Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin

Over the last 15 years Francesca Rudkin has been working in the media as a film and music reviewer (NZ Herald, Breakfast TV), a television presenter and producer, and voice over artist. Recently, Francesca joined Rialto Channel as their resident blogger, allowing her to indulge in her love of world cinema. Her next challenge is to convince her young children that being a “Cinephile” is a legitimate profession.

Film Guide

View: August | September

Go

View: By Title | Advanced search

Go


Francesca's Blog

25 Latest News Articles
Posted on Friday 5/12/2014 December, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Sunday is the directorial feature film from New Zealand filmmaker and digital producer Michelle Joy Lloyd. A romantic drama telling the story of an estranged couple who reunite for 24 hours to see if they can sort out their relationship, Sunday is set in Christchurch one year after the devastating earthquakes.

New Zealand born, Australian based actress Camille Keenan and Aussie Dustin Clare, who co-wrote the screenplay, star in what is a naturalistic and honest portrayal of a couple at a turning point. An independent and fully self-funded film, Michelle Joy Lloyd and her team decided to release the film across different mediums at the same time - television, DVD, cinema, online and on airlines. It’s a first for a feature film, and I recently caught up with Michelle, who explained the reasoning behind the approach. 

Sunday is the directorial feature film from New Zealand filmmaker and digital producer Michelle Joy Lloyd. A romantic drama telling the story of an estranged couple who reunite for 24 hours to see if they can sort out their relationship, Sunday is set in Christchurch one year after the devastating earthquakes.

New Zealand born, Australian based actress Camille Keenan and Aussie Dustin Clare, who co-wrote the screenplay, star in what is a naturalistic and honest portrayal of a couple at a turning point. An independent and fully self-funded film, Michelle Joy Lloyd and her team decided to release the film across different mediums at the same time - television, DVD, cinema, online and on airlines. It’s a first for a feature film, and I recently caught up with Michelle, who explained the reasoning behind the approach. 

RC: Why did you decide to release the film this way? 

MJL: From an early stage Dustin and I decided we wanted to distribute it within New Zealand. We’ve done a lot of reading over the last few years, and talking to people and one of the biggest issues we saw facing our industry was piracy. There are a lot of conversations going on about it, but a lot of these conversations come back down to control and they were quite negative and pointing the finger at the pirate. I’m not condoning or saying piracy is a good thing in any way shape or form, but I think there’s a reason people pirate. We wanted to be part of that conversation in terms of recognising the world is changing and we need to change with it as an industry, so how do we do that? We wanted to contribute to that conversation in a more positive way; not in a control kind of way, but more in a trust kind of way. We’ll give you what you want. We’ll give you the option to watch it when you want to watch it, on whatever screen you want to watch it, on whatever day you want to watch it, and you decide if you want to pay for it.

There are going to be some people who aren’t obviously going to pay for it, a lot of people pirate because they believe it’s their right, and that’s not who we are talking to. We’re talking to people I like to call “old enough to know better and young enough to know how”. Guilty pirates if you like, people who want to watch content, especially when it comes to foreign content or art house film, but they can’t get their hands on it. So we’re giving people an option and a way to get their hands on films in a way that can also support the filmmaker.

RC: Do you think we’ll be seeing more films being released in this manner? It seems like a massive undertaking, has it been easy to organise? 

MJL: No, it’s not easy, and we weren’t expecting it to be easy. I can’t comment on whether all films should be released in this way. What we’re doing is something that hasn’t been done to this extent before and in a way it’s about trying to be part of changing the conversation. It’s an experiment in a way, and we’re just as interested to find out what comes out of it as hopefully other people are. We’re going to be quite transparent with our results as well because we want other independent filmmakers to learn from our experiences. What to do? What not to do? What worked? What didn’t work? So they can take that learning and use it for their own film releases if they chose to release themselves.

RC: How have you managed to do all this, especially when you’re living in Melbourne?

MJL: I work part time, only three days a week as a digital producer. I’m living in Melbourne but Christchurch is my home city, which is why I wanted to go back and make something special there. A lot of what we’re doing is conversation. It’s conversations over the phone, conversations via email, so not being physically in the country is not actually holding us back a whole lot. We have people on the ground in New Zealand; we have a publicist and a few other people who are there in key cities.

RC: How did you fund the film, and this release?

MJL: The majority of it was self-funded, so it’s a truly independent film. In terms of the release, we decided to crowd fund for that because we felt we had the finished film ready to go and we really felt like we had something that people would want to watch and would support us on, and we felt we had an exciting idea to put out there in terms of the multi-platform release.



RC: And that was successful, were you happy with the response to the crowd funding?

MJL: Crowd funding is very difficult, is what I learnt. But we were very lucky to partner with Spark My Potential and they kick in a matching fund offer at about 30%. So when you hit 30% of your target they come in and start matching. And that was brilliant for us, that got us over the line I think.

RC: So crowd funding is trickier than you imagined, not all it’s jacked up to be?

