INTERVIEW: Geoffrey Fletcher Talks Imagination
Tony Tellado: So great to meet you. I had the privilege in seeing all the other films from last year. Actually I covered the red carpet at Tribeca and spoke to almost all the filmmakers except one.One in a while you see a movie and you can count them on one hand that really touch you and stay with you a long time.And Precious was one of those movies for me.
Geoffrey Fletcher: Thank you so much. I think that’s the biggest compliment that people still think of your work years later.I never get tired of hearing that.
Geoffrey Fletcher: I’m thankful to have one movie like that in my life.Hopefully we’ll continue on and see what else we can do. I have been so moved by how and surprised by how people connected with it.I believed it would be a good story but I didn’t think that anyone would see it and I was hoping it would give me a chance to make another one.I think when you’re writing something and think the opposite meaning that everyone will see it.Then no one will see it.
Geoffrey Fletcher: Maybe there’s something to that.
Tony Tellado: With the Imagination Series, how is the selection process going right now ?
Geoffrey Fletcher: It’s going very well. Not only did we have a greater number of entries this year, the quality is there. Last year we had thirty three countries submit and this year it’s sixty eight. We had some other numbers individual numbers that we can get to you but we are shocked. Some of the places people take this very minimal script which is designed for people to take it where they will and invest themselves in it.It’s shocking. They’ll start somewhere really far out bring it back around and tie it up so it all makes sense and actually resonates with you.It isn’t some wild or clever scenario.There’s humanity in it.We’re always looking for imaginative, inspired, soulful,daring , human voices and visions.It’s also very important to us that to look for things that weren’t necessarily the most polished or familiar but where you could see an inspired individual exploring and we got that.
Tony Tellado: What does it mean personally to be involved. I talked to Adrian Brody early this year.He told me what he thought.Now I’d like to hear what this means to you.
Geoffrey Fletcher: To me it’s a huge pleasure.I feel very fortunate to work on things that I care about and believe in.It was almost a coincidence that we all came together. Years ago I taught film at Columbia and NYU.Columbia had an assignment with the exact same prinicipal.To do it now, is really nice because I believe that it’s structure has so many wonderful possibilities that it’s just great to continue doing it but to do it with the entire world.
Tony Tellado: Yes.It’s an amazing landscape.And speaking of that diversity, everyone did so many different films this past year. There was a stop motion film, and I was so happy that stop motion was used. Everyone uses CGI but that one would not have worked CGI. It had to be stop motion.They also tried to expand the bounderies of fantasy and science fiction a little bit.Is that what you look for ? That’s what was in those winners. In this next group was that something that was there as well ?
Geoffrey Fletcher: It certainly did. We always have a great number of science fiction entries.With in that some deal with post apocalyptic settings.This year I’ve seen some science fiction pieces that were so strong and seemed to have such potential.Such a clear vision that if realized I think could be something quite special. We have all the genres and we always have some strong science fiction.We’ll see. We’re in the process of looking over them now.I suspect we’ll have one maybe more in our mix.
Tony Tellado: The quality of the work I saw like the film I saw called ‘Algo Concreto’ It was really looking at humanity more than anything else.Greed and if you had that one wish what would you wish for.It tells about a person and what we’re like as a species.It can do that without being preachy and it gets the message across.
Geoffrey Fletcher: Indeed. For me and you just touched upon this, the greatest work in any genre is grounded in basic humanity.Sometimes the setting will change and may not be on this planet. Sometimes the faces will change. ET is such a human film for example. Sometimes you can see an animated film and cry and the see a film shot in your neighborhood and not be moved.I think the best Sci-Fi gives you a perspective where you can see things anew. Sometimes the surrounding can be too common and actually make it harder to see the story. What did you think of Star Trek: Into The Darkness ?
Tony Tellado: I liked it. I thought J.J. Abrams took a lot of chances.Flipping the death scene instead of Spock dying, Kirk dies. That took balls to do that.
Geoffrey Flectcher: I agree with you.I was thinking the same thing. Then I reflected back on the first one.The first one was pretty gutsy too. Let’s wipe out the other time line and destroy Vulcan. That’s the kind of daring that we certainly respond to with this competition.I am friends with one of the cast members and they might participate next year.We’ll see.
Tony Tellado: That would be nice. I’d like to see that.That’s what I saw in these films the first time around.They took chances. They didn’t play it safe.The fact that they worked within a budget and they did what they did was pretty awesome. They didn’t let that stop them.
Geoffrey Fletcher: Same here.The realization of these scripts was so inspiring. The details, not only the production value and peformances. But on some of the films the sound design was so inspiring. Imagination is one of my favorite words but inspired is as well.And when a production is inspired it runs through every aspect of it and hopefully culminates in something that will stay with you and resonates.You feel it.It’s something that you can’t buy.An enormous budget never guarentees that sort of inspiration that you would leave the theater stirred. So when you talk about budgets of these, I think that the budgets are healthy but I think they are at a good level because limitations foster creativity.And I think that it helps to keep that strong current of imagination running through these projects.
Tony Tellado: As far as this year judging, did you learn anything from last year that you could apply to this year ?
Geoffrey Fletcher: Good question. The juries we had both years are people who have done great work,who understand story quite well.As I get older, I have found that being open to other people’s strengths and experiences only helps to arrive at the best decision.It may seem obvious but getting a smart jury goes a long way to reaching the best verdict.
Tony Tellado: I’m glad that Bombay Sapphire is involved with something like this.There are not as many avenues as people think even with internet films for filmmakers to get the money to get films made.The Kickstarter programs are great but those don’t always pan out. We need all of those things for young filmmakers these days.
Geoffrey Fletcher: Absolutely. I think Bombay Sapphire and Bacardi have done admirable work to this end. They really, really care. You can see it in all the details and imagination that they put towards this.If more companies would do something like this I think they would find themselves rewarded.I agree with you. I think they’ve done a remarkable job. And every year they step it up.They work so hard to see what they can make better every year and how they can reach more people every year. For us it has been important to give opportunities to new voices but another element of this that I am so thrilled about is that someone might give it a try who wouldn’t have otherwise.To have those few words on the page, that’s enough to put them over the edge to jump in with both feet.I think that’s a great thing. It doesn’t matter if they are not selected or not.Maybe they’ll try again next year or try something on their own because we always test ourselves physically with marathons things like that.But how often do we really test the bounds of our imagination.
Special thanks to Nike Comm, The Bombay Sapphire Imagination Series and The Tribeca Film Festival