‘I Stood Up’ dir. Lucy Tcherniak & James Willis

Year: 2006
Country: UK
Writer-Director: Lucy Tcherniak & James Willis
Producers: Lucy Tcherniak & James Willis
Cinematographer: Zak Halberd
Key Cast: Simon Tcherniak

10 Questions for Lucy and James, directors of ‘I Stood Up’ 

CB: ‘I Stood Up’ was made as part of a 48 Hour film challenge. What was the most difficult part about making the film?

LT: Well naturally the time constraints of writing, shooting, cutting and delivering a film in 48 hours with zero budget are challenging in itself. We also only had about 6 or 7 hours available in the location so the whole shoot was pretty tight!

CB: If you had more time what would you have done differently?

LT: Its funny, my first instinct is to say record the voiceover technically better. But in fact we did have a sound session at a later date in a proper ADR studio and when we replaced it in the mix it just didn’t quite fit. It sounded too clean so we kept the original. If we’d had more time I probably would’ve made a bit more of it and made it a bit longer. It’s so brief! But a part of me knows its brevity is what makes it work. It is a little rough round the edges in places, but I feel quite sentimental about this film because of what it meant to us all at that point in our careers, so if I’m honest I’ve grown fond of it just how it is. Its odd – I’ll usually have a great long list of things I’d change in retrospect when asked this question about other films, but this one is different somehow.

CB: Working with large budgets and time can sometimes producer better films but this is not always the case. Do you think there is something to be said about the creativity of working within the constraints of the 48 Hour Film Challenge?

LT: Definitely. It doesn’t feel like that at the time - all you want is more time and money, but looking back on I’m a lot happier with I Stood Up than other films I’ve spent much longer on with much bigger budgets. I remember the whole weekend as what seemed like a single surge of adrenaline - and that feeling can certainly fire you up creatively.

CB: It feels as though the film is in direct conversation with the July 7th bombings in London in 2005. Was this intentional on your part?

JW: Although the film feels that it has a direct conversation with the 7/7 bombings this was never our intention. At the time we were obsessed with the idea of the sliding doors theory and the possibility of chance. With the short turn around in mind we thought the best approach would be to let the location dictate our narrative, we were looking into a number of locations and then train carriages at Village Underground come through. So we applied our obsession with the sliding doors theory and the competition theme, which was Luck and created and come up with I Stood Up.  I was a reel team effort we brainstormed the night before with the cast, penned down the idea and shot the next morning.

LT: We knew because it not was only just over a year since the bombings that the subject matter would allude to the 7/7 but we wanted to keep it ambiguous. When we were given subject word ‘luck’, we knew we wanted to focus on the chaos theory angle, and then we started discussing the concept of survivor’s guilt. So when these two themes were molded together with the tube location that we had to hand, it all seemed to fit. I think at the time our themes and character were our main focus rather than the historical context, but it’s interesting that so many people interpret it like that. And I’m pleased that they do.

CB: The film makes some interesting sound choices in terms of the background music. Can you talk a little bit about the purpose behind this?

LT: Christian Howes miraculously composed the score and did the sound design, along with Andy Stallabrass in a matter of a few hours. The purpose of all the sound was to make the audience feel like they were in our protagonist’s head, and to accentuate his sense of panic and paranoia.

CB: ‘I Stood Up’ is very cleverly shot. How did you manage to shoot the scenes that take place on the tube?

JW: Lucy gets credit for this one; she managed to convince the lovely chaps at Village Underground in Shoreditch to lend us a spare train carriage for the day. These carriages are derelict and have now been converted into office spaces.

LT: Yeah the train was static. Our actors and wonderful DP Zac Halberd managed to mimic the movement of a moving tube pretty well though. This was also aided with by a clever little lighting trick. We were really lucky with the light that day, so our gaffer was standing outside the tube carriage with just a mirror that he continuously tilted left to right, bouncing the light across the frame horizontally, which created this feeling the tube is on the move.

CB: The lead actor, Simon Tcherniak, gives a very strong performance. Did you provide any advice prior to filming?

LT: Simon came with us to the brainstorming session on the Friday night so he was present through the whole creative process. This was great because he was there dreaming up this character with us, so when it came to the next day and with so little time on set Simon’s head was in exactly the right place. I do love working with my brother..it’s so easy - I know I’m biased, but he is kinda great.

CB: What advice would you give to new filmmakers wishing to create a short film?

JW: The advice I would give to any new filmmakers starting out is to not over think your production, believe in your ideas, pick-up the camera and get filming. Your first film will never be your best, but by having that confidence to step up and create something you start to learn from your mistakes, and improve the more you shoot. Also don’t neglect the sound, sound is 50% of the film and is just as important as the visual. We see so many films by young directors that look beautiful but are really let down by the sound design.

CB: ‘I Stood Up’ was made a few years ago. What have you done since?

JW: Winning the Smoke and Mirrors 48hr film competition with I Stood Up acted as a great platform for both myself and Lucy to propel us into the professional film industry and peruse our goals. Since 2008 we’ve collaborated on another short film Dominic, which was produced by Partizan Films. In the last three year I’ve set up Production Company called Bullion Productions with four other Director’s and Producers, the Bullion project is blossoming into something great.

LT: Since I Stood Up and Dominic, I’ve been signed by Red Lion Films so have been directing promos and online commercials. I’ve also directed two further shorts – the first was The Truth About Stanley that you featured as film of the week a couple of weeks back, and the second is Lay Me Down, which is currently in post.

CB: What does the future hold for you?

LT: I’m currently writing and developing my first feature ‘Jesus and the Jetpack’, which if all goes to plan should shoot in 2014. But I’ve also got a few smaller projects in the pipeline.