinema there is. As to staying ahead of the curve of fashion, I doubt it’s really possible. Tastes can change so fast, and the lag time to second-guess them is too long. It’s true that in the 1960s, an enterprising horror producer could hear about a studio film in the works, and make his own cheap knock-off before the ‘original’ was released (or, smarter, at almost the same time, to piggy-back on the big film’s publicity’ Roger Corman was great at this, and his spoofs like ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ or ‘Bucket of Blood’ (a personal fave) were at least as good as, and spiritually better than most of the more mainstream fare. But really scary films on the edge of the uncanny? Obviously, the stakes in a horror film have to be Death. But I’m drawn to what the writer Jorge Luis Borges once said about fantasy in Literature (and I think it applies to horror in cinema, too, but I added a fifth rule). Borges said that there are only four basic story-forms in the Fantastic - here they are:


1 - the double or Doppelgänger

2 - the story within the story

3 - travel in time

4 - the contamination of reality by dreams

And I would add one more:

5 - Death cheated


It’d be interesting for everyone to look at their favorite horror films and see if they pass any of those definitions (or maybe several of them).

I’m very much of the opinion that film is the closest we can get to dreams (well, certain drug states, also, obviously, but I’d say that as all films satisfy Borges’ 4th criterion, then in a way all films are fantastical.

I’m also searching for a quote which impressed me very much, but I can’t remember who said it: Horror is when we find something which isn’t as dead as we expected it to be.


9.The indie film/genre world is changing really fast with camera and format developments it can throw the whole business out of whack. Any thoughts and your experiences?

Briefly. The time scales are so long, it can be a big mistake to get all excited about tax breaks and regional grants. By the time you are up and running, the monies may well have moved somewhere else.

The other thing I’d say - which is really important - is the be very careful about stories which depend on one big reveal. One secret that you discover at the end of the film. It definitely works, as a scary experience, but very, very few of that kind of film can be viewed a second time. M. Night Shyamalan’s work is almost all like that (I really like his films, by the way) but you can’t talk about them with friends because you’d give away the ‘trick’. Have to say that ‘Sixth Sense’ does stand up to repeated views, though. Risky stuff, for a writer. On the other hand, don’t be like a young writer I know who refused to tell his producer the end of the film he was being paid to write because he “didn’t want to spoil the ending.”


10.Big companies handling indie films these days are also rewriting the rules for the game. Any thoughts or advice?

See above for some stuff on the new distributors and how hard it can be to get into the club.

And don’t be fooled: low-budget means everyone gets paid less.


11.Any favorite books or films?

In horror? I’d like to point people in the direction of Jalal Toufic’s essay book ‘Vampires’ as the best book on existential horror there is. It deals with vampires in film and in literature, too, but it’s actually about the perception of time and space - and the gaps therein - in ‘real life’. A rather difficult but very deep book.

If you mean out of the horror genre - I’m a great fan of Irish writers like Joyce, Beckett and Flann O’Brien; and I have recently been devouring Roberto Bolaño.

I also (shame alert!) finally read ‘Moby Dick’ this year, it’s an utterly surprising masterpiece (duh!), and what an unbelievably funny and contemporary book it is in places!

As for films, I think I’ve mentioned enough elsewhere in this interview, but in case you’ve never seen it, please take a look at Nicholas Roeg and Donald Cammel’s ‘Performance’ - especially if you have any affinity for the London music scene in the 1960s, or offbeat gangster movies. Who would have thought that Mick Jagger can actually act?!


12.Favourites colour and black and white and why?

These, because they actually use colour as an emotionally expressive tool:

The American Friend (Wim Wenders)

The Red Shoes (Michael Powell)

Element of Crime (Lars von Trier)

The Conformist (Bertolucci)

The Conversation (Coppola) this one is mostly very muted, but that’s using colour, too.

Blue Velvet (David Lynch)

In B&W, mostly older films, but a few modern ones, which means they were using B&W by choice...

M (Fritz Lang)

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)

Persona (Bergman)

Throne of Blood (Kurosawa)

Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)

And - this is a very odd mainstream movie, and horror fans might find it very tame, but I think ‘Night of the Hunter’ with Robert Mitchum is the stuff of nightmares. In fact, it was the stuff of my nightmares. For decades, I had bad dreams with certain images in them. It was only when I watched ‘Night of the Hunter’ as an adult that I realized I must have seen it before, on TV (when I was 6 or 7?) and Robert Mitchum had traumatized me totally. Watching it consciously exorcised that trauma, so maybe horror films can serve a cathartic purpose...


13.After all these years what have been some recent films that affected you or you found interesting?

