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Sally Potter: “The beginning of a new way of looking at film”

September 18, 2009

From Netribution

“Anyone can be a filmmaker. What’s really hard is to make a good, interesting film. A computer doesn’t help you write a better novel; writing in a notebook longhand is just as good.

“So technology can’t do the job for you, but it can make the medium more accessible to more people… Within a short time, I could get 30,000 people coming to my site, from countries where Rage doesn’t have distribution, and they’re talking to each other about the themes they relate to in it. That’s something that’s so new and extraordinary, really.”

Orlando director Sally Potter’s latest film, Rage, will be the first feature-length film to premiere on mobile phones. With an ensemble cast including Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench, Diane Wiest, Jude Law and Steve Buscemi, the first of seven episodes of the film will be streamed on Monday on Babelgum’s free mobile platform, across the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with a new episode of the film every day. The mobile launch will be closely followed by the DVD launch, an interactive satellite premiere across a number of UK cinemas (including the British Film Institute) and a live-stream on Justin.tv.

Phew. How can one film work in so many formats? Netribution asked Suchandrika Chakrabarti to meet up with Potter and find out.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of democratising filmmaking, and I’m not sure whether that’s really the case. I’ve used the phrase myself, but democracy is about one person, one vote. It’s about people having a voice. I’m not sure the goal is that every single person in the world should be making a film. There wouldn’t be enough people to watch.”

Netribution: So how does the film work with the various methods of distribution? People are going to be watching it in very different media.

Potter: The film itself is a story that happens over seven days, so by its nature it divides into seven parts. As it’s filmed in close-ups upon the actors’ faces, it can work on a small scale, but also looks very beautiful up on the big screen. I think it does work at both ends of the visual scale. As it’s a whodunnit, a murder mystery, it does keep you going into the next day and the next to find out how things unfold… each episode ends on a sort of cliffhanger.

People have the option to get the DVD later on, and there is also the premiere at the BFI, which is going out live on 40 screens across the country. There will be a Q&A after, and, for instance, Jude Law is going to be in New York, in his dressing room for Hamlet, and we’re going to Skype him in.

Babelgum saw the film and really liked the idea of distributing it. This is one of their first feature films; it feels like the beginning of a new way of looking at films, and for people to access them easily and properly. Streaming technology is so much better these days.

The rest is over at Netribution

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