MJL: People said it was tricky, everyone I’ve talked who had done it said that, but you don’t realise how hard it is until you do it. You’re putting yourself out there on the line, yourself personally, because you’re the person in the video asking people to give you money and money is a bit of an awkward subject anyway.

RC: It’s a perfectly formed film when it comes to budget, with a small cast, public locations and short timeframe etc. When you began talking to Dustin about the idea did you think, ‘yes, this is something we can do on a small budget because of the nature of the story?’

MJL: It was actually Dustin who came up with the idea on a sleepless night and Camille, his partner, was pregnant at the time and they approached myself and Ryan [Ryan Alexander Lloyd, Sunday’s DOP and Michelle’s husband] and said ‘hey, do you guys want to make this film?’ I don’t think we realised quite what a large undertaking it would be, so you jump into it thinking it’s great. We started writing together - myself, Dustin and Camille - and work-shopped the characters and script quite heavily, and we were like, ‘yeah, lets go and do this thing’. And then as we started getting into pre-production, that’s when we realised we’re going to have to put in a little bit more than we thought, and then a little bit more again. There are just costs that creep in around the sides that you don’t expect. So, we definitely put in more than perhaps we originally would have thought. It would be classified as an ultra low budget film, and we’re really happy with what we got.

Ryan pushed us, with lenses and camera choices and all that sort of stuff, but I’m so pleased he did because it’s really given it a professional edge. We did go away and shoot some 7D [footage] with a different cinematographer for some flashback scenes here in Melbourne. I think that worked in context of we’re flashing back to a different time, look and feel. I’d like to think it doesn’t look ultra low budget.



RC:
Did you enjoy the collaborative aspect of making this film?

MJL: Yes, absolutely, this film is what it is because of the heavy collaboration. It’s definitely been challenging at times. When you’ve got four passionate, creative people who all want the same thing, which is to make the best film possible, but with different ideas as to how to make that. We’ve challenged each other in so many ways, but I like to think that the way that we work together now is like a relationship… Everyone wants the same thing, it’s just about how you get there and I guess the communication side of it is really important and that’s definitely something we’ve grown lot over the course of the last couple of years.

RC: How was it having your writers also on set as your lead actors? Normally directors like to keep their screenwriters away from set.

MJL: It’s been that sort of project where the director’s a producer and the actors are producers and the actors are writers and the director’s a writer ... It’s been very non-traditional in that respect, but that’s what makes the film what it is.

RC: Would you work like that again?

MJL: I enjoy working very collaboratively, so definitely. It would be fair to say we’ve all learnt a lot from this experience. There are things you’d change next time for sure, but the collaboration side of it, I definitely want to work like that again.




RC:
The whole story rides on the performances from your two leading actors - they’re so relaxed and genuine. They’re partners in real life, do you thing that added to their portrayal of Eve and Charlie?

MJL: I can’t comment on that one. I don’t know. The thing about Dustin and Camille is that while it’s a very intimate performance, they were well and truly in character on set. They’re both very professional and that was something I was blown away by as well… But they’ve both had quite a bit of experience on set and working with various different directors, and Camille, for example, I’d give one direction and the whole thing would change.

RC: The film is set over a 24-hour period in Christchurch one year after the earthquake. The story of new beginnings and hope fits in nicely with Eve and Charlie’s story, but why did you decide to set the film there? It could have almost been done anywhere?

MJL: It could have been. I guess it’s the timing of everything. When we decided to make the film and came up with the concept of what we wanted to make, the second earthquake had happened earlier in the year. I’m a Cantabrian, and Ryan and I got married in Canterbury, and he lived there for quite a while and we both have a lot of family there, and we both felt very helpless. Aside from giving money there’s not really anything you can do from afar. By no means are we coming in and doing something by shooting a film there but we wanted to go back to Christchurch and make something special in the city. Because for me I saw it not just as a broken city, which was all the images we were getting on the news. When I went back and walked through the Botanical Gardens you wouldn’t know anything had happened, and you go to Taylors Mistake and some of those areas and it’s stunning and a beautiful city. I felt the full picture needed to be there, and that’s what we’ve tried to focus on within the film, as well as some of the exciting stuff I was seeing happening, with Gap Filler for example.

RC: You’ve got your hands full distributing Sunday, so I know it’s a bit early to ask, but would you like to direct again? 

MJL: I’d love to have the opportunity to direct again at some stage, but right now I’m so focused on getting this film out to the world that it’s hard to think about what the next project will be exactly, in terms of the detail of it. There was so much about it I enjoyed. I’m focused on finishing what we started because it’s very easy to start something and walk away and start something else, so I want to stay focused on finishing this.

Catch Sunday on Rialto Channel, Sunday 7th December at 7.00pm.

Learn more here.



Actions: E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) RSS comment feed | Bookmark and Share
There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Post Comment

Only registered users may post comments.


Sign Up To Francesca's Blog

First Name
Last Name
Email