Closing Night SBIFF

By Zoe Mixon and Sophia Burridge

On Saturday February 11, we went to Closing night of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). That night featured producers, directors, and actors from films such as Their Finest and House of Others. We got to interview, Bill Nighy, Sam Claflin, Emily Moore, and a couple other people.

As we were getting our questions ready and waiting for people to interview, Emily Moore, co-director of Refugee, came up to us. “What was the biggest challenge, co-directing with someone else?” We asked.

“It was a challenge that it was two different people with two different sets of emotions and ideas, but we kind of came into this project aligned with what we wanted to get and really open to what we might get, so it kind of ended up being a huge strength because we were both working full time jobs and advertising and we had to do this whenever we could, so one person had to take control and move things forward, while the other had to do something else and vise versa. Then, we also had a lot of opportunities to work together, at the shoot, on the edit, with the music, so, it was a pretty fantastic collaboration and we couldn’t have done it without each other.”

“Was it easier or harder working with another person?” We asked

“I think it was much easier personally. I wouldn’t change anything about it. I don’t think it would actually happen if we hadn’t both been doing it.”

“What was your favorite part about directing?” We asked.

“Well, I work in an industry where I work a lot of ad creators and they are fantastic at their jobs and it’s for a lot of directors and commercials, and so I’ve had a chance to learn a lot from them, and my partner has as well and this is our first film so this is our first opportunity to really let our vision lead the guiding force with all of the learning from the past. So, it was an incredible adventure.”

Up next on the red carpet was Paula Vessel. When she walked up we introduced ourselves and asked her the first question. When we asked what the movie was about, she responded, “The movie is not much of a money maker because it is about a 12 year old girl. The director is a women as well as the writer and the two main roles are women. We think that girls stories are important, but it is hard to get a film distributed when the movie is about a girl. Many producers and people whose money you need to make the films seem to think that girls stories aren’t as important as men’s stories. So to answer your question, the movie is about a twelve year old girl that goes to find her dad. She is living alone with her mom, I play the mom, and the mom really can’t take care of her daughter. And the daughter is stressed and alone and the rest is struggling with money issues. We think the film is beautiful and it did well in Finland and it did well in festivals, but I think it is just the beginning of women in films.”

Next, we asked her what led her to playing this role.

“I have been acting since I was very young and the director has followed my music career and I have followed her career. So when she was doing this film she kind of contacted me and then we met in New York and then we did this audition in a small apartment. And that is how we met and so she decided to give the role to me and then we started to work. I also composed music to the movie with a friend of mine. So it is kind of like girl power.”

Last we asked her when she started making music and singing it.

“I started making music when I was four or five. I wanted to sing and play all of these instruments, but I grew up on the countryside so I had to kind of travel a long way to go play violin and piano. And then I started to write my own songs when I was twelve and when I was a bit older I formed a band. We played at big rock festivals. In 2013 I quit the band and went solo and moved to the states. I released a solo album last year and a couple songs on Spotify.” After that, she thanked us and walked off down the red carpet.

As we waited awhile for someone to show up, we saw a familiar face come out of a crowd of paparazzi and start walking over to us. It was Sam Claflin. Who is in the movie Their Finest The first question we asked him was what drew him to a role in Their Finest. He responded with “That is a good question. I worked with the director before and she sort of has become more of a motherly figure to me. So probably having an opportunity to work with her again. Also the script was a kind of a unique way of telling a war story almost. It is based in the second world war, I thought it was quite a delightful and funny film based around war, if that makes sense. And most war films are really upsetting, this film has its moments of being very emotional, but generally it was a very sort of happy and uplifting film.”

When we asked what the biggest challenges of acting in Their Finest were, he said, “I think using a typewriter. Have you ever used a typewriter?” Laughing we said only one time. Also laughing, he said “It is very difficult because you have to push the button so hard, and you’re used to using a laptop or a phone where you barely touch the button. Back then you had to really push the button down. It took me a long time to get the hang of that. Unfortunately the typewriter broke about half way through so we had to get a new typewriter, then me learning how to do that was equally difficult. Of course writers in that time are using it on a daily basis and they are very quick and I had never used one so I was very slow. So trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing was probably the biggest challenge.”

The next question we asked him was what his next projects were. He then responded with, “Well it is all very secretive, well I did a film just before Christmas which is the first world war film and I play a young captain that looks after about 100 men. They are on the front line of the first world war and it is a very sort of, an emotional drama about these six men and how they deal with the consequences of war. Also I have a film I am about to start that shoots a long, long, ways away and I play a very nasty man so I am kind of preparing myself for darkness basically.” He said this laughing as we asked him the next question.

The last question we asked him was what his favorite part of acting in this film was.

“I think working with the cast. When you are fortunate to have a great cast and a great crew around you it sort of lifts your performance and it makes you more comfortable and at ease on set so makes you start looking forward to go to work. I think that when you are excited about going to work it makes the day easier. So the best thing I found was we were very well supported, we were all friends, and we all got along really well. That made it all really fun we were also great with a joke even when scenes had to be very serious we were all able to make each other laugh and smile.”

“Thank you very much!” We said and he walked away.

The next person up was Bill Nighy. He plays two people in the film Their Finest. After we introduced ourselves, we asked, “What drew you to this role?”

Well this role is good because I hope it’s funny because I get to play a very silly man and it’s quite fun to play very silly men. Yet, it turns out in the end that he is not quite as silly as he was before.” He answered.

“What was the greatest challenge about this role?”

“The greatest challenge about this role, I suppose was to try to be funny. It is always quite hard to be funny particularly on a film set where nobody is allowed to laugh because it has to be quiet. So you do these jokes, and nobody laughs and you think ‘Please god I hope this is funny, because otherwise I am going to look pretty stupid.’”

Next we asked him what was the greatest part about acting in this film.

“My favorite part was probably the costumes, because the costumes were from the 1940s and that is where clothes got good. Clothes were pretty rough in the 20s and 30s and everyone looked like they were to overdressed. But in the forties it kind of relaxed it really started to look chique. That is a very shallow answer but it is the truth.”

Our last question was, “What was the difference between this role and all the other roles you have played?”

“Well I suppose the big difference between this one is that I got to play two parts. I got to play Ambrose Hilliard and drunken uncle Frank which was a bit unusual.”

After that we thanked him and he walked off down the red carpet. Next we took a couple of pictures in front of the red carpet and went home.

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