One thing I have found from featuring amazing people and projects in At a Glance is that they are always surrounded by other amazing people and projects. I have been fortunate at times to be able to chain reaction, if you will, talent into multiple connected Features. These connections provide an expanded view of previous Features and opens up conversations in other directions as well.
Previously I published a Feature on musician Chris Hyson, and then followed with a Feature update announcing the filming of a music video being produced for one of Chris’ compositions. In the update it was noted that along with actor Alexander Vlahos, the video would be directed by Geoffrey Breton. From my research, it was evident that Geoffrey is a major up and comer in the film industry, working as Associate Director at Wolfheart Productions, who just happens to be producers of Chris‘s music video. I jumped at the chance to be able to find out more about Geoffrey’s work, so after contacting him to see if he would be willing to chat with us, he luckily managed to clear a little time away and gives us a glimpse into his world.
Hey Geoffrey! Thanks for the opportunity to visit with us! Please acquaint us with a little overview of your current job/profession…you are listed as an Associate Director at Wolfheart Productions Ltd…what does that entail?
Alexander Wolpert founded Wolfheart Productions in late 2011. I initially came on board to help organize some development workshops for a project that later became In Absence. Keen to further my directing career on top of my established work as an actor, I then directed the final film. We have since made two other shorts, shooting another next week, have three other projects in development and I now run Wolfheart with Alex day to day.
Alexander Wolpert and I met at Drama Centre London where we trained together as actors. We feel working as actors for six years before expanding into producing, writing and directing has given us a brilliant foundation in development, first hand ability and experience and great instincts of what makes a project work successfully. Next for me as actor: I’m in OVERRIDE at Watford Palace Theatre, very exciting new play.
Tell us a little about yourself: Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Hobbies and favorite pastimes?
I was born in Kingston-upon-Thames but moved to Stockport in South Manchester when I was 7, so did most of my growing up there. My Father is French and my Mother, Italian Scottish, so I’ve never really felt like I’ve known where I’ve come from. I once visited a close friend (Gethin Anthony – Lord Renley in Game of Thrones) in Kingston Hospital; he’s from near there too. I felt going into the hospital (for the first time since being born there), was very strange. Like going back to the portal I’d been spawned from.
I grew up doing a lot of ice skating (2nd in Britain Junior level in 2000) and quite a bit of climbing on holidays in the French Alps. But mostly my childhood was spent lying on the sofa watching films. I’d spend the whole weekend from 9 in the morning till bedtime Saturday and Sunday watching films. I started being in plays from 12 years old and decided to go to drama school at 18 and learn to act. Actors become directors, it doesn’t really work the other way round.
We’re very interested in how you achieved all that you do! Would love to hear how it came about! Were you always interested in acting/theater/film/production? How did you get your start? What education/training have you undergone and what aspect do you think benefited you the most, if any?
I always wanted to direct. And some days as a teenager I would wake up wanting to direct more than act. I auditioned for the directing course at Drama Centre London as well, and was told I was welcome to a place on it too but they thought better to train me as an actor. The directors I grew up loving; Mike Leigh, Max Stafford-Clarke, had trained as actors, and become directors/developers from that background. They knew what great acting was, and how to talk to actors and how to use improvisation in the correct way to build script. I knew I wanted to be that kind of director.
In Al Pacino‘s biography he cites a time, when he was a young actor of 28/29, appearing in his third or fourth movie and they were shooting the end scene of the film. He suggested that the ending of the film needed changing. Al had a better idea, and the writer and director went with it. But the director queried how Al could feel it was his place, as the actor, to say this. Pacino said Hey I think I’ve learnt something about scripts having been reading them for ten years.
This is how Alex and I felt. Movies being made by people who know how they should be made best.
What is an average routine day like for work or is there such a thing!?
It depends if I’m away acting somewhere, travelling to somewhere to act, or in the Wolfheart office in Shoreditch slaving away at a mountain of admin and emails with Alex. It’s great juggling so many projects at once. Sometimes we will be on a shoot, sometimes in a PR meeting, sometimes slaving over a script with a writer. But there’s always a lot of coffee. I’m very active too with gym, running, roller derby, climbing and I also do ballet once a week. More men should do ballet. It’s great for strength, posture, breath. Anyone who thinks it isn’t manly should Google Carlos Acosta right now.
Are there things that you’d like to accomplish to move you further in this career? (training, education, level up in position/job/role)
I’d like to be married with three children, and spend my time with them travelling the world, in-between shooting films that we have developed with writers and being in films directing by other exciting young directors and producers. I want to continue being in plays all my life. Anyone who says they don’t want to win a Bafta or an Oscar is lying. I also really want a motor bike and more tattoos.
We want to shoot a Feature film next. We have several excellent films in development. We want to develop and produce internationally successful Feature films and help bring British Film back to the fore-ground.
What is your most favorite thing about what you do…and the worst?
