Sunday, June 22, 2008

Edinburgh Film Festival: Day Three - 'I guess I don't have to tell you why we're here today...'

The World Premiere of 'Mum & Dad' was last night at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, a midnight screening attended by a couple of hundred people, who all braved the pissing rain to come and watch a low-budget horror film filled with wrongness. Myself and Lisa did an introduction and also brought all the cast up on stage - Perry Benson (Dad), Dido Miles (Mum), Olga Fedori (Lena), Ainsley Howard (Birdie) and Toby Alexander (Elbie), all of whom had made it up for the screening. It was great to be able to present them at the premiere because they are all a massive part of the film and bring so much to it with their performances - there wasn't a weak link amongst them.

The film went down well - people groaned in disgust, winced in sympathy and laughed in nervous repulsion. A few people also walked out, but it was always timed with a bit of horror, so I don't mind that (a guy sitting next to us started off with a gasp, then fell forward onto the seat in front clutching his hands over his face and moaning, and then - at the most offensive part of the film - finally bolted for the door...) It was interesting to stay in and watch it with a crowd, trying to guage if they were staying with it, finding out what they reacted to. When the screen went black at the end there was a great round of applause and a few whoops - a massive relief for all of us.

We had a quick drink in the bar and spoke to a few people. Everybody was really nice about the film (I guess if they were going to be horrible they probably wouldn't make the effort to stay around and do it. Unless I'd completely offended them, which is always a possibility). My favourite reaction came from a teenage actor who came to see the film with his dad - he had the same look on his face that I probably had when I saw Halloween when I was his age - wide-eyed and adrenaline rushing. He just said 'That was...fantastic'. Brilliant, I thought, hopefully there's another horror film fan for life.

Because of finishing so late (close to 2am) there wasn't time for too many post-screening drinks, so we poured out onto the streets of Edinburgh and did the classic wandering-around-asking-random-strangers-if-they-know-anywhere-open routine, that ended in abysmal failure. So we just went home.

Earlier in the day, me and Jeanie had been to see Errol Morris in conversation. He was great - we've both been fans of his since watching his TV series 'First Person' years ago on late night Channel Four. He talked about making 'The Fog of War' and 'Standard Operating Procedures', as well as about the difference (if there is one) between interviewing and interrogating someone. He spoke really well and realy carefully, thinking about every single sentence. (The whole interview was projected live onto the big screen at the Cineworld, so there were long 30 second spans where everybody was just looking at his face formulating a thought, like some large-scale art piece or something.) He also told a great story about working with an ex-FBI agent whose partner used to conduct background interviews with people (ie people who weren't suspected of anything but who may have be able to provide background information on their next-door neighbours), by knocking on the front door, flipping open his FBI I.D. and saying 'I guess I don't have to tell you why we're here today...' - a technique which would invariably end up with them starting to cry, and then confessing a bunch of stuff. I thought about opening my 'Mum & Dad' introduction with the same words - but then opted instead for telling how the last time I'd been in the Filmhouse had been to see an all-night horror film festival, including a screening of an Argentinian mutant zombie film (called 'Plaga Zombie: Zona Mutante', if I remember correctly)and how great it was to be back here with my own film. And I really meant it - it felt like coming to a real marker point - the same cinema where 'Cry' first played was now the place where people first saw 'Mum & Dad'. It was really satisfying (especially the wincing and groaning) and a massive relief.

And now I can finally sleep. Maybe.


Sam Peczek said...

Really enjoyed the film, delightful stuff (well, not really, but er, gripping nontheless). One of the better films I saw at the festival, so thanks for making something non-bad : )

Steven Sheil said...

Hi Sam

cheers for that - I appreciate it. Non-bad is always a good aim...