‘Circle of Truth’ dir. David Allain

This comedy short follows Gen at a ridiculous work away day where everyone sitting in the ‘circle of truth’ is asked to reveal something about themselves that no one else knows. Will Gen disclose that she’s recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or stick with her far more entertaining anecdote of bumping into Kim Kardashian in a lift?

Director: David Allain
Writer: Matt Edmonds
Producer: Jess Gormley
DOP: Marcus Domleo
Executive Producers: Rankin, George Pepper & Feddie Yauner
Key Cast: April Pearson, Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas, Nathan McMullen, Lauren Socha, Simon Day, Justin Edwards and Nicholas Burns

C8: How did ‘Circle of Truth’ come about and at what stage did you become involved with production?

JG: Shift.ms, a charity and social network for people with Multiple Sclerosis approached me to see if I would produce two films for them, having seen some of the other charity films I’d made. We decided it would be best to do the two productions through Rankin Film Productions, as I have produced several low budget films at RFP and we have a great network of highly talented crew to work with, not least director David Allain also from RFP, who directed both films.

‘Circle of Truth’ was the first film to be developed. We had a meeting at Shift where three people who had MS talked us through their personal experiences of MS in the workplace. Comedy writer, Matt Edmonds then created a script based around ideas generated from this discussion.

C8: The film features a high-profile cast of April Pearson, Lauren Socha, Nathan McMullen, Ashley ‘Bashy’ Thomas, Simon Day, Justin Edwards and Nicholas Burns. What is the most difficult part putting an ensemble together?

JG: Due to the budget and our tight timetable we didn’t have a chance to do any castings so you have to look at examples of actor’s performances in other films or TV programmes and decide who will work well together. As this is a comedy film it was really important to make sure that the people we cast could get the humour of the script and play off each other’s performances despite only meeting each other on the day of the shoot.

C8: ‘Circle of Truth’ was shot directly after another charity film for Shift.ms called ‘Working It Out’. What challenges did this present?

JG: In many ways it was easier to have the films shoot one after the other, as we had the same crew across both projects and the same lead character in both films. However, it did mean that before the shoot we were casting a long list of characters!

C8: What had you done in your career up until this point?

JG: I have produced lots of very different projects from a charity opera film with homeless participants to a four part factual series for Sky Arts.  I’ve worked on three-minute films with tiny budgets to bigger feature films with a large cast and crew. The first film I ever worked on was the BAFTA nominated doc feature, ‘The Arbor’ and the most recent feature I’ve completed is called ‘Radiator’, directed by first time director – Tom Browne, which we are just starting to submit to international film festivals. I really enjoy that my job is very varied and that each project I work on has different challenges and rewards but mostly I enjoy the collaboration with lots of different creatives.

C8: For those unaware, how involved are producers in the creative process of a film?

JG: Each project is different and there are many different types of producers but I particularly like the development part of a project, when you are working with a writer or a director, forming the shape of an idea and then slowly starting to build all of the different elements of it from casting to locations.  I think it’s important that a producer invests in the creative process as that is what will ensure that they will fight hard to pull it all together further along the production line.

C8: What are the biggest misconceptions about being a film producer?

JG: I think people always picture film producers as the one stuck in an office managing budgets when all of the projects I’ve been on I’ve had to muck in on every level.  This has included carrying large bits of heavy equipment across locations to driving a van filled with crew across the country. It’s probably less like that on the Hollywood blockbusters but on smaller projects, the producer has to do everything to ensure that the cast and crew are happy and working efficiently, which means really getting involved!

C8: Walk us through a day in the life of a producer on set. Do you have time to sit and watch the action unfold?

JG: Sadly I wish I had more time to watch the action unfold, though a Producer usually has to make sure that everything is going well behind the scenes as well and always be preparing for the next thing.  I think it’s really important that a Producer tries to be present on set so that they can get a sense for how the cast and crew are working together, judge the general atmosphere of the shoot and generally be present for people to report back to but it can be a difficult juggling act of time on your laptop and also talking to people. I’m usually the first one on set, making sure that everything is in place for the day ahead and then one of the last to leave.  I’ll predominantly be in the production office preparing for the next day and making sure that the budget is always being updated, whilst also taking the time to circulate around the crew and cast throughout the day.

C8: Do you feel that Producers get enough respect in the film industry that is star-driven?

JG: There’s always much more press coverage given to the cast and the creative on a project.  People rarely remember the producer on a film but they know who directed it and who starred in it.  However that said, people within the industry know that it’s the producers that generally control the life of a film, from financing to distribution so in that way they hold a lot of power.

C8: Your career started with arts. How has this informed your approach to narrative and documentary filmmaking?

JG: I’ve always been interested in projects that have a heart and something to say that engages in the world, which I guess comes from my background in the arts.  I like films that think about form as well as content and try to bring together different mediums (like opera and film, or theatre and film).  I’ve also always loved the conversation between the arts and regularly go see dance, theatre and live music. I think there’s so much you can bring to your field with an understanding of all of these different disciplines.

C8: What advice would you give to emerging or first-time Producers looking to break into the film industry?

JG: Get involved with everything at whatever level as you can only learn by taking part and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

C8: What, in your opinion, is the essence of a good collaboration?

JG: Shared values.  You have to share and respect the vision and ambitions of your collaborators.  Then you can move forward together and have faith in their contribution.

C8: What is next for Jess Gormley? Any plans for the future?

JG: I’m currently submitting ‘Radiator’, the feature film I was Associate Producer on, to various international film festivals so I hope that will be screening to audiences soon.  Also a four part series I produced for Sky Arts called ‘Rankin Presents: Collabor8te’ will be airing this August and a documentary feature I was involved in called ‘Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime’ will be premiering at Sheffield Doc Fest this June.  I’m also pitching on lots of exciting new ideas this summer so watch this space!