Tag Archives: production

Questions about Magda

Making films is not just a simple case of writing a script, getting together a few camera angles and hey presto, you have made movies. It is always a lot more complex than that. As the preparations for the shoot of Great Brytania continues, I have been in communication with Marzenna Więcek (who plays the part of Magda) and have been answering her questions about the character. As the writer (and the director), it is me who has to create a mold so that Marzenna can fit into the character I want to portray on the screen. So below are some of the questions she asked, and my answers.

Next week, I will answer the final, most important Question about Magda:

What is Magda’s target? To Adapt?

To Survive, plain and simple.

What are Magda’s aims?

To get more drugs. She is hooked, and both the physical and more importantly, the psychological hold of the drug on Magda is, at the moment, unbreakable.

Is Gemma her first girlfriend? No. Magda is a lesbian, not bisexual. One of the reasons Magda left Poland was that she could not resolve the conflict between society and her sexuality. Running away to the ‘big city’ is a common phenomena amongst young gay/lesbian people seeking a more tolerant backdrop to their sexuality ten or twenty years ago.

Has Magda slept with guys before?

Yes. Magda experimented when she was younger, but was very uncomfortable sleeping with men. This is how she knows that she is fully lesbian rather than a lesbian identified bisexual.

Was she in love with some guy?

No.

Has she had before some sexual experiences with any woman? Or with Gemma?

Yes, she has been sexually active with women both in Poland and London. Magda has had more female sexual partners while in London.

Is the relationship with Gemma more psychical / platonic love?

Magda and Gemma love each other. But obviously, Magda is quite sick, and Gemma has given birth recently, so their sex drive has diminished recently.

Does Magda want physical intimacy? Did the drugs not kill her sex drive?

Magda is as sexual as the next human being. The drugs both enhance and depress her appetite for sex. Obviously, the drugs have a major effect on her mentality, and the obtaining and consumption of drugs is Magda’s priority. But like anyone else, Magda wants sex with her girlfriend, Gemma.

When was her mother dead?

When Magda was a teenager. I would say around 14 years old.

How did Magda’s mother die?

Cancer, easy answer, difficult for the character to deal with.

How did the father deal with her death?

Badly. The major reason he drinks is that he has never been able to reconcile his grief.

Is she accusing the father because of that?

There is definitely resentment and anger directed towards her father. Grief is a complicated emotion, and while she does not blame her father for her mother’s death, their is anger (misdirected at the father) for why she had to go rather than him. Also, remember that the father does not accept Magda’s sexuality, which further adds tension to their relationship.

Is she accusing the mother?

Of course there is also anger towards the mother at why she had to die and leave her behind. As I have mentioned previously, grief is a complicated emotion. I will talk to Marzenna about this when I come to Poland.

Was the mother happy with the father? Yes.

Did M. talk with the mother about her sexual orientation?

No, that was not done in 1990’s Poland.

How the mother reacted on this?

While the mother might have suspected about Magda’s sexuality, to be honest, she died before Magda reached any form of sexual maturity.

Did the mother betray the father? Do You have suspicions about it?

No, they stayed married faithfully, with their ups and downs.

How was the mother treated by the father?

Like a Polish housewife. Remember, the mother would have died around the time of the early 1990’s, and socially, Poland was a very different place from now. Less divorce, more conservative family values. People stayed married for longer.

How long did Magda take drugs?

Petty drugs (alcohol and cannabis) would have started from mid-1990’s, when Magda was in her late teens. Heavier drugs, she would have encountered in London.

Did M. love someone before Gemma?

Of course. If Magda is in her thirties, then Gemma is not her first love.

Did she face any love disappointment before she was betrayed?

Yes. Her girlfriend in Poland probably betrayed her for a man. Remember, she looks at that photograph at the bus terminal, and is one more reason to leave Poland. Magda feels that Polish girls (when she was there in the 1990’s/early noughties) will eventually bow to society norms and ‘become’ heterosexual.

