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Film Producer Rachel Dargavel on New Film Norfolk

28 September 16 words: Thomas Watchorn
We talk to the Nottingham Trent graduate about new film Norfolk and production company CRYBABY
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Still from Norfolk

Could you talk a little about your role in getting Norfolk made?
I’m one of the producers of the film so I joined when it was first greenlit as an iFeatures Film. I didn’t develop the project myself but joined once funds had been committed by financiers. I worked with Martin [Radich, Norfolk’s writer/director] and Findlay [Pretsell], the other producer to help realise the script all the way through to the edit and the sound design and then on to self-distribution, to have this very small, boutique theatrical release. So I’ve been involved in the project a number of years.

How would you describe Norfolk? It’s not really a traditional British film…
It’s definitely a unique film, quite arthouse. Martin wanted to make a film that was different, not your typical narrative. He’s interested in telling films in a different way so Norfolk is, I suppose, quite a difficult film. It’s not meant to be easy for the viewer or formulaic or follow the generic narrative structures for a film. ‘Unusual’ is definitely part of what Martin wanted to create.

Did that create any unique challenges for the production or for you? Or is it more in how it has come together as a film that has made it unusual?
The thing that became difficult was the edit. We had a very long editing process because it’s difficult to get a film that works with nonlinear structure to a place where it makes enough sense so that people can follow it while still keeping what the director had intended to do. During the shoot we followed the script, but during the edit and sound design, we had to work very hard to make it feel coherent. It’s a fine line between making something enjoyable and making it inaccessible.

You said you are self-distributing. Is that difficult considering the film’s nature?
Yeah, it’s so far from commercial in a traditional sense that we have ended up distributing ourselves. It’s just so difficult to get people to go and watch films and the audience that this film has is quite niche so we decided to self-distribute. We felt it deserved to get seen by people, it deserved to get into cinemas, and for people to enjoy it – albeit on a very limited release.

Did you initially attempt to go through a distributor, then?
We did but people felt it was too difficult a film to position; it wasn’t falling into one genre or another so in the end the only option was to do it ourselves. We’ve had some really great reviews and people have loved it. We’ve heard from people who’ve not loved it so much and that’s okay; it’s all a matter of taste at the end of the day. You can’t expect to create a film like Norfolk and expect everyone to love it because it is challenging. But equally the people who do like and enjoy it really do and as filmmakers we should still be trying to make films which are ambitious in their intentions.

How did you come onto the project?
I had been involved in the iFeatures development process with a different project that got down to the final four - three of them got commissioned and ours was the one that didn’t. I had previously worked with Martin on his first feature Crack Willow many years ago, so when my team didn’t get commissioned, and his did, he approached me to see whether id been interested in working with him on Norfolk.

How do you view the British film industry at this moment?
On one level it’s a really exciting place to be, really busy and lots of films are getting made with a good mix between up and coming and big-budget stuff. The problem in the industry comes for films trying to do something different or not fitting into current marketplace trends and that’s less to do the industry and more with the people watching films. Film is a business. They’re out to make money. If people aren’t going to watch a film then it’s not going to be seen - Norfolk is an example of that.

You also have a production company, could you talk a little about your intentions with that?
CRYBABY is a little production company – it is myself, another producer Anna Griffin, director Al Mackay, and writer Adam Dewar. The idea is that we develop material within CRYBABY and then take it to work with other bigger, more established production companies and partner with them to produce. We want to be a company to support emerging talent and work with directors who want to make shorts and features, supporting a talent pool from within.

Would these be similarly non-traditional or would it be a mixed bag?
More a mix. Norfolk is very much a standalone film. And I’m open to making films that have a different creative approach – my tastes aren’t completely arthouse! As the company grows I’d endeavour to still make projects that I believed in creatively but also films that are more accessible.

So we shouldn’t be expecting Norfolk 2 then?
No I don’t think so! It’s great to make projects that are motivated solely by creativity, but equally as a producer you have to make a living. You can’t always be making films that are so ‘out there’. Always be open to making creative things, but also be sensible about developing a slate of films that can get financed and into the cinemas. I think there’s a balance that you can do and I hope to do that, to make films I’m creatively driven by but are audience friendly.

Norfolk will be showing at Broadway Cinema on Thursday 29 September 2016 at 7:45pm. This will include a Q&A with producer Rachel Dargavel.

CRYBABY website 

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