Almost a year ago an ambitious independent film project was screened for the first time to an enthusiastic audience. Checking In has gone on to be featured in film festivals across the world and won Best British Film at the London Film Awards 2014. The movie is now available on VOD for the first time and in celebration of its continued success we’re going to be visiting some of the cast and reflecting upon the film in a series of special blogs.
In this continuing series of interviews we have the writer/director of Sally and Tim – Leah Green.
I got involved with “Checking In” through Dave and Kaushy. I had worked with both of them on previous films that I had acted in. After sending a copy of a script I had written to Dave, he then asked me if I would be interested in writing for this anthology film and sent me a synopsis of the story he wanted me to write for.
What aspects of the film did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the variety of emotions that were portrayed and the strength of characters, throughout the entire film. It is purely a character driven film and in some sense, reminds me of a Shakespearean play. There are so many different themes and layers running parallel to each other that carry and support both plot and subplot really well.
I also think that because we had a different writer for each story, it helped in creating three dimensional and palpable characters. In some cases especially anything creative sometimes too many artistic minds on one project can end up being a little haywire and messy but in regards to “Checking In”, I think each writer/director’s story compliments the other without any sense of rivalry.
Where did you draw inspiration from for your story?
Ironically, I was given a basic outline of my story from Dave which was a struggling singer/songwriter who plays the hotel lounge so I can’t take complete creative credit for it. However the plot did resonate with me completely and it was easy for me to relate to that struggling musician character having been there myself. My first love and passion is music so it was quite surreal to create a character that reflected that.
Although never personally having a music manager, I have had people who haven’t believed in me pursuing music as a career and who have not so politely told me to get a real job. As any creative person knows it is almost impossible to just flip the switch and be happy to march to someone else’s beat so with Sally’s story I wanted to try and show that. I also wanted her story, on a broader sense to reflect those not pursued and forgotten dreams that everyone once had as a child which is subtly suggested from the little girl in the story.
She represents the “can do” and “nothing’s going to stand in my way” aspect of Sally and ultimately gives Sally that forgotten perspective of pursuing her passion.
How did it feel to see your characters come alive on screen?
Honestly as my first writing and directorial, it was really bizarre. From previous acting experience I was kind of waiting for someone to tell me what to do.
Luckily, I did find it a little easier as the shoot went on, being able to draw from how I personally would act out a scene to then being able to direct my actors through that approach. I did have a preconceived picture in my head but that soon went out the window once we hit record.
My favourite type of film would have to be the old black and white films. I absolutely love Bette Davis and could literally watch anything she’s in. My favourite film of hers is really hard to pin down however and I would have to draw it as a tie between “All About Eve” and “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?”. Both are fantastic, character driven stories with intelligently written dialogue. I do love “Bringing Up Baby” which stars Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant and like a lot of Davis films offers, that same, well-thought and intelligent dialogue and interesting characters but also offers a slight slapstick comical value at the same time.
That said I think James Dean’s films are fantastic too and I guess after comparing all of the films mentioned I enjoy films and stories with really brilliant dialogue and characters that you could pull from the screen and place them in a real life situation and know how they would respond and handle it. I think a lot of attention to characters and dialogue has been lost nowadays and studios and movies now rely on high grossing actors and special FX.
What was the most challenging aspect of the production for you?
As I mentioned before I think the lack of behind the scenes knowledge i.e. directing, was my biggest hurdle. I’ve always written and envisioned a story and the characters but as a director it’s your job to actually take that story and turn it into something that others can see and hear so that was completely new to me and I did feel like a fish out of water so to speak.
Click the image below to see the film’s trailer –
VHX Link (click image)
Check back soon for more Checking In.