Did she hurt anyone?

I’m sure Magda is no angel, but Magda probably sees herself more as a victim, and that would be bound up in the grief of her mother’s death.

Is he afraid she can loose Gemma?

Yes and no. Magda is a bit older than Gemma, and part of her wants Gemma to have a better life without herself, the AIDS victim. But of course, if Gemma left Magda, she would be emotionally distraught. But remember, the problem with Magda (and Gemma) they love each other, but not themselves enough.

In which way the heroin made her emotionally wild?

Heroin in fact probably calms Magda down, makes her quite mellow. Crack Coccaine on the other hand will make her brave enough to laugh at Ritchie.

Does she have suicidal thoughts?

All the time.

Since when was Magda infected with HIV?

Okay, a bit of technicality here. The definition of AIDS is different from country to country. Here, in the UK, it is when the White Blood Cell count (the cells that attack bacteria and viruses) drops below a certain level. Now, while drugs can reverse this count upwards, in the UK, once you have been diagnosed with AIDS, you, cannot be undiagnosed and revert to HIV, even though your White Blood Cell count has risen to more ‘normal’ levels.

Magda got an infection, went to the local health clinic. A lot of outreach health workers are available in London to women working in the sex industry. They provide free (NHS) and of course, confidential help to all that visit them. Magda, while sick, would have got tested for HIV and was then found to be infected.

Now, to directly answer the question, Magda has probably had HIV for three to four years, but as she is bad with her medication (partly due to being a drug taker and so not having any concept of time, plus the fact that she really does not want to cure herself) means that Magda now has full blown AIDS. Remember, Magda’s cuts and sores are not healing.

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Amigos Amigos – Finished!

I have waited years to say this, but I have finally completed the editing for’Amigos Amigos’, my documentary about Country Music in Seychelles. The best part of four years and nine hours of footage condensed into 48 minutes of music snippets and interview.

I am shattered from it. Really, I cannot believe it is done, but now cmes al the clean up work. And so here is what is left to do:

1) Get permission to use the music.

For the first time I am using other people’s music, and so need clearance rights from the record companies. This will prove to be…interesting, but as it is just for ‘film festivals’, then I hope for it to be relatively simple…(famous last words?)

2) Clean up the sound and footage.

The film was recorded on my SD camera, which means the sound is all over the place! Plus, at 48 minutes, it is just too long. So the clean-up will require me to also cut some of the interviews down. Ideally, I would want the film to be around the 40 minute mark.

3) Translation.

Some of the interviews are in Kreol – the language of the Seychelles, a French patois. I will need to get my subtitle hand ready to put those interviews into English.

So, I still have my work cut out. But it does feel good to finally hve this film under the belt and on the way to distribution!

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Film Poster

Just to get me started, I have a new poster for the film. Well, actually, this poster has been in circulation amongst the production team for a while, but I think it is time to release it generally.

This will not be the final design for the poster. Hell, it is not even the final name – South of the River is very much a working title. Actually, at the production level, we are calling it Ritchie Fernando, after one of the characters, just because it is less of a mouthful. For applications to grants, permission letters to organisations and to the performers, we are calling it South of The River, because it sounds more artistic. And for the general public? Well, that is something we still have not finalised.

But one thing that is very much a part of this film, is the bilingual nature of it. South of The River is partly set in Poland and partly set in London, and also has two languages for the dialogue in the film, English and Polish. It is just the way the story rumbles, the way my imagination held itself in a thrall while writing the script, and the despair the production team has as we translate the script into two languages. Already, the Polish dialogues have been translated, but now it is to translate everything into Polish, so both sides of the linguistic divide can get an idea of what the hell is going on.

