They say Cannes “stays in your blood” and it’s true! Three weeks later, here’s the final interview from my trip. I wanted to finish my interview tour of the movie business with a real blue collar film festival so I sat down for a drink with Rachel Richardson-Jones, aka “Lady Grimm”; a film producer and director of the Grimm Up North International Film Festival of Horror and Cult Films.
How long has your festival been running and how did it get started?
Grimm is now in its fourth year and was born out of shameless self promotion for our first feature “Splintered”. Sadly our executive producer Clive Parsons, a veteran British film producer who made such classics as Scum and Gregory’s Girl and I might add was a true gentleman, passed away shortly after completion, leaving us without a clue of how to get distribution in our own territory. So we decided to put on a little showcase of three movies over one day in our home town of Manchester and call it Grimm up North. After a successful week in London I managed to not only acquire distribution for Splintered, but also a number of movies to screen from various distributors and Grimm Up North turned out to be three crazy days of 28 movies, twelve of which were premiers, not to mention a plague of Cenobites. Although we vowed “never again” the day after the festival, there did seem to be a lot of love for it and we’ve been growing steadily each year.
What brings you to Cannes?
This was an extremely exciting year for us, as it was Grimm Up North’s first year as a buyer at Cannes, we were looking for films to screen at the festival in October. In addition to this we have also raised the bar with our brand new distribution label Grimm Entertainment. We have partnered with Koch media in the UK and have already acquired rights to several films which we are releasing in Early October 2012. We are to release a minimum of eight movies in our first year so we were looking for movies that would play well at the festival and also have UK rights available for distribution.
So what’s the ultimate goal with the festival? Do you plan on growing into a market or another Sundance?
It would be an interesting idea to grow Grimm to the stage whereby, if you produce, write, sell, buy, promote or just love to watch genre material, people can come to Manchester to do just that and get to cuddle lots of lovely northern folk, as we are very friendly in the North.
What kind of films do you like personally?
Wow my taste is so diverse, I do have a penchant for Sci-Fi, but also love to watch films from all over the world, I love films with a great story, so for me it can be any genre from ‘The Lives of Others’ to ‘Martyrs’ to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’.
How many submissions do you normally get and how do you go through them all?
This year we had over 100 submissions. We have a dedicated team of volunteers who help us view material. But essentially it comes down to Myself, Simeon Halligan who is co-director of the festival and Steve Balshaw our film programmer and founding member of Grimm who make the decisions, and if we can’t all agree on a film it doesn’t go in the festival.
A lot of people say the festival process is inherently political, what are your thoughts on that and do you have advice for filmmakers?
This is a very good point, running our own festival has really given us a great insight as filmmakers of how important it is to make sure either the producer or sales agent make a big noise about a film. It is essential to get it into the press and give your movie as much profile as possible. There are so many films to watch you end up being drawn to the ones listed in the trades and there starts the merry go round, with all the usual suspects being shown in all the various festivals. Whilst we at Grimm do like to have a number of festival circuit films we have seen at the markets, we do get quite excited by the submissions we get to the festival. Steve Balshaw was a big advocate of the Soska sisters’ submission ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’ it got great coverage at Grimm and really helped to build a following for them in the UK. Similarly we hope to do the same with Ryan Levin’s ‘Some Guy Who Kills People’ which screened really well at last year’s festival and that we will be releasing later on in the year under the Grimm label.
Did you have a “Cannes moment”?
Meeting Zack Coffman at the Estonian Drinks Party and scoffing all their chocolate which we just couldn’t get enough of!
Well, there you have it. I’ve finally worked Cannes out of my system.