Friday, 7 October 2011

A film to challenge the most grumpy of Londoner??

Screening date October 12th @3pm - 5pm.
Tricycle cinema, London. 
Tickets £7.50 (single), £18.00 (festival pass)

Simplicity works when you find the right idea. That is what Paul McGhie found with his heart warming tale of two Piñata's that fall in love.

The humans lurk with their ever present need for ultra-violence.. :)
London Lift-Off have decided to close this years festival the same way we have decided to open it, with a couple of films that challenge the grumpy Londoner to look onto a much more sweeter type of life.

Just like Rocket by Jennifer Sheridan, All Piñata's Go to Heaven is an effective silent movie, but where with Rocket we have no humans at all, in All Piñata's the men and women lurk with the ever present danger but initially taking very much a backseat.  Add to this the excellent hand made models, the sexy/risky silly string scene and the shot of the band commit to their finger picking and you have here a wonderfully crafted film, by a wonderfully talented and original filmmaker.

We had a chat with Paul McGhie to see what he had to say.

Your film All Piñata’s Go to Heaven will be closing this years festival, how happy are you about having a film close a film festival in its first ever year?!
I don't think we could be any happier. It's a real honour just to be selected, but to find out we're closing the festival is just wonderful. Whilst making a film, I am constantly asking myself 'how would the audience respond to this?' because the main aim is to make something that the audience can engage with positively. Being part of this festival and closing it goes a long way to proving to ourselves we did what we set out to do. 

It's a wonderful story, where did the original idea come from?
I was at a friend's birthday party and she received a piñata doll sculpted to look like a mermaid as one of her presents. Until then I'd only ever thought of piñatas as donkeys or eggs. The idea of one being designed to look human struck a chord with me. I thought "How tragic, considering the fate of a piñata is to get smashed violently to bits." Then I started to imagine how that tragedy might be heightened if the doll took on more human traits such as love. The story developed quickly from there.

Were the Piñata’s purchased, or built from scratch?
I'm a child of the late 80s/early 90s and programmes like Bitsa and Art Attack were what I grew up on. Any excuse to make something with cardboard and glue and I'm there. I made them myself and they took about two weeks to construct. Buying them was never really an option, as they had to be specially designed to stand on their own and be a bit tougher than your average piñata. Although, by the end of the shoot they were showing signs of wear and tear. It took some clever camera angles and some skilful puppeteering from a few crew members to complete the shoot.

Colourful, full of expression, full of charm, and just waiting to get smashed. 
How long did it take to get the project off the ground?
I started storyboarding in February this year and we were shooting by the start of May. Financially speaking, I always write to budget. I had a great alternative ending worked out where Senior rides off with Seniorita on a piñata donkey, but that would have required a Pixar amount of money. Writing to budget means we can always shoot without having to be reliant on money. Our production company was created so that we all put a little in and work with what we have. We are very lucky that we have the means to beg and borrow our equipment, but even so, renting equipment isn't that expensive if you and your crew are willing to chip in.

Did you encounter any problems?
No matter how well you prepare there are always problems. Filmmaking is all about finding solutions to those problems. Fortunately this time around all we were competing with was a strong wind that kept threatening to knock our dolls over and a lack of extras for the party - although those who did turn up braved the cold heroically. We had to keep rearranging people around so it looked busier than it was, but it could've have been a lot worse. It could have rained.

The music really makes the film, how difficult was this to source?
I'm really interested in silent film and it was great to shoot something, which relied entirely on imagery. Having said that, when you attempt something like this you know the music is all the more important as it becomes ever more integral to the story. Finding 'Ceilito Lindo' wasn't very hard - it's a very old and very famous piece if music. Getting the rights to it however was another story. The original version I tried to get was owned by a record company that wanted £500, which was way out of our budget, then I found a Mariachi band from Brighton who had a recording, but sadly the musician who owned the recording rights lived out in Albania and was unreachable. Fortunately, the lead singer of the band offered to record an entirely new version for the film, which was just great. Of all the organisational issues, the music was the most difficult and I'd advise any new filmmaker to get it sorted before you start shooting as it saves a lot of nail biting later on.

The band have an excellent role to play, in this beautifully crafted film. 
What camera did you shoot it on?
We used the Canon 5D Mk II. It's the first time we had used it and it did an incredible job. The colour and the way it captured the sunlight make the film for me. It also offered a very shallow depth of field that allowed us to focus on the dolls whilst leaving everything else out of focus. This means we get to see the world in which the dolls live from their perspective; a world in which everyone else is just an insignificant blur. Until that blur begins to impede on their lives that is.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring filmmaker?
Well, since I definitely still consider myself an aspiring film maker I can only offer up what I've been told, what I'm taught, what I read and what I try to do everyday and that is eat, sleep and breathe film. If you're not watching films, you should be reading scripts, or reading books on how to make films and how to write scripts. Go to seminars and join film networks. Meet other people who want to make films and most importantly always be making films. Oh, and when you've done that, send them off to festivals. It's your best route to getting noticed.

All Pinata's Go to Heaven is part of the official selection for London Lift-Off FIlm Festival running 10th-12th October 2011 at the Tricycle Cinema in North West London. Click here for tickets
or call the box office now on 020 7328 1000.