Unfortunately, I am not the translator. I have someone working very hard on this – and I feel the pain. Just inserting the translated bits into the script numbs my mind, but to translate, check, re-check fr mistakes takes precision and skill. I have no attention to detail, when it comes to the written word, so all my mistakes are there to air in public. A quick trawl through this blog reveals my awful spelling and grammar, so in a script, this is unforgiveable. For me, writing the script is quick, but proof reading and correcting the script takes ages.

But there is something exciting about making a film in two countries. Sure, the logistics are an absolute nightmare. And as a result, my brain really hurts with what to do and how to do it. But in the end, I have wanted to do this story for a very long time. A burning desire has been inside of me, and it is this desire that has led me to this bi-lingual production.

And yes, it is terrifying. Making a film is always scary, but to use two different languages, to shoot in two different countries and to shoot across two different cultures. This is going to be a huge challenge for me to accomplish.

So you can see why the blogging has been very patchy since the start of the year. It is why I have had to reduce my presence online. It is a simple reaction to actually getting things done. Sure, I still procrastinate, and forget things. But life, already busy, is about to get a whole lot busier. THose 10,000 hours are going to get achieved soon…

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Film lovin?

No.

My goodness, it has been the most un-film like film week. For starters, I was not ding nythin creative. Instead I have been doing paperwork. First of all, dealing with the tax man (I am dormant – I have no cash!). THen doing grant applications and awriting summaries, treatments, character descriptions and organising an audition weekend.

When you make films, especially in the per-production stage there is very little creativity involved. Most of it is shuffling bits of paper back and forth, trying to make things more digestible.

And I have things to read myself. To friends have sent me their work to read, and I just have not had the time to do so. My last day off being nine days ago, and that was spent on a rail replacement bus to Whitstable!

So, as I finally finish all these applications, I will be able to (finally) free some time up to finish Amigos-Amigos and more importantly, to get on with the actual work of making a new film. Yes, this project has been in the planning stage since Autumn last year, and the script (now second draft) was finished at the beginning of the month. But, most of the time I have been spending dong the little, but essential things. Crossing the t’s and dotting the lower case j’s…

If anyone tells me that making a film is glamarous…grr…

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January Business

New Year, Resolutions broken, but very busy. I have started working on a feature length project which means for the next few days I am busy with paperwork. So apologies if the blog posts are sporadic, as I am currently in the middle of bureaucratic hell.

Kisses to all concerned! Will get back to blogging and reading blogs in the coming week.

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Irfan Post 20 – Burn, baby, burn!

I am going to be blunt. My cast and crew probably did not give two hoots about the previous posts, but were politely reading them. But this post, they do care about:

For the past two days, I have been burning these babies. The film, is finished!

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Irfan Post 18c – The last one on Colur Correction…

…And not before time. The stuff bores me silly, but it is, well, essential to making the pic as beautiful as possible.

Here is a shot from the last scene to be shot. And that scene is normally the director’s nightmare. The last scene that is shot is normally the most rushed, the one when the cast and crew is at its most rushed and fatigued. And if it is outdoors, the one where the sunlight level is constantly changing as the sun sets in the sky.

Yeah, note to self, the next time I shoot a final scene, make sure it is indoors…

So this was the scene where I am having the most difficulty in correcting the colours. I knew it when editing, this would be the scene that would stump me. Take a look at the original shot:

Time. When the sun goes down, you are racing against time, and it is humanly impossible to work against the sunlight levels, no matter how much goodwill is on set.

Right, so as you can see, the scene looks really bleached out, and a little red. So first things first, I got rid of the red and slightly darkened the clips in this scene:

Next, I moved onto the secondary corrections and managed to enhance Irfan’s face as well as bump up the colour of the car. I also removed some of the light from the fence in the background, so as not to distract from the character’s emotion onscreen.

It is Christmas, so I am on the computer? Hell yeah! One of the best day’s to start the rendering, but that is another blog post – number 19 – the one that the cast and crew will be almost looking forward to (well, they are waiting for post number 20).

Merry Christmas everyone!

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