‘The Ride’ dir. Marion Pilowsky

A student happily accepts a ride back to university unaware it will change his life forever

Year: 2011
Country: UK
Director: Marion Pilowsky
Writer: Marion Pilowsky
Producer: Rosie Newall
Key Cast:  Anthony LaPaglia, Ed Speleers, Emer Kenny  

C8: We really enjoyed ‘The Ride’ – can you tell us a little bit about where the idea came from and how you developed it?

MP: Thank you very much! It’s a very strange story really. Unbeknownst to me my father had written it under a pseudonym in 1961 when he was in South Africa. Some 30 plus years later he gave it to me to read and I loved it. I wanted to develop it and asked him how I could get in touch with the writer who he said he knew. That’s when all was revealed.  I wanted to tell the story in a modern setting because I felt what the student goes through could happen in any time period. Once I was happy with the script I approached crew, found a fantastic Dorset producer in Rosie Barrett and pushed the button thinking I would be paying for it myself. In the end, the BBC came on board 3 days before we went down to Dorset which was amazing for all of us.

C8: What were the biggest challenges in production? 

MP: Dorset in the freezing cold, fog, rain and mud. No toilet, hot drinks or unit base, except an old minivan, 3 days to film including travel down from London…in said old minivan.  The usual short film stuff I guess but good times!!

C8: At what stage did Anthony LaPaglia come on board and what was it like to work with him?

MP: I knew Anthony because we come from the same town in Australia, Adelaide. He was in Sydney and was coming to London and wanted to meet up but I told him I couldn’t because I would be in Dorset making my first short film. He asked to read the script and called the next day and said that if I hadn’t cast the role of the driver he wanted it. Suffice to say, I was beyond thrilled. He was an absolute treat to work with. He just nailed it. Anthony gives great sinister! He and Ed had never met before which I think added to their perfect chemistry.

C8: Where did ‘The  Ride’ sit in your career, what had you done before it?

MP: ‘The Ride’ was my first short film. The first thing I have written as well. Before that I did a bunch of things in our industry; acquisitions, production, sales, distribution.  I had always wanted to write and direct and as soon as we did the very first set-up, in the pouring rain, I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be.

C8: How has the film been received on the festival circuit and how hard have you worked to promote it?

MP: The film had its world premiere at Tribeca which was totally dreamy.  That festival rocks. They are just so much into the filmmakers… not only the festival but the entire city. New Yorkers LOVE Anthony LaPaglia and he was so generous, coming to the screenings and meeting the audience with me. After that it went to London, Atlanta, Iraq, St Johns and a few others. Truth be told, if you get your film into one of the ‘big’ festivals like Tribeca or London, it becomes much easier to promote. I emailed every local New York and Connecticut paper with a little blurb about the film in the hope that it might get reviewed a couple of times which actually did pay off. (Good stills are so important!!!)  Tribeca also does a huge amount of publicity for their short film programme so I jumped on the coat tails of their machine and tried to support and leverage that as much as I could. After Tribeca, Shorts International (Simon Young) picked it up and so I left it to them to do what they do best. They also picked up my second and third short films and represent another one that I produced so we have a very solid relationship. They are a great company doing the hard yards to make sure that short films have value around the world.

C8: What advice would you give to those filmmakers just starting out and trying to crack into the industry?

MP: Just make the damn thing. Don’t wait. There are so many passionate people out there and where there is a will, there is a way.

C8: What is the essence of a great collaboration?

MP: For me it’s a combination of fun, laughter, optimism and a dogged mentality to not stop until you get to the finish line. Also I think you have to find people who really do love film in that obsessive way most of us do.

C8: What’s next on the horizon for Marion Pilowsky?

MP: I’m co-writing and directing a rom-com thriller called ‘The Wedding Job’. It’s set in South Australia. Cinema Management Group (Ed Noeltner) is the sales agent and I hope it will go into production later this year. My longtime creative collaborator, David Willing, has just moved to LA and is writing his feature debut, a black comedy that I hope to produce. Lastly, with support from Screen Australia, I’m developing ‘Marauder’, a cracker of a true crime mystery set in Melbourne between 1982 and 2002 and written by Lee Sellars.