Producer on the Move 2014 - United Kingdom
by Naman Ramachandran
- Tristan Goligher (The Bureau Film Company) produced Andrew Haigh’s Weekend and his next, 45 Years, also by Haigh, is nearing completion
Tristan Goligher grew up on a farm in Northern Ireland, in a world that wasn’t particularly into cinema, or art. He didn’t have any real idea of cinema beyond American films until he began to watch Moviedrome on the BBC, hosted by Alex Cox and Mark Cousins. That was his introduction to cinema as something with an artist behind it. At university, where he read Law and Politics, Goligher got access to an SVHS camera and an old linear editing suite and taught himself filmmaking and made several shorts. He then got a job as an executive on a short film scheme run by the erstwhile UK Film Council and developed and was an AD on some 15 shorts. He also worked as an executive producer with iFeatures, Creative England’s low budget filmmaking initiative supported by the BBC, the BFI and Creative Skillset.
Cineuropa: How did you get involved with The Bureau?
Tristan Goligher: In 2007 I joined a feature film called Crack Willow, an experimental, debut feature, backed by the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, as the Line Producer. As the project went on my role grew into being a Producer, and I stayed on throughout post-production overseeing the delivery, but also working very closely with the director and editor. That editor was Andrew Haigh. He’d made some short films, which hadn’t done much in terms of festivals but they were excellent, compassionate, and intelligent. Just the sort of films I want to make. He and I applied for some funding to make a short film on a scheme that The Bureau executive produced, and that short went on to play at the Berlinale, which probably helped me dupe The Bureau into giving me a job. My contract was in a development role, and just for one year. That gave me the time, and support to develop several projects, one of which was Weekend [+see also:
film profile], by Andrew Haigh. When the year was up I was asked to stay on as a producer at The Bureau, and I’m now a partner with Bertrand Faivre, and Soledad Gatti-Pascual.
How did Weekend happen?
Weekend was a tricky project. There was very little interest in it as an idea. We found it impossible to raise any development funding, and at a point we actually put it on the shelf, and began looking at other ideas. After a few months we decided that Weekend really was the film we wanted to make, and agreed that we'd somehow find a way. Andrew was interested in the American indie scene, and filmmakers like Joe Swanberg, Andrew Bujalski, and Lynn Shelton. Filmmakers that weren’t waiting for permission, and literally just did it. That was a big inspiration for me. We decided not to wait for anyone else’s approval, and we developed the idea so that it really could have been made for nothing. In the end however a couple of regional funds in the UK got behind the project, we got the brilliant casting director Kahleen Crawford on board, and off we went. A year later the film premiered at SXSW, the spiritual home of those American indies that had been such a catalyst for us.
Could you please tell us more about your next film, 45 Years?
The BFI, Film4 and Creative England have financed it, and The Match Factory is handling international sales. Andrew actually told me about this idea before we made our first short film together. It’s been in our minds for a long time, and it’s been an incredible experience to see it come to life on screen. We’ve managed to bring together an incredible crew including the DoP Lol Crawley, and with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in the lead roles I think the quality of cast speaks for itself. For now I don’t want to say too much about the project, but I will say that I think it is going to be something really unique within British cinema, and that I'm very excited about sharing it.
What other projects do you currently have in development?
I’ve got quite a few projects in development at the moment. One is a script called Only You, by Harry Wootliff. She previously had a short in Directors’ Fortnight, which was also BAFTA nominated. Only You is a love story about a couple who meet, have a one night stand, fall in love almost instantly, and move in together after just a matter of months. It is about something very specific but at its core is a story about how love can die as we chase what we think we need, rather than embracing what we already have. There’s one project in particular with Andrew which is gaining momentum, and we hope will be our next film together. It’s an adaptation of a beautiful American novel. It’s both a very intimate story of a boy searching for a home, and a portrait of a section of American society for whom the ‘American Dream’ is nothing but a myth. It’s a pertinent story for our world of increasing inequality, and will be a nice evolution of the work we've done together so far. One of the most recent projects I’ve become involved with is about a group of young people from around the world, working on a farm in France. It's a character study of people under pressure, but in the form of a thriller, which I’m excited about getting my teeth into.
What are the challenges facing the UK film industry today. And what are the opportunities?
Like the rest of the world we're facing a huge shift in the business model of independent cinema. There’s been a huge proliferation in types of entertainment over the last century. The first movie theatres didn’t have to compete with the internet, ipads, apps, 50 TV channels, computer games, and cat videos on YouTube. All of which means we can’t guarantee as many eyeballs watching a film, and the financial impact is serious. Average budgets in the UK have more than halved in the last 5 years. This in turn seems to have put more onuses on producers to support the release and audience building of their films. I’m all for this, as I like that more direct connection with people, but so far the economic model hasn’t shifted to acknowledge this work. I feel at the moment we’re stuck between everyone knowing we have to change, but the old guard being reluctant to do so. I do however consider myself lucky. I’m a relatively young producer, and I don’t have that much experience of the ‘golden days’. This is the world I’m making films in, and if I want to carry on I have to find a way for that to make economic sense. I think that’s an exciting opportunity. It’s always better to be the disruptor than the disrupted.
What does being selected as an EFP Producer on the Move mean to you? And how do you think it will help you in Cannes?
As producers we’re only as good as our relationships, and this is a great chance to meet with some of the best young producers across Europe. I’ve been lucky enough to meet international filmmakers through the Rotterdam Lab, and also La Biennale College, which I’ve been involved with. Whilst I’ve not, yet, made films with any of those people they have been a fantastic source of information, knowledge and advice. Hopefully it’s a long career ahead of all of us and one day we will be able to help one another bring some of our films to life.
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