Recently, I attended the Edinburgh Film Festival for the first time, but with a nice twist on my visit.
Once again, thanks to the the Into Film scheme, which last allowed me to interview Oscar nominated actress Saoirse Ronan, I attended the festival as one of the few reporters chosen to cover certain films and events.
During my time, I conducted two interviews, saw what is now one of my most favourite films of the year, and got turned into a “Car” from Pixar’s popular franchise.
My reporting spanned the first week of the festival, which resulted in many back and forth trips to Edinburgh as train after train was taken. Firstly, on Tuesday 20th, I attended the screening of documentary film The Farthest, which focuses on two probes that are billions of miles away from earth. Named Voyager 1 and 2, the film follows the journey of the people who created the probes, mixing archive footage with modern day interviews as documentary’s tend to do. Particularly interesting were things that were sent with the probes, a capsule including most notably golden vinyl records. The only two in existence, the records had “sounds of the Earth” on, with songs taken from various cultures, one most notable to myself being Johnny B Goode. On it’s case was instructions on how to play the records, should life be encountered. It also held greetings from all different languages, English, French etc, stretching even to those like Ancient Greek. Overall the film was highly interesting, not only in the facts but also in the way it was shot, interestingly using things such as blurry car lights to almost represent stars. It is documentary’s such as this which are worth watching, real and fascinating, as opposed to those late night faked ghost shows.
The interview with director Emer Reynolds came on Saturday the 24th, but not before Friday, in which I saw two different films I had to review. I was already booked in for an advanced press screening of Cars 3, which led to me rapidly watching the first two the night before, having admittedly not seen them. However, after a suggestion from an Into Film correspondent on the Tuesday, the Netflix original film Okja was highlighted to me. Next thing I knew, I was booked in for the press screening of that come the morning of Friday. But I have to say, I’m glad I was. Okja was a great film, one of my favorites so far this year as mentioned before, although my warning for the film is that it isn’t as family friendly as it makes itself out to be. Something great about seeing Okja in a cinema was also the rarity of such an occasion, as being a Netflix original, Okja will generally never be seen on the big screen. It was amazing, and I think seeing it in a cinema with a press audience, who are all much more attentive and responsive than regular audiences, especially to such a powerful film, was the best way of watching a film I have experienced. Cars 3 came after, a very big contrast in the films of the day, but itself was good nonetheless, taking a slightly different approach to the story as I thought it would, which worked in its favour. It was highly entertaining, and, to be honest, probably my favourite of the trilogy (although I admit binge watching the first two late at night caused me to fall asleep during the second one, so I don’t know for sure.)
Then came the big things. Two interviews, one Saturday and one the Sunday after, the 25th. My location for both interviews took place in the same office building, which was a very strange place. It held room after room that seemed almost the same and unused, empty cafe style areas, deckchairs and an out of action retro games machine lying around. Saturday’s interview was with Farthest director Emer Reynolds in which we spoke about what her own message and song addition to the golden record would be, her ideas behind ordinary objects representing space, and her main interest in the project- which stemmed from an interest in space from a young age. All seemed to go well, and an extra bonus was her PR saying to me that even she thought it was a really good interview.
Following this was Sunday’s interview with one of Pixar’s top story-boarders, Scott Morse. He gave a very interesting insight into how to become a story-boarder, what working days were like for him and his team, and also some good advice to people first starting out in that career, which was to “be the camera.” He says so many people dismiss camera angles due to films being an animation, but you need to always be aware of what the camera is looking at, and how to be mindful of cutting quickly during action, not showing the alley a car could turn into 5 minutes beforehand. When asking for further details, I actually discovered that he and his team have had Star wars swear jars before, where every time a reference was made, money went in. They’d also tried reference cards, where only one reference was allowed per day. Something I love about interviews is when you make them more “chatty” in a way, you can find out stuff you never would have otherwise. To top the interview of, Scott gave me a drawing of myself as a cars character, which he had been drawing while we spoke. He described how he made me a younger sports car due to my age, made sure to detail my thick eyebrows, similar to his own. One thing that surprised me was how he turned what must be my noticeable philtrum into a hood ornament for the car.
Overall, the week was amazing, and I enjoyed all the films I saw and definitely enjoyed the interviews. Once again I have to thank Into Film for providing me this incredible opportunity, and all the feedback the team present there provided me with.