Any kind of job in any kind of art form is basically about saying how you think something should be, or be seen, or be made. It’s immensely pleasurable to say how you think something should be and for others to tell you how much your decisions pleased them. As a director, it is basically your job to get the film shot/acted/made the way you want it at the exact same time as giving everyone else collaborating and working in the film room to feel fully involved creatively. The job is basically one big compromise, allowing everyone involved to do it their way as well as your way and finding a path forward together. The director, in my opinion is not the leader, but the linchpin. The 1st AD (assistant director) and the DOP (director of photography/cinematographer) are the leaders. If you don’t have them onside you have nothing, even if you have all the money in Hollywood. Actually, wait, the weather is your leader. The weather is in charge. That’s who you have to obey… Or rewrite the scene so it takes place indoors.
Who have been your influences/role models, professionally and personally?
Wow, where to start. Terry Gilliam was a big influence growing up as well as Spielberg and Kubrick. Now it’s Martin McDonagh, Chris Nolan, Simon McBurney. Simon runs Complicite, the theatre company. As well as being a movie star, the man creates internationally heralded theatre, as well as writing, directing and acting in film and television. He is uncompromising and there’s no one like him.
Any advice to share for someone starting in this field?
Don’t compromise, either you’re in charge or they are. Don’t take any notice of what others are doing around you. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t judge yourself. Get up at 6am every day. Keep trying. Learn from everything. Work out what you want to make and make it somehow.
Who was your favorite character/role played to date, either on stage or film? Why?
I’m about to play a character called Mark in OVERRIDE, and now I’m a late-twenties man thinking about perhaps getting married in the next five years and thinking vaguely about having children, I’m excited to play a man in his late twenties who is about to have a child. It’s very emotional and it’s a two hander. I’m working with Matti Houghton who I have always been a big fan of and the director is Selina Cartmel who I’ve wanted to work with since she directed Macbeth at Smock Alley in Dublin about 5 years ago.
Do you see yourself staying in this area or are there other avenues you would be interested in pursuing?
I’d like to open a restaurant one day. I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else, other than developing directing and acting. They say it’s best to not have a backup plan as it makes you put everything into everything. Cos you have no other choice.
I recently did an interview with Chris Hyson discussing his debut album Little Moon Man, and understand you are involved in a production based on his composition, Button Eyes. Anything you can share about this project?
Alex Vlahos of Merlin fame and I have been buddies for a few years and he suggested we shoot a music video for one of Chris‘s tracks on Little Moon Man. We listened to a few of the tunes and we loved Button Eyes. Alex suggested we shoot in Whitstable, cos it’s so beautiful and we started developing a story around him being in Whitstable, driven by the moods of the music. As there is no singing in the track, and we knew there would be no dialogue, the music video became more of a short silent film. I drafted a 1 page screenplay and we started planning the shoot. We decided to hold a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign so that we could shoot the film on an Arri Alexa and we wanted the film to be an opportunity for Alex‘s fan-base to get involved. We are shooting next week and can’t wait to get it in the edit and start mixing it to Chris‘s gorgeous music.
Any other upcoming projects/events you can share?
We have our last short, Corvidae, in the can, shot with Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones, and are about to launch a crowd-funding campaign with Indigogo and Cat and Weasel Productions, to finish the post production. What we have shot is so superb that we decided to go even further on the previously planned VFX, which of course means increasing the budget. We will be launching the campaign from 27th August, and have just previewed the poster. Plus we have launched screen shots and concept artwork from the film every day until 27th, when the Indigogo launch page will go live. Fans of Maisie Williams will be able to support the film and get involved like we had on the Button Eyes campaign.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us to know!
Apart from the ice skating? I have my Father’s signature tattooed on my rib. My right foot is smaller than my left. I ran the London marathon in 4 hrs 10 minutes. I was going to be called Natalie if I’d been a girl.
Awesome! Well, this has certainly been a great chat! Before we close, I was reminded that you have another small project premiering this weekend, again in conjunction with Alex Vlahos! Big Finish‘s audio drama series, The Confessions of Dorian Gray – Series 2 finale, Running Away with You. I’ll be receiving my download with my subscription and can’t wait to check it out!
We’ll all be anxious to see the completion of Button Eyes music video as well as keeping up with Corvidae and the Indigogo campaign, so hope to keep in touch for future updates! Till then, everyone can stay on top of other happenings with you on your Twitter and the Wolfheart Productions website! Thanks again for everything, and now for a little bit more fun, as always our…
Fast Five – Questions for Fun!!
Favorite food indulgence? Foie gras. It’s not very nice to geese. I love sour cream dip with lightly salted Doritos.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Smoking.
What shows do you Tivo/DVR? Erm… I should really know what those are shouldn’t I? What are they?
Favorite downtime activity? Playing guitar. Cooking. (Drinking good wine).
Define happiness in one word? Gratitude.