Maja Borg's first feature-length film Future My Love has successfully launched at major festivals in Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and Tallinn. Ahead of further preview screenings in Glasgow and London, SDI's Agata Jagodzinska spoke to her about her journey in filmmaking which included a Bridging the Gap film.
When did you know that you wanted to make films, and what do you value the most in documentaries?
I’ve been making films since I was a child; I played with my friend’s video camera even before I had a television. When people asked me who I wanted to be when I grow up, I usually said three things: that I wanted to be a cobbler, a carpenter, and a filmmaker. I still have hopes to become a carpenter one day. Maybe not so much a cobbler any more…
Coming back to filmmaking, when I tell a story, the genre isn't important – it is finding ways of telling it honestly. Sometimes documentaries are the best way of doing that, sometimes they are not. There are some subjects you can’t quite tackle honestly with documentary. There are loads of reasons for it: you may be putting your subject at risk, or you may not be able to get honest answers out of people who are afraid of making themselves look bad. It can also be argued that by being in a situation with a camera, you are changing it…
"There are some subjects you can’t quite tackle honestly with documentary"
For me, the genre is very much secondary to the subject of the story. Therefore I don’t think I've made a single film that is a straight documentary. I find fiction quite limited as well, it is limited by your imagination. What’s great about making documentaries is that you need to respond to reality all the time. You can make a plan and you may even write a proposal about what you think you’ll find – and it’s wonderful how you always get surprised and have to deal with the fact that you can’t control what will happen. I really like that.Read more
Eva Weber's new film Black Out is launching at IDFA in Amsterdam today. SDI's Agata Jagodzinska spoke to her ahead of the premiere. This interview is the first in a little series about what has happened to our Bridging the Gap alumni in the years since...
What attracted you to focus on documentaries in your filmmaking career?
I think there is real power in documentaries. The beauty of it is that no matter how much you plan and prepare for your shoot, and imagine what you will film, there will always be those unexpected moments that you can't plan for, and it’s those moments that can really transform a film. Moments of beauty or pain, of real life, that surprise you and make you think. It makes the filmmaking experience very special. There is something extraordinary when you think, wow, I would have never thought of this but you see it happening right in front of you and you capture it, real life writing its own story.
What is the best way for an aspiring filmmaker to find his/her style and get their name out there?
I believe the most important thing is to work out what connects with you on an emotional level, and the stories you want to tell as a filmmaker - to find your own voice. I believe you need to think about what you want to say as an individual and how you want to say it. Before you start filming, I also find it important to think about the visuals of a film and how you can visually convey what is important in a story. Once the film is done, it’s really about making sure it is seen, through festivals, broadcast or online. Whatever route you decide to take, you need to keep on working at it, in the end it is all about perseverance and resilience.Read more
Pouters is my first short film and has opened up new worlds for me. From the open wasteland of Cranhill, Glasgow to the pages of Darwin's 'Origin of Species' in search of the world behind the Pouter pigeon.
Over the past 9 months, I've been submerged in making what will be Scotland's premier film on one of the country's oldest and little known sports: Doo Fleein'. 40 hours of footage later, countless directional changes as characters came and went and pigeons were won and lost...Read more
Remember, you’re just a fecking bar tender
–said the drunken plasterer.
Apparently when someone says in LA that he is an actor, the other person asks him in which restaurant…
These days, life appears to me full of bridges and gaps, and I find myself jumping over water puddles more often than I would like… One of the main reasons for entering Bridging the Gap was exactly that: to walk the bridge that separates the life of a mature student (point A) from the dream of becoming a professional director (point B). Curiously, point A has vanished from sight, even though I haven’t moved. I extended my school time as much as I could; I became part of the furniture, but in the end, I got termites, and they made a bonfire out of me in the courtyard…Read more
Reports from the production of this year's Bridging the Gap short documentaries, part 4
For a long time, skippers in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire could not find locals to work on their fishing vessels. That was the reality until Filipino fishermen started coming to town. Now they crew most of the boats, but they have to deal with the vast sea and the enormous distance that separate them from their families.
First entry: 26th of March
It's a bit hard to write here, with all this movement and my life jacket on (I do actually have it on) but I'll try...
First thing: we're alive, and still on board the Polaris… We left the North Sea, and we're spending most of the time in the Atlantic, some 100 miles west of Shetland... The weather was amazing the first day and we managed to film alright... But unfortunately, seasickness has started to hit the film crew...
[rise of tension; music] It's been a bit tough, not knowing whether we would manage to shoot this film or not, feeling every wave in your stomach; but the ocean brought us good news today...
[music ends; sound of rice boiling in a pot] When I woke up in what was seemingly morning, Julian was having rice in the galley... He smiled and I noticed straight away that he had a much better face… The sea and the weather have been very nice today and we have been able to film for the whole day... It's been fantastic to be working together aboard the Polaris... We laughed, teased each other and enjoyed the scenery… It was like a director/DoP honeymoon... Really unusual… The swell seems like it may be gentle tomorrow, too, so hopefully we'll manage to film some more stuff...
Julian and Chico keeping safe at the galleyRead more
Reports from the production of this year's Bridging the Gap short documentaries, part 3
The Isle of Islay, Scotland. Human population: 3,457. Sheep population: 20,000 (or thereabouts). Wallaby population: 1 (deceased)?
We have come to Islay with one intention – to solve the mystery of the wallaby.
A wallaby is a small kangaroo more often associated with the dusty plains of Australia than the Hebridean Isles of Scotland. In 2004, one such creature showed up at the side of the road. When it was found it was dead, it was suspected to have been flattened by a car. The police soon buried it to keep their unsolved crime rate down.
How it got to the island and how it died remain till this day, a mystery. But Islay is a small community in which everybody knows everybody and secrets don’t
stay secrets for too long…
The search goes on: Alistair giving a calf something it’s not going to likeRead more
Reports from the production of this year's Bridging the Gap short documentaries, part 2
I've spent the past three months hanging around on wasteland in Cranhill, Glasgow. Cranhill is perhaps best known for spawning Scotland's most successful rock brothers Angus and Malcolm Young who formed AC/DC and, least we forget, another famous son of this fine scheme – Junior Campbell from the Sixties' beat group Marmalade, but perhaps best known as the man who penned the iconic theme tune to 'Thomas the Tank Engine'.
Rab and Michael keeping their eyes in the sky, hoping for a capture.
Prior to my film endevaour, Cranhill represented something different to me. When driving from Glasgow to Edinburgh of an evening, you pass three tower blocks on your right as you leave Glasgow. These blocks with their semi-circle reflectively-glazed peaks were the first blocks in the city to incorporate what can only be described as a visual bungle. I am talking about the city authorities' attempts to brighten up our city's night skyline by adding insipid lighting decorations to every housing tower block over 15 metres high. These particular blocks with their ill-conceived illumination have always felt like they mark your exit or your return into Glasgow, and for that reason, I find them a reassuring landmark which has become a focal point in my short film.
Over the past three months, I've spent days hanging around directly in front of these tower blocks, spectating and documenting a century-and-half old, little-known Scottish sport called doo fleein' – or pigeon flying, if you're not familiar with the colloquial terms.
Reports from the production of this year's Bridging the Gap short documentaries, part 1
Chinese takeaway is one of the most popular carry-out foods in the UK. However, working as a takeaway driver might not be the most delightful job. Through the eyes of a takeaway driver, we are not only able to look at the world beyond the takeaway counter, a mysterious catering community that provides our familiar late-night snacks, but also at the city we thought we knew everything about.
Here are some pictures from the shoot for this film:
DoP David Lee (left) and director Yu-Hsueh Lin (right) enjoying a dinner break at the takeaway, the driver Jerry watching telly and not hungry at all.Read more
The film is about a series of suicides by young men in Dundee, during summer 2010 and how their families coped with such tragedy.
David R Cairns, the director, straight out of NFTVS, poured all his energy and sensitivity into listening to those families, absorbing their pain, and finding ways to translate it poetically so the film will walk the fine line of telling the harsh facts of reality, living in economically deprived Dundee while respecting their individual stories with enough feelings to go beyond the social worker case study, all this in 9 minutes!Read more
In the last two weekends I've been fortunate to travel South and North to attend two small festivals. They offer different kinds of opportunities to big industry events, and the ripples of a visit can last much longer in some instances.
At the end of August I attended Rome's Gender Docufilm Festival, situated in the 10th annual Gay Village, a beer and event garden which pops up each summer between June and September, with disco nights, film screenings and other cultural events on two stages. As president of the Di'Gay project Imma Battaglia said when she welcomed us with a buffet dinner: "We love putting Gay Village in the park to remind people of how important it is to look after the environment. It's about going beyond LGBT issues - if we don't care for the trees, we'll be nowhere politically!" For me the idea of celebrating open hearted diversity, a stone throw (or shall we say an apple's throw) from The Vatican is at once amusing and very progressive. I found a place full of history, looking to the future.Read more