Apart from a few isolated individual films, I haven’t seen any real movements in the world since the late 90s Dogma movement in Denmark. But I have noticed a couple of Greek filmmakers Yorgis Lanthimos & Athina Rachel Tsangari  (I’ve been ranting about Lanthimos since his 2009 ‘Dogtooth’ which is just stunning. Now, haha again - he’s up for a slew of Oscars for his new British film, The Favourite’) Tsangari made a film called Attenberg, which sits very well with Dogtooth as utterly nuts surrealism undercut by a seriousness which can only be described as ‘Greek’ (as in the Tragedies’); there’s also the incredible work being done in Mexico for the past decade by a group of filmmakers who are friends at least, if not an actual artistic movement: Iñárritu, del Toro, Cuarón, Reygadas and Amat Escalante. You can look them up but the one film which stunned me in the past two years was Escalante’s ‘La Región Salvaje’ aka ‘The Untamed’: It’s just extraordinary. Not exactly a horror film, but plenty eerie; not really an erotic thriller, but very disturbing; not a straight social document about modern Mexico, but full of sharp insights; and not a hard sci-fi, but as out there as it gets. Real cinema, in other words. Escalante has also directed a few episodes of the excellent ‘Narcos: Mexico’ worth checking out. Carlos Reygadas’ last film to date (though he’s got a new one out soon) was ‘Post Tenebras Lux’ which is impossible to summarize, and a little slow in places, but it’s also incredibly beautiful, gets about 9/10 on the disturb-o-meter and is full of little surprises and (deep) magical realist shocks.

As for one-offs (and directors to watch going forward) I’d strongly recommend the wonderful first film by Ana Lily Amirpour: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’. The best I can say about it is: watch it!

I also rather liked Tomas Andersson’s ‘Let the Right One In’.

I’m very partial to two young(ish) British women directors, too: Lynne Ramsay, who started with the amazing ‘Ratcatcher’ about a boy growing up in Scotland; and who made my film of 2018 - ‘You Were Never Really Here’ which is a very snappy mystery which feels like the offspring of Taxi Driver and Ghost Dog, with a bit of ‘Inherent Vice’ (and Joaquin Phoenix) thrown in for good measure. Quite lovely taut filmmaking; and Andrea Arnold, whose ‘Fish Tank’ really hit the spot in a classic British ‘social-realist’ way, and her most recent, ‘American Honey’, which is like a female take on some of Gus van Sant’s best work, or a more intelligent (??) Harmony Korine movie.


14.Do you have other creative pursuits than music and film?

My own personal projects (i.e. the things I do that I don’t get paid for!) are all pure writing. Intended for books. In many ways, the time and energy required to get a film project off the ground and made is just too dispiriting. At least with written fiction, it’s just you, your ideas and a pencil. I feel I will be making progress when I buy myself a (paper) notebook, too. :)


15.How do you feel art enriches your life?

I knew from a very early age that art in its widest sense is about all we can hope to glean from an often cruel universe. I don’t subscribe to the idea that art is therapy, but there is a sense that you glimpse a wider world, and even monolithic troubles can begin to show cracks. There’s a joy that art can unlock which manages to pull off the seemingly impossible trick of reducing the pain in your life without needing to blot it out.

Music does this most purely. You can be living a moment of huge pain, or loss, or doubt, or lack of hope... and just one pop song can wash it all away in a moment, even if it’s only for a moment. And if you are lucky enough to be able to make some art, all those cracks begin to show light. It might not be much, but it’ll do.

It doesn’t have to be Beethoven, either. Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ is good enough for me.


16.What is one life skill you think we all need to have?

The ability to do these two contradictory things: to do the very best and most honest work you can;  and to not take yourself too seriously.

And then I’d put that into the real world and say: always develop your own ideas and hold them dear, but, always collaborate.

This is music and cinema: however good you think your ideas are, they don’t exist until other people bring them to life. So, make sure you can allow your collaborators to bring the best of themselves to the work.

And vice-versa, of course.

The other biggie is (and I am very unoriginal in offering this as advice) allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s OK. That’s where all the fun starts, and where you will find all your own ideas and your individual voice. I always think there’s only one way to be successful, but there’s a million interesting ways to make mistakes. And - back to the Bible: be understanding if someone else makes a mistake, too. You’ve just found a new way forward!


17.Thoughts on the music or indie film scene and world today with the madness of social media and current times?

I’m the wrong person to ask. I only use social media to keep in touch with friends in many different countries (or States); I don’t care about or worry about ‘privacy’. I think if I put it out there, I can’t complain if it comes back to me and bites my ass. On the other hand, I sympathize with kids who are being cyber-bullied, and suchlike.

I can see that young people who have grown up living and breathing these new media are actually capable of handling it much better than old fogies like me. I mean, I still write letters on paper, put them in envelopes and send them via the mail. So, what do I know?


18.What advice would you give film maker who’s just starting out?

Pick up a camera (or a cellphone: IT DOES NOT MATTER!) shoot some stuff; PUT IT OUT.

Do it again. You’ll be fine.

Also, never give up on something because you don’t think you can afford it. Technology does not matter. You don’t need a top-of-the-line 4K camera; you don’t need a $5,000 laptop loaded with studio software. You need an eye, an ear, and idea and an audience. That’s it. But you do need all of those things (or even two eyes and two ears can be OK).



Thanks for making the time for an excellent talk today, please keep us updated on your news. - G