Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Authorial alienation...

The director Ger Leonard has blogged about his alienation from his first feature film Five Day Shelter here.

This is how he describes it: The immune system was removed, and I could not save our film. Our film only exists in the hearts and minds of those of us that believed and kept faith, and it exists too in an abridged form on my hard drive but that can never be seen in public. Those that have seen and heard this film and the "official" one cannot fail to recognise the chasm of care and consideration that divides the two.

DoP Tim Fleming refers to it briefly here.

Rumours concerning the film have been circulating for more than a year and it seems now that there are some hard questions that need answers, not least of which is - how could this happen?

The "official" version of the film is being screened at the Cork Film Festival tomorrow, November 11.


at said...

Whilst instinctively sympathetic, the blog did not provide any real information as to how the schism - presumably between production company and director - unfolded. People are usually reticent to talk about the details of these types of clashes, which makes it more difficult to conceive of e.g contractual means which could anticipate and obviate them. As the old saw has it 'everything is good for something, if only as a bad example'.

These types of situation are pretty frequent. In the low budget area things can be even worse because participants haven't formalised the legal relationship between one another and the material itself.

It's a big problem and not merely of an economic nature; these experiences generate a rancour which corrodes trust, closes the horizon of potential collaboration and eats away at you for years.

irish film portal said...

That is all true, especially where money and reputational conflicts arise in low budget production.
Nevertheless, when a 'low budget' production is effectively financed out of the public purse with a 'paper' budget of about €1m, for instance, then the position and decisions of the funder/s become pivotal.
In which case I think a balanced, arbitrated or mediated approach would be the way to deal with a schism, as you suggest, between production company and director. All of which could be provided for in early contractual dealings with 'the money'.

irish film portal said...

One other observation.

This kind of 'schism' can occur at any level of production. There has been a steadily escalating dispute around the Spanish/British/Irish co-production, La Mula, since November 2009.
Backed by public funding in each country, and by Eurimages, the director, Michael Radford, halted the shoot at the beginning of the final week because the Spanish co-producers had failed to sign all the contractual agreements.
As a result the Irish and UK funding has not been released to the production but the Spanish co-producers brought in a director to finish the shoot and have completed a cut of the film.
In this instance the Irish and British public funders are resolutely backing the director in asserting his moral and intellectual rights, to the extent that they have said that they are prepared to top-up their financial commitment to the project so that he can his finish his work on the film.
I believe that is absolutely the right approach. But is it a consistent approach across all film projects in receipt of public funding, irrespective of the director's status or any other consideration that might influence the funders' thinking?