Jamie Benyon on The Grandisons by Sian Parker

The Grandisons

Following on from our recent post about Beth Bayes’ upcoming short film Sweet Like Poison, I am excited to present another interview with an independent filmmaker. A Film Club’s creator Sian reached out to Jamie Benyon about their current project to find out more…

My name is Jamie Benyon, and I’m the Writer/Director of an upcoming feature film called The Grandisons. I started my career as a Floor Runner on Independent British Gangster films and slowly worked my way up onto the big Hollywood productions. My credits include Johnny English 3 (2018), Wonder Woman (2017), Rogue One (2016), Doctor Strange (2016) and Free Fire (2016). I love filmmaking, I love cinema and, from the age of about 12, all I wanted to do was make films. And I did. And they were terrible. But I was bitten by this filmmaking bug and it really bit me hard. 

The Grandisons - Behind The Scenes

Wow, that’s an exciting bunch of films to have worked on! Before you began your career, did your love of film lead you into further education or working on personal projects on a larger scale?
I studied film at Southampton Solent University and since graduating I’ve been trying to immerse myself in cinema as much as possible. I made an attempt to make a no-budget feature straight out of university called ‘The Woman Who Came To Dinner’ and it was just awful. 

The idea was about a man setting himself up on a blind date, only to find out the woman sat opposite from him was actually his half-sister, and she had been obsessively searching for him. On paper it sounds like a good story but the execution was not. Fortunately, no one is ever going to see it! 

But the experience was so valuable because I got to learn how to control a budget, how to work with professional actors, and how to make a feature! It was the beginning of my film school! Although the final film was rather amateur, the process was exciting and exhilarating, and I’ll never regret it. I will always recommend someone doing it! 

However, as a filmmaker you constantly want to push yourself and try something different which led me to write The Grandisons

That is such a good lesson to take away from experiences that don’t go to plan; there is always something to learn from them. Tell us more about The Grandisons - what is it about?
The Grandisons is a family that rarely come together, but when they do, it usually descends into chaos. Set over the course of one summer's day, this bitter and abusive family collide, as their deepest, darkest secrets of adultery, blackmail, and violence erupt. The unity of the family solely depends on each member's moral compass, and how they choose to deal with the revelations. As the sun sets, only time will tell if the day has made or broken the Grandisons. 

I must apologise that’s probably the most pretentious premise description anyone could ever write! But it makes me sound intelligent and I like that! 

The Grandisons - Behind The Scenes

It doesn’t sound pretentious at all - I’m invested. I want to know more about these characters and what happens next! Where did the idea for The Grandisons come from?
The idea for the film came from just being around different people. In particular my own family, my ex-girlfriend’s family and my friend’s. All of these people have wonderfully strange characteristics that make great cinematic characters and I wanted to see them all interact, and ultimately fight each other. It’s kind of cliché but it’s true; write what you know, and that’s all I did. Every character, every line, every moment in the film was drawn from experiences I had, stories I heard, or my own imagination which makes this film incredibly personal to me. 

So, I wrote it. It took about a year to write, especially the structure of the script, because I knew I wanted multiple plot lines happening simultaneously, and for all these stories to weave in and out and explode at the climax. It was tough, and probably the hardest script I’ve ever had to write, but the most rewarding. Once the structure was set and the scenes flowed organically – everything else fell into place. 

Although a lot of the film’s narrative and plot is pulled from personal experiences, in terms of the visual and sound, where did you draw inspiration from? Were there any specific people or films that influenced the film?
During my time at University, I was introduced to a film called Punch-Drunk Love (2002) which completely blew my mind. It opened doors to the idea that films were pieces of art and that cinema could be as weird and as wonderful as you like. I was obsessed with this film, and its filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. If no one knows this film or this filmmaker, drop what you’re doing and go watch it, and study his films! 

Once the obsession with Punch-Drunk Love (2002) subsided, I then shifted onto Boogie Nights (1997). A film that has multiple characters, a pop driven soundtrack and fast, frantic camerawork – which I knew I wanted for The Grandisons. But the inspirations didn’t stop there because Boogie Nights was influenced by the works of Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman, and I wanted that feel to seep into my film too. I admit, we didn’t have the same budget as PTA, Scorsese or Altman, but the influences are there, and with the budget we had, we’ve done an amazing job. 

The Grandisons - Behind The Scenes

This sounds fascinating - I am interested to find out how the various building plot lines, upbeat soundtrack and exhilarating cinematography come together to bring the story to life! When will the film be released and where can we watch it? 
I’ve literally just finished the sound mix of my film. We were lucky enough to gain support from students at the National Film School so the film just needs a colour grade and we’re complete! 

Do I know when the film will be released and where? Unfortunately no. I’m taking each process as it comes but as soon as I know I will tell you!

It always fills me with joy to hear budding student filmmakers have the chance to work on such love-fuelled projects - I can’t wait to know when it will be released. Whilst we all eagerly await a release date, where can we find more about the film in the meantime?

You can find The Grandisons on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! You can find myself also on these platforms so please come by and say hello! 

I’m more than happy to give constant encouragement, motivation, or advice if readers want to talk! Or, if they love discussing cinema so do I! You can see The Grandisons Official Trailer through this link too.

The Grandisons' Cast and Crew

And lastly is there anything you would love to say to people embarking on their own filmmaking journeys?
Another reason why I wanted to make this film was because I was fed up with being told ‘no’ all the time by industry people. I was frequently told that the script was ‘too ambitious for a no-budget feature’, ‘it had no stars’, ‘no one will like it’ - all the usual degrading stuff people say. So, if you excuse my French, this was my middle finger to all the doubters to demonstrate to them, myself and to others that making an ambitious, no-budget, personal feature was possible. 

I knew it would be tough, but I knew that if I could pull it off, then I could inspire other filmmakers to make their films too. People can like my film, dislike my film; it doesn’t matter to me. What I’m concerned about is that my film demonstrates that you can make your film. You can turn your screenplay into a reality – you just have to do it! So, don’t listen to whatever anyone says. Please don’t be disheartened when no-one believes in you –