Producers on the Move 2013 - UK
by Naman Ramachandran
- Andrea Cornwell (Lobo Films Ltd) produced Ruairi Robinson's The Last Days On Mars which has been selected for the Directors Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival
Like many practitioners in the British media industry, Andrea Cornwell has many strings to her bow. She has produced the sci-fi feature Last Days On Mars (selected for the Directors' Fortnight - see news) and she has co-produced The Scouting Book For Boys. Television credits include Transit, The Yellow House and Colosseum. Andrea also ran the New Directions scheme that introduced new British directing and producing talent in London, New York and Los Angeles for the First Film Foundation and wrote two editions of the useful book for new filmmakers, First Facts. She was nominated as one of the British Council’s Young Screen Entrepreneurs of the year in 2009.
Cineuropa : How did you get into the world of film?
Andrea Cornwell: I actually started in theatre – I ran my own small company in London and worked in the West End on bigger shows. A friend offered me a job on a British gangster film, and I never went back! I’ve worked across several areas in the industry, from development through to physical production, so producing felt like a natural progression. Perhaps the most useful experience was several years working at the First Film Foundation promoting new directors, writers and producers to the industry in London, New York and LA. I got to meet many really interesting upcoming filmmakers and we’ve all kind of grown up together.
Can you share with us some of the experiences of producing Last Days on Mars?
We went on our first development scout for Mars in April 2011 and were in preproduction one year later, so it came together relatively fast. We were lucky in that the subject matter attracted attention from cast and crew - I think they liked the fact it’s an unusual subject for a British film. Of course, it was a relatively small budget for sci-fi, but we tried to use that as an advantage to really focus on the characters and make them as moving and believable as possible. Financing wise, we were backed by Universal, BFI, the Irish Film Board and Prescience, and Focus came on board very early as sales agent. We are an Irish co-production, partly as our director Ruairi Robinson comes from Dublin, but also we were able to tap into the growing VFX industry. We ended up running all VFX and post-production through Ireland: due to the subject matter it was a really substantial part of the film.
You are currently developing Invented Eden. Can you tell us a little more about this project?
It’s a film set on a fantastic true story that I first discovered through a short newspaper article about supposedly the ‘greatest hoax in anthropology’. On researching further, the story was far more complex and interesting than the headline, but clearly had a huge visual scope from jungles to New York and Manila society. Crucially the main characters were also fascinating and felt like they could make great roles for actors. Its currently financing alongside BBC Films, and I hope will go into production next year.
What do you think are the challenges facing the British film industry today?
I’m sure everyone would give a different answer, but it certainly feels like it is getting harder and harder to make dramas, especially with new talent. For films that are very British in setting, the budgets are dropping rapidly and almost impossible without public funding support. It is definitely tough for new directors to break out - films like The Scouting Book for Boys (we made in 2009) feel like they would need to have a micro budget to exist today. That said, Last Days on Mars is also a first feature, and shows that material with a scale and visual ambition can still get made.
You have been chosen as one of EFP’s Producers on the Move. What does this mean to you and how will this be beneficial for you at Cannes?
I’m very much looking forward to meeting the group. I think if you are British it can be too easy to stay within your borders and only think of the English language world, so it’s a good opportunity to all talk together about collaboration.
In collaboration with
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