James Fisher behind the lens
The joint offspring of the Romanian Film Institute and Bethnal Green's Four Corners centre, East Meets East gave young Londoners a chance to develop their filmmaking skills under the tutelage of established stars. A few weeks ago, Eye For Film spoke to Radu Muntean about his involvement in the project. Now we hear from James Fisher, the participant whose work so impressed the organisers that he was recommended for specialist training.
"I started off studying fine art a Chelsea University," James tells me. "I majored in media. Then I discovered photography and filmmaking and I graduated with a Film and Video Degree at London College of Communication. Since then I've done various film courses."
This led him to the East Meets East project, which he saw advertised just days before it started. "I always look out for local schemes involving local people," he explains. "I find that it's a great way to meet people to collaborate with." This time it involved exchanging ideas about scriptwriting at the initial meeting, going on to develop a script and then shooting two different short films.
"I try to focus on the directing of actors so this was a good fit for me because that's the Romanian way of filmmaking," he says. "They usually have a static camera and then they're very focused on the actors with the drama taking place throughout that scene. I was the DOP so I did the lighting as well as some of the camerawork."
Highlights were working with BAFTA winning actress Anamaria Marinca and director Radu, both of whom he feels he learned a lot from. He was thrilled to be invited to join a 3D filmmaking course usually only open to experienced professionals. "It's more of a science than an art because you're trying to replicate how the eyes work," he says of the technology involved. As a consequence, a much bigger team is needed, with a camera operater, assistant camera operater, stereographer and DOP - he's used to just working on his own with a single camera.
James getting a good look on set
Is he a particular fan of the horror genre?
"I've kind of fallen into it," he says. "I'm interested in all genres really. I've written a thriller that I'm hopefully going to make after this film, then a sort of drama, buddy comedy, crime film."
I mention what Radu told me about the Romanian system, which doesn't make anybody rich but gives filmmakers a lot of artstic control over their work.
"Radu mentioned that his films are passion projects," James says. "I find that myself. Most of my projects don't tend to get funded. They [the big funding bodies] are more focused on dramas and family friendly films. Radu said he's not doing this to get rich, just for passion and to make good films. He says you've just got to make the films you want to make, to follow your heart. I'm going to try and continue with that. The UK tends to have a lot of gritty kitchen sink dramas but there are ways to get other things, like horror films, funded. It was inspiring."