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SxSW 2017 Interview: US AND THEM director Joe Martin

US AND THEM at SxSW 2017!
by Jason Whyte

"US AND THEM is about a down on his luck working class guy who decides to start a revolution. It is an angry film, that fizzles with raw energy and dark humour. It taps into and explores the sense of resentment that has fueled Brexit and Trump. It's a film about what is happening right now." Director Joe Martin on US AND THEM which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

Congratulations on your film playing in Austin at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Thanks! Yeah this is my first time at SXSW. It's a festival I have admired from afar for a long time and I'm really excited to screen US AND THEM here. Some of the names we are along side is head spinning and I'll definitely be attending.

So how did you get into this movie-making gig?

When I was at film school I made some short films called redundant and Britain's young soldiers. They did well for me playing festivals etc and I ended up winning some royal television society awards. Off the back of that success I started working with broadcasters in the UK. In 2016 I directed a feature doc called KEEP QUIET that played in competition at Tribeca.

So how did US AND THEM come together for you?

I was talking to producer Danielle Clark about the real sense of division we both felt in the air in Britain. We both had this awareness of a tension building up in society being caused by the inequality gap. So I got together a script and she worked with the execs and got the money. It has been interesting because since we first started talking about making this film that tension has come to the fore, with Corbyn, Sanders, Brexit and Trump.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

On this film I worked as the writer, director and editor. So for sure I was always juggling multiple jobs and had a huge workload. But If I'm honest it was always easy to keep going. I really believe in this film so I would say passion and enthusiasm will always get you through. But I will admit I haven't slept much the last couple years having done two features in that time and I am now an absolute caffeine fiend. I will get through crates of Coke Zero every week!

So what was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

I think on most independent films the biggest challenge is going to be schedule and shooting ratios and ours was no different. But everyone pulled together and everything was incredibly well organised. The rewarding thing was getting into the edit and realising we had pulled off the mental gymnastics and hard graft and got everything we needed.

I'm about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie and how your look was achieved photographically.

We shot the film on the Arri Alexa and our main go to lenses were angenieux zooms. I have known the director of photography Stefan since film school and we have worked together a ton of times so we have a really good understanding. The film is often based around the subjective viewpoint of Danny and as a character he feels uneasy and insecure with his place in the world and society. Visually we used camera movement to make the film reflect this viewpoint. So throughout the camera pushes in closer on Danny and it often has a quite oppressive effect as if the gaze of the audience is prodding him or goading him. At other points the camera circles Danny, caging him in and agitating him. I think it embodies the film with Danny's anxious energy and a sense of his feeling that the whole world is working against him.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Seeing it with a big audience. It's an edgy and funny film that I think is a really good fit with the SxSW crowd. The right audience can really make a film.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

We are still in the process of working all that out but it will definitely be out there for people to enjoy.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I think it would just be my home town cinema I used to go to as a kid. I have seen so many great films there and would often dream of one day seeing my own film up on the big screen. For that dream to come true would be a really special moment.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a screening of your movie?

It would depend on how big they are! There's also a weird thing at festival screenings of you never knowing who anyone is and you could find yourself swearing at some big reviewer or acquisitions person. A well timed toot feels like a reasonable compromise.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

I think if you are just starting out then it would be to take advantage of the affordable technology that's now around. It really is easier than ever to make a short and get it out there or to teach yourself some post production software.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

I was once at a festival where they had a special screening of MEAN STREETS, so I would say that. Its one of my all time favourite films.

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/08/17 13:58:07
last updated: 03/08/17 14:02:25
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