I work in theatre and I sometimes get overwhelmed by how tough it can be to make a project get some traction. I have the privilege to coach other theatremakers, along with novelists and poets, composers and songwriters. Each have their own bubbling projects which they seek to get the right people to take notice of. However everytime I connect with filmmakers I am humbled by the sheer time and patience it takes to go from a visionary/lovely idea to “a cinema near you”.
I want to use this blog to invite you to look at two very different movies. One from London and one from New York, and for me it is the backstage story which is almost as fascinating as the film itself.
Tides is the brainchild of Director: Tupaq Felber with stunning Cinematography by Paul O’Callaghan capturing in Black and White the languid travel along an English canal with four friends uncovering the opnion layers of their friendship and pasts. The screenplay credit goes to Simon Meacock, Jamie Zubairi, Tupaq Felber, Jon Foster – so the actors and director. The Guardian says “likable, laid-back and low-key, this indie Brit movie from first-timer Tupaq Felber takes its characters on a bittersweet midlife trip on a narrowboat down Surrey’s beautiful River Wey. We get crisp black-and-white cinematography, heartfelt performances and relaxed, improv-type dialogue.”
I only found out chatting to one of the creatives that this three day canal journey movie was actually made in 3 days on the canal journey. The cast and crew lived and worked together in shifts. The food was cooked by Zooby not just by his character for his friends, but by him for the 10 strong company on board. It was made for £2,500 incl the hire of the boat. Then there was co-production support with the post-production and now it is out there being seen in occasional screenings in Glasgow, London and at Festivals.
Tupaq has made a beautiful film which should delight audiences in cinemas where there is time and space to enjouy the journey. Yes it comes out on DVD and is available on i-player soon – but if you can, have a look at it on the big screen. If you run an independent film festival or film programme, have a think about booking it in.
And now to something very different. I’ve had flu and so last night I treated myself to a random exploration through Amazon to see what I could spot. My search came to a movie by Jezabel Montero from 2016 which seemed to have no reviews called Cassanova was a Woman. I am used to finding niche movies which may have been seen and lost, or which won amazing things at an LGBT festival but never reached the mainstream. But here was a movie which seemed to be completely under the radar. So I settled down to this kooky Cuban New York rom-com with a strong edge. It was an exploration of what it is to come to terms with bisexuality and was a mix of joyful and way over the top, thoughtful and manic. It is deeply flavoured with that Cuban/Latin soap/comedy style. It offers us loads of stereotypes but with a real heart.
Now normally I might have just curled up and left it at that, but I was intrigued as to where it came from and who had conceived the idea and why it was not better reviewed/known. From here I was led to a 20 minute interview with the stars. Here I find that the lovers are indeed life partners. That the mother in the film is indeed the lead’s mother and is indeed, as she plays, a famous Cuban Soap star. Little by little I realised how personal this journey was for Ms Montero. And a personal passion project like this deserves to be shouted about. It was clearly an all-hands-to-the-pump, crowdfund project but it brings to the centre stage a quirky confused soon- to-find-that-she-is-bisexual character that deserves attention. https://archive.org/details/93091NeverTooLate060215
I put up about it on my Facebook and sent a congrats to the star. Well why not, she was asking for followers on the film page. And she messaged me back. Here is a filmmaker and established New York theatre creative who is so part of her own creation that she, like Tupaq with Tides, is connecting direct with people who watch it.
So my congratulations to Jezabel Montero and Tupaq Felber on have a dream and going out there to make it happen. And my call out to all of us who randomly see movies or pieces of theatre is to remember that we can and should shout about what we see so that these creatives can get stronger traction for their work.
Honestly I enjoyed both these movies more than Mary Queen of Scots which I saw earlier in the week. So much money and so much mud but such clean costume and so many beardy blokes plotting with and against each other. I did love David Tennant, Simon Russell Beale, and of course Saoirse Ronan shining through in the charismatic title role, and of course our own Blackness Castle as a location. But canals, Malay food. New York acting madness, and quirky Cubans all did it for me more than beardy blokes plotting Brexit-like.