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Emily on set for Black Box
Apocalytpic B&Bs and sea-side singalongs
by Chris Osborne
Emily Blickem is one of many Cantabrigians who you may spot on its famous streets with a film crew and a serious creative look. She tells us about her first horror-slasher movie in France and her award winning musical.
The Cambridge Film Festival may come once a year, showcasing the best talent the world has to offer. But did you know there's a plethora of talented filmmakers who are using our very doorsteps as sets and storylines?
Emily Blickem is a US-born Cambridge based filmmaker and she heads up the Cambridge Film Network, a kind of easy going collection of local talent who share their skills and knowledge.
Emily on set on Regent Street
Now an award winner for her musical-short One Little Step, Emily's beginnings in film are relatively gruesome.
"I went and did a slasher-horror flick in France, someone asked me to go and help out and I thought, "well, it's a week in France and it's finally a chance on a film" so I went and did that."
"It was a great experience. The film wasn't good. They tried to do it as properly as they could but it was a tiny, tiny crew with me doing things like going to the French supermarket and asking for intestines and kidneys and things like that."
While Emily looks to film in and around Cambridge, One Little Step has seen her use the sea-side East Anglian town of Great Yarmouth as a setting for her musical-romance story.
Having seen its share of depression in recent years, the glossy lights and sea-front amusements are a thinly veiled veneer coating real problems on the Norfolk coast.
One Little Step
"Originally my film was supposed to show the contrast between how grim Great Yarmouth can be, but the enchantment you can find there too. But as I went to the place a bit more and talked to more people, I couldn't show the grim side of it."
"There's just so many bad things going on there but it used to be this grand, lovely, wonderful place with these really beautiful buildings and it's just such a shame that it's gone."
Musicals aren't exactly in vogue at the moment, which makes a short-musical movie an even rarer treat and a brave pursuit. Yet Emily was always keen to see her idea played out in front of the cameras.
"I had just watched a couple of musicals again and then it just stuck in my head."
"The story kind of developed in the classic low-budget filmmaker kind of way of finding locations and writing around it, I was just lucky that all the locations I really loved were happy to let me film there."
Did I mention that Emily is an award winner? Yes? Oh, well, anyway, here's award winning director Emily Blickem on her awards that she has been awarded.
"It won at Curzon, they had a dance film festival. Then the Stamford Film Festival where it won the Audience Choice Award which is a really nice award to get because the audience have chosen it."
Looking on during filming
While the sea-side-singalong may have been nudged out of the judges thoughts at Stamford, Emily is delighted by the feedback of the audiences - who really are the people that matter.
"The lead actress' sister - who is obviously a bit biased - was like, "I want to watch it every morning, it just makes me feel so good!" And you can't really buy press like that, you just have to send her out to every screening."
One Little Step is sandwiched between two Cambridge films, the earlier being an environmentally themed short called Black Box. Supported by Cambridge City Council who were keen to attach themselves to the green message, it follows the journey your recycling bin takes every time it's nicked.
"I lived on Thoday Street and it's a kind of interesting street with interesting neighbours and your black box always gets stolen and it's very boring and tedious. I think I was just sitting on the doorstep and thought about it travelling around different houses."
"It was very Cambridge, shot all in Cambridge on Cambridge streets and in very Cambridgey houses."
The most recent movie has finished filming since I spoke to Emily - it's an interesting little story of end of the world hotel accommodation and sees Emily step aside from her usual directing duties.
"It's called The Last Bed and Breakfast and it's written and directed by Carl Homer who is another member of the Cambridge Film Network. I keep calling it a post-apocalyptic Hansel and Gretel."
"There's lots of dead burnt bodies and what we're calling zombies but they're not really zombies, they've just been blown up in the nuclear blast."
"It's basically about the last building that's standing in London in the future after nuclear bombs have gone off. Because everything's so completely blown up we could actually shoot a lot of it on the Dickinson's site just outside of Cambridge."
"We shot the exterior at one of the language schools on Station Road and even though it's connected to another house we'll be using a bit of CGI work."
Hopefully a bit of computer assistance will mean Emily will no longer have to persuade French butchers to part with their animal organs.
For the latest info on local screenings throughout the city or to learn more about the Cambridge Film Network use the links below.
last updated: 11/02/2008 at 15:48
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