London 2012 Festival Olympic Short Films
The makers of four short films from the London 2012 Festival talk us through their creations
Showing as part of the London 2012 Festival – the celebration of the arts running alongside the Olympics – are four short films commissioned by BBC Films and Film 4 from directors working at the heart of British cinema. We took a look at the four films and asked their makers to tell us how they approached an open brief: they could make whatever they wished.
Asif Kapadia’s ‘The Odyssey’
The ‘Senna’ director’s portrait of London mixes new aerial photography with footage of the city between 2005 and 2012 and the voices of Londoners.
Asif Kapadia: ‘I live in London, I grew up here, but I don’t often shoot here. So I thought: I’ll do something in London, about Londoners. I began by going to Stratford and talking to people on the street. Then I remembered how short that moment of fun was in 2005, when we won the Olympics, because the next day the bombs went off. I was also thinking of the coverage of the riots last summer. Somewhere in the middle of it all, you remember we’ve had an economic crisis. There is a lot of pain and trouble in life, but that’s why I love sport: it makes me forget.’
Mike Leigh's 'A Running Jump'
The ‘Another Year’ director has shot a colourful day in the life of a family in east London starring Eddie Marsan as second-hand car dealer… and everywhere, people are running…
Mike Leigh: ‘The film is just a bundle of gags really, isn’t it? I thought it important to incorporate the Mayan predictions for the end of the world in 2012 too! We rehearsed it for about three weeks and shot it in about two. It’s the first film we’ve shot on digital. And it’s my only film with a helicopter shot. We were shooting and a few Chinooks flew over and I said to [cinematographer] Dick Pope: “I’ve never been in a helicopter.” We started talking about the end scene and we realised it would be wonderful.’
Lynne Ramsay’s ‘The Swimmer’
The director of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ films a young man swimming in a rural river and crafts a soundscape of British music and voices from films.
Lynne Ramsay: ‘It was a liberating experience. The brief was very open: “inspiration”, that’s all they said. I’m working on a sci-fi film, and that influenced it a bit. It’s all about sound, music and endurance. It’s not a narrative, but I think it builds a drama through sound. I put myself in the place of the swimmer – I used to swim every day and would go into a trance. The kid we used was really zen. He was a swimmer, but it turned out he could act too. I recommend more directors work with athletes! You get what you ask for!’
Max & Dania’s ‘What If…’
The co-directors of the ‘StreetDance’ films lend their knack for telling young urban stories to a slick tale set on a west London estate. A guardian angel (Noel Clarke) shows a young boy, Joe, all the positive talent around him, reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘If…’.
Max: ‘I guess we got the call because we did “StreetDance” and because of our background in music videos – because we represent youth culture. There was no brief. They told us we didn’t have to mention the Olympics.’ Dania: ‘We thought: What are the kids’ version of the Olympics? How do they express themselves in a positive way? Street sports and music.’ M: ‘Kids are being creative in their own worlds. We wanted to show that.’ D : ‘The Kipling poem, “If…”, has such a history that we thought: Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we got kids motivated by the poem as a blueprint of what life could be like? But we didn’t want to be preachy.’
The London 2012 Festival films screen at cinemas across London at 6.30pm on Monday 25 June, followed by a satellite Q&A with all four directors.