Meet Filmmaker Christine Lalla
To celebrate the successful conclusion of our Filmonomics 2015 filmmaker training programme, we’re launching a weekly post to profile each of our participants, to give you an insight into their projects and working practice. This week, we chat to Christine Lalla about comic books, screenwriting and being brave enough to make your own mistakes.
- Why do you think you are a filmmaker?
I grew up on comic books, Hitchcock, Lean and Spielberg and it wasn’t long before a career as a professional photographer beckoned. Years later at The London Film School I found my reportage background was a great foundation for shooting at 24fps. Photography continues to inform my work today, when I write a screenplay I’m basically describing the finished film that’s in my mind’s eye. I see the camera angles, the look, cuts and my ideal cast.
Though I want my films to entertain I’m ultimately trying to share a message with my audience. I agree with the notion that one must live before one makes art and my stories are a culmination of years of travelling, people watching and reflection. It’s exciting to think that as our world and all its societies exist in a state of flux, there are original stories to be told that have yet to manifest.
- What is the project you are burning to make and why?
CATCHING ROCKS, is about a proud Indian father who unexpectedly loses his prestigious job and must accept help from his wife and children if the family is to survive their decline from affluence.
I felt compelled to write this screenplay given the current UK economic climate, in particular the jobs cull in the City and Business Sector that produced a number of unemployed people totally unprepared for a fall from grace. These people enjoyed a life so high and a future so recession proof that they could afford to plan their lives for years to come. But the recession came and decided it was no longer discriminating.
Second generation immigrants tend to enjoy a lifestyle from birth that was adopted by their parents. Different accents, manners, education and attitude to money are all the result of progress and I’m also exploring if a downward shift in fortunes would result in terror for the offspring of prosperity.
- Tell us about the latest film / exhibition / book / public figure / article to have inspired you.
I’ve always straddled the lighting/directing line so Glen Winter (SMALLVILLE, ARROW and THE FLASH) is a real inspiration to me. He was a very successful cinematographer before starting to direct and produce, whilst remaining equally respected in each discipline. There are few cinematographers who are as skilled a director as they are with lighting (Ron Fortunato is another great example.) and it’s testament to this skill and love of cinematography that Glen Winter continues to light where others may have hung up their light meters. Whilst he separates his roles on set, working with a separate DoP or director, his directing work benefits from his extensive camera movement and lighting knowledge as much as his cinematography is enhanced by a greater understanding of blocking, working with actors and storytelling. His rare career says anything is possible if you have the skill and put your mind to it.
- What frustrates you about what you do? How do you overcome this?
It can take years to get a feature made and this can be creatively frustrating. I decided to take matters into my own hands and make a no-budget feature for £6,000 in 7 days (plus one pick up day.) I wrote, directed, lit, produced and edited THE NEW BOY, which premiered at The East End Film Festival 2015. It was a fantastic experience, from writing the script through to overseeing the sound mix a year later.
There is something to be said for the total creative freedom that comes with a lack of finance and I’m developing another script, BLINDSIGHT to make in a similar manner. This film is a study of identity and the many selves we project into our different relationships, exploring which self is the authentic being.
- What advice can you offer up to someone who wants to make filmmaking his or her career?
Be brave and make your own mistakes. There’ll be plenty of well meaning people trying to help you but as a filmmaker, the opportunity to say exactly what you want, how you want declines as your career ascends. A debut film should be like a band’s first album, a culmination of years of creativity looking for an outlet. A bit rough maybe but as original as you’ll get. That polished 6th record/film will be all the better for it.
- Name one way the Filmonomics programme has helped clear the path ahead for you or your project.
The business side of filmmaking was a bit of a mystery to me but the scheme introduced me to distributors and sales agents who explained the financial reality of making your film available to an audience. It’s been really useful for my future productions and I’m no longer a film business neophyte. The script editing notes I was given for CATCHING ROCKS have steered the project in the right direction plus I found the other filmmakers on the scheme to be very supportive, creative and interesting, so much so that I am collaborating with one on a great project in 2016.