Gary Cranner • Producer, Chezville
“It’s important to leave some room for the artists”
by Marta Bałaga
- The Norwegian Producer on the Move wants you to join the cult
Working as an editor before co-founding the Stavanger-based production company Chezville in 2011, Gary Cranner is now developing the English-language war thriller White Rose, Black Forest as well as Underland by Arild Østin Ommundsen, continuing their long-term partnership. Selected to represent Norway at European Film Promotion's Producers on the Move, Cranner talked to us about his background as an editor and the type of films produced by Chezville.
Cineuropa: It seems that you really embrace your past as an editor, stating that Chezville was based on the idea that “the experience and knowledge of directors and editors can be used to create new ways of producing films.”
Gary Cranner: We are all striving to be so efficient these days, but we need to connect with the stories we are telling. After all, it’s an age-old tradition. Our job as producers is not just to think about money, but to remain open to the actual experience of making a movie. It can’t be just about “delivering content”, which is an expression I already find problematic.
If we work in different ways, we can achieve different results. You can use the editing room as a writing room, reimagining the film. In an old interview, Steven Soderbergh said he always budgets in for five days of shooting, two or three months after principal photography. It’s important to leave some room for the artists and find the right way to make each individual film: our last three have all been shot over 1-2 years.
Your collaborators are encouraged to explore natural lighting, smaller crews – it reminds me of Dogme 95.
We need to rethink why we need these big crews and what we are using them for. If you have a scene featuring a baby, walking over to the foggy window and seeing the sun coming through the rain, you can spend half a million euros on it if you want. Or you can look for opportunities for cinema everywhere: go to your friend’s house, one that has a baby, on the right day and get your shot. In our last film, Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers, the directors cast their own daughters. That’s what we are searching for: people who can exploit reality and turn it into cinema.
We are not as good with technology as we like to think in this industry – we are not using it to save money and time. At Chezville, we are encouraging everyone to think differently. It’s a whole lifestyle, which is why some people call us a cult [laughter].
You have been working with Arild Østin Ommundsen for many years now – you made this whole leap together. Does it help, having someone like that by your side?
We are lucky enough to have known each other since we were in our early twenties. I worked on his films in different capacities and then we decided to commit to “the cult”. We have developed this language that’s almost non-verbal. He sends me the script, I come over and after taking one look at me he goes: “I know, I will fix it.”
We have worked together in the company for 10 years and have been friends for much longer than that, we have similar references and ideas about what storytelling should be. Our goals have aligned in many ways, but maybe you should check if he can confirm that [laughter]. He makes me want to finance things better, to find the right amount of money or the right locations. I hope that my work inspires him too.
With English-language films, like your upcoming White Rose, Black Forest, there is this pressure to go bigger sometimes. Is that something you are considering now?
We came to the conclusion that we need to think a little bit bigger. Recent developments taught us that we need to be making movies that aren’t just for the cinema or for the Norwegian audience, so we are developing a slate of projects with an international focus. Still, you have to remember where the magic is. Bigger budgets don’t have to exclude creative thinking: take Terrence Malick’s The New World. You have this huge production, but when you look at the behind-the-scenes, there are three guys running around with a camera.
In our business, the middle men have taken over. We think there is only one way to make films: you have six weeks of shooting, 12 weeks of editing, the first draft of the script, the second. We want to step outside of it all. It’s not an intellectual standpoint, it’s actually very practical: what works best for you? We need to challenge ourselves, also because we can’t take it for granted that our projects will get the support: our culture here in Stavanger is different from Oslo. Without this fire inside, we have nothing. Or we would all need to move to Oslo.
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