Director's Cut: Featuring Mark J. Blackman
Writer and Director Mark J. Blackman talks to us about his powerful music video KILBURN (which contains scenes of adult nature) by Flutes which screened as part of the Exit 6 Film Festival launch. Mark has won awards at events such as Promax, The New York Film Festival and Houston Worldfest.
1. Where did the idea for the story come from and what does it mean to you?
The concept for KILBURN was born out of an instant reaction to the song. Flutes had seen my short film, FACIAL, and had got in touch asking for something similar: emotionally wrought, dangerous and full of regret. They mentioned their budget: my heart sank. They played me the track: my heart was in it. It instantly conjured up a tone and mood in my mind that I felt compelled to nail. As soon as I heard it, the character that I wrote for Lou (Lorraine Stanley) just pinged, a real zero-to-something moment. The rest - the story - fell into place very quickly and had to: we had only a few days to turn the whole piece around from beginning to end including all post. As ever, my stories never find themselves relegated to single-location, single character, budget-friendly categories and even though this was to be a very fast-moving, low-budget piece, it - as ever - had to feature a world-building scale that would make me happy as a writer / director: to really get a feel for our character's life.
2. What were the main challenges you faced when putting this film together?
The biggest challenge with this production was the budget. It was pretty much non-existent and quickly established how we were going to crew the production: namely myself in all roles (Director, DOP, Editor and Colourist) working alongside my regular producer, Roxy Holman. As such, we were using kit we own, locations we could mostly blag and an impeccably well planned schedule full of unit moves and costume changes.
3. What were the biggest lessons you learned during the making of the film?
The main thing I learned on this shoot? If shooting in an adult store, be very wary of what free samples they offer you there and then. It's no fun directing with a numb tongue I can tell you.
4. What was your best experience during the shoot?
For me, the best experience of the shoot was during the hotel corridor scene that leads up to the love-making in the hotel room. It was the moment that everyone really got a sense of what we were doing: the tone and the mood of the piece as well as how we were improvising in the right direction. Everyone hit their stride during this scene and things went from strength to strength from that moment on. Fortunately this was very early on in the short shoot so it set the standard for the rest of the production.
5. What's been your best experience screening the film?
Seeing KILBURN play at the London Short Film Festival on one of my favourite screens at Cine Lumiere was a treat, albeit one I was apprehensive about as it was playing after an anamorphic fantasy shot on the Red Epic. However, I was very happy to say our decision to go with a Super-16 style texture to the film worked wonders and the film more than held up on that massive screen. When the piece finished, you could have heard a pin-drop - and then someone whispered "fucking hell" which made the seventy-two hour production feel entirely worth it. We'd set out to make something emotionally stirring and it's had emotional reactions ever since.
6. How have you found the festival circuit?
KILBURN has played with other shorts of ours at various international film festivals and music video events that work commitments have often prevented me from attending: however, the lovely feedback we've had on KILBURN's been wonderful and we've scored subsequent gigs off the back of it. Always nice.
7. What plans do you have to distribute your film?
Music videos don't gain distribution the same way dramas do. However, my producer (the force of nature that is Roxy Holman) and I have submitted it to various festivals as it's very much a short film in its own right and very much a spiritual successor / neighbour / cousin (whatever you want to call it) to several films I have made prior to this. It's part of a phase I went through. It is also throwing forward, tonally, to a feature we are currently developing called The Siren, The Captain, The Sea. The plot is different, but the world, the texture and - most importantly - the emotions are very much in the same world. Can't wait.
To find out more about Mark and his upcoming projects you can visit his website at MJBlackman.com.
You can also follow Mark on Twitter: @JokersPack
Call for interviews
Is there a short filmmaker you would like to know more about? Get in touch with the team or tweet us @exit6filmfest with your suggestions.