The long short film genre is interesting to me because it is an area where you can make mini feature films on a very small budget. It is also the closets taste to shooting a full length movie. I wanted to steer in this direction with Paradis because it is my sixth film where all my previous projects have been 16 minutes (which is still considered slightly long for a short) or less. However there are cons as well as pros to this market: featurette’s are harder to place on the festival circuit and for media exposure. But I wanted to make Paradis for the right reasons and that is solely what it is: a long shot film, as well as personal practice for a full length feature.
When France Meets W9
Being a lover of French cinema and experimented with a French actor in my short film Set Point, I wanted to return to this style. The day of making my film in Paris is in the pipeline, I wanted to achieve this ambition with Paradis but my budget wouldn’t allow it, so on this occasion Paris and I had to wait. However London is very multicultural place, and on a day when I was walking through the neighbourhood Warwick Avenue (W9) in London, the setting for the film was born. The landscapes and buildings in Warwick Avenue are beautiful and the Little Venice river is an example of London’s gems.
Based on these factors I dreamed up a make believe version of Paris which is where the characters would then be placed. As I said it wouldn’t be too far from the truth because London (especially zones 1 & 2) is a largely foreign occupied anyway. So with the right locations within W9, I would be meeting Paris halfway, making the story still believable to the audience and enormously co-operative to the budget I had. If all these elements worked well together, it would be a charming place to take the audience too for an hour.
Ensemble: The Odd Lot
I wanted to try an ensemble with Paradis and have a collection of characters living in this made up French inspired world in Warwick Avenue. It would allow me to achieve the length a featurette requires because each character would have their own story to tell (sub stories within a story). And I deliberately made all of them odd in some way. Ultimately I wanted to have an ensemble of messed up characters living in a messed up situation led by the main lead Dominique.
Dominique is a suffering writer with a sex addiction. He is also in a failing relationship with his estranged and slightly crazy literacy agent Avril. To get help he sees his Therapist; a person whom hates his job and wants nothing more but to quit. The other lead Lizette is Dominique’s ex girlfriend and she works in a local restaurant as a waitress. She is suffering from her own addictions which have something to do with a mysterious man with an erectile dysfunction Marek. She is also harassed by a sexually perverted Restaurant Manager at her job.
Dominique chooses Christianity as his saviour and is assisted by an over-the-top Priest, at the same time sexually admired by a senior Church Lady whom is ready to start dating again. So each character has their own stories, requiring longer screen time and helping the film achieve its desired running length.
Down To Business
When shooting the film, how we achieved the running length the film turned out to be (50 minutes) was a slight miracle. We shot it in five days, however the ambitiousness of the script required it to be a ten day shoot. I am surprised the film ended up being the length it is because the script was approximately 25 pages. From experience, when shooting you usually go over the page per minute rule, but in Paradis’ case the longer was always the better and it allowed the actors to experiment more with their scenes.
Currently the film is nearing its final stages of post production and when it is finished it will be released as a featurette. I know this version will be harder to find its place in the market so the project has to be good enough to be picked up by the right hands. Also making the film on the budget I had means it really does have to be good. That said the film will have a shortened theatrical release for festivals, I feel I wouldn’t be giving it total justice if it didn’t have a chance at competing on the festival circuit for exposure. But ultimately the full directors cut will, at the end of the day, be the version that will hopefully end up on people’s shelves.
The Director – Neilson Black
I started writing Paradis in July 2015. It is a completely fictionalised story, but based on two themes which I have an interest in and can personally relate too. After 5 short films, each achieving moderate screening success, Paradis’ objective is two things: an experimentation of moving towards feature films, and taking the festival and media exposure to a higher level.
After film school and then becoming a runner and set assistant for 5 years whilst writing on the side, I started my production company Pattern Maker Films and began writing, directing and producing short films for the company. I have been doing this for 4 years as well as taking on freelancer jobs as and when they arrive.
Paradis will be released May 2016. The official screening is at The Flying Dutchman, London, 25th May.
Find out more about the movie on its official website at: paradisthemovie.wordpress.com