Manchester Film Festival 2017: Across the River Q&A

Click here if you would like to read a review to Across the River before the Q&A.

After the exciting world premier of Across the River, the director Warren Malone and the lead actress Elizabeth Healey were open to a short Q&A session with the audience. This is a film that has taken years to reach this point and they both seemed both overjoyed and relieved to be here. Below are some of the questions asked.

What was the inspiration for the film? Originally it was based upon a real life story although it was altered slightly. In the real life version there was physical intimacy that affected their independent lives causing a messy situation. In the film version there was an effort to hint at what those issues would be without them becoming a reality.

Was the film scripted or were there some improvisation? Actually the film was entirely improvisation. Perhaps a couple of lines here and there were written and the general story arc was set but apart from that the cast were free to make their own way to the conclusions. This has caused some to criticise the film as slow but it is more real this way, more human.

Did you as the director ever want to intervene? If it was terrible or completely off track but that was rare. Usually we’d let it go on because there was always something we could use. Each scene isn’t one take. It’s the combination of lots of scenes spliced together to create the best film possible.

How was it for you as the lead actress in this situation? It was completely freeing. Knowing what the end result is, but being able to get there however we wanted. The ability to try things out is a luxury that isn’t always afforded, so having the opportunity to improvise the entire thing is something I couldn’t pass up on. There were also restrictions. One of the more interesting was surrounding how much of the story you reveal. You have to drop story elements throughout the film. Too many early on and it will drag, too many late on and people will have fallen asleep before they get there.

In the final scene, when we find out whether they kiss or not, was that the idea from the start? We never thought they’d be together. They were together when they were younger so they are revisiting that youthful feeling. That said there were versions of the script pre-production where the outcome was different, and discussions during production on whether we should change our decision. Ultimately though the decision we made was probably the right one.

Was the film difficult to shoot? Sometimes it was easy and sometimes it was hard. It all depended on how busy our locations were. We rarely got permission to film so occasionally we were moved on and would have to come back another day. In that situation we would usually send a crew member to distract them whilst we tried to get the footage we needed. Also something we didn’t anticipate is the fact that you have to pay to feature the London Eye in your film.

How long did filming take and how long was post-production? Well the main shoot was 12 maybe 13 days, with some extra pickups here or there. The post was years though. We too optimistically assumed people would invest in the film after we shot some of our footage. This was not the case and we had to be patient waiting for the money to pay people like the musicians. Some money was raised through crowdfunding which really helped too.

Having a Q&A after the showing really added to the community atmosphere of Manchester Film Festival and they were both incredibly charming, waiting outside the screen to answer any further questions the audience had.

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