Monday, 21 March 2016

INTERVIEW with filmmaker Ben Woodiwiss

Benny Loves Killing is a film about many things: it's about those who are lost, about how obsession with cinema bleeds into everything, dreams, desires, family, aspirations, and about the single-minded pursuit of a goal above all else. In many ways the film plays out like a Rorschach print, and each viewer brings their own meaning to everything. Previously we've been very clear about who the good and who the bad people are, but I think we're less sure of this now. Or it's more difficult to answer this confidently. I think we see both good and bad qualities inside ourselves, and this question of 'what kind of person are we?' is currently very difficult to answer. At least, it should be. In the Pre-Production of the film the Producer, Nick Jones, put an interesting question to me: what if you were judged for one day of your life, in isolation, outside of everything else you did? That was something that very much came to the fore in Benny Loves Killing. We only see Benny for the running time of the film, and yet we make a number of judgement calls about her. We make these judgement calls all the time, without knowing the whole story, and that's perhaps something we ought to think about more carefully. 

I was writing a number of films for other clients, all with male leads, and I asked one client what he thought of the idea of changing the lead in his script into a woman. I thought it could give everything a freshness that I was looking for. He came at me with a number of reductive reasons: she'd have to get pregnant at some stage, have problems with her boyfriend, etc. I didn't understand this. The idea that a woman in a story is controlled by her biology. As a result I decided to create a drama with a woman at the centre where she has as much freedom as a male character. Once the first step was made it was easy to start populating the entire world with women who break the norm of what female characters are allowed to do in cinema.
As well as that, we decided to rewrite the rules of cinematic grammar. If we were going to address gender and ask people to rethink their assumptions, then it seemed necessary to shoot and edit the film in a way that was also against the norm.

The manifesto is just what we need right now. Access to filmmaking has never been easier, but it would be a mistake to take this and to continue the same style that has been followed for the last 100 years. What we need now is an underground that puts freshness, spontaneity, and difference at the centre of what it does.
I've just released a new short film, Look at Me Now, which explores the themes and styles that I started pursuing in Benny Loves Killing, and I'm now writing more scripts for other clients and working on a sci-fi series called Enter Lacuna.