Making the Film - Interviews

Bille Eltringham - 16/Sep/03

In early September 2003, the film This is not a love song was given huge publicity as it was the first film to be released both theatrically and on the Internet. In this 'short but to the point' interview, director, Bille Eltringham, talks to Michael Bartlett and Stuart Folley about the film and about digital filmmaking in general. Look out for the DVD soon, which boasts a 26 minute 'making of' featurette.

Question 1: "Bille - tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your involvement in the film industry."

Before film school, I worked as a bo'sun on square rigged tall ships, and I was a dresser and prop builder in the theatre. Then I went to Bournemouth Film School where I met writer Simon Beaufoy and producer Mark Blaney. When the three of us graduated, we set up a company called Footprint Films Ltd. We made shorts and then a feature film with kerry Fox for BBC films and Pathe 'The Darkest Light'. In 1999, I directed a 3 part drama for channel 4, written by Tony Marchant, called 'Kid in the Corner' and then I worked again with Simon and Mark this time with the Film Council, on 'This is Not a Love Song'.

Question 2: "Some reviews of 'This Is Not A Love Song' have made reference to the fact that the film was shot with the same 'digital technology' used in Danny Boyle's film, '28 Days Later'. Describe the kind of DV camera(s) used on set, as well as any accessories used such as lenses."

Like other directors, certainly Lars Von Triers and Mike Figgis, we used Sony PD150 (occaisionally with its wide lens) for most of the film. I like its versatility and we wanted to shoot onto DV cam. We also used a small Toshiba 'lipstick' camera on the end of the gun etc... , and the Cannon XL1 for a few long lens shots (not often as the difference in quality between DV cam and mini DV was too apparant.)

Question 3: "What was the motivation behind the decision to shoot on DV?"

Speed, Control, Versatility. Both in terms of the practicalities of shooting and in the difficulities of financing.

Question 4: "Given the flexibility of shooting on DV, what sized roles did improv and storyboarding play?"

We shot from a complete script that Simon wrote, so there is no 'improv'. But the project was set up from a 4 page treatment. In order to make our self imposed 12 day schedule, Simon Had to work arse-about-face. So we cast the two leads and the 4 of us did a 8 day workshop, so that Kenny and Michael were very sure footed about their characters. then we found all the locations. And only then did Simon start writing. He had 2 weeks to deliver. We then had 2 weeks of prep, and then the now infamous 12 day shoot.

Question 5: "Do you believe that you captured the feeling you wished to portray in the film?"

Yes. I had a lot of freedom. I'm proud of it... warts and all.

Question 6: "The film has been marked as ground breaking as it does not follow traditional film making techniques (cast before written, the kinetic camera work, various points of view, released on the internet, to name a few), but what do you feel is the most innovational aspect about this film?"

Probably its internet release, but I had least involvement in that.

Question 7: "The film was shot in a reasonably small time frame (12 days), did you find that this added extra pressure on directing? Sub Q: In hindsight, would you alter the shooting period?"

I wouldn't alter the shooting time. I chose 12 days because I wanted to work without a safety net. I wanted to work with only instincts. I thought if I work at a full sprint, I won't have time to stop myself and worry. No looking back. Just undiluted instincts. Having said that, i certainly wouldn't like to have done it as a first timer. That would just be hell...

Question 8: "What advice would you give to young filmmakers looking to shoot a film on DV?"

Forget the format. Tell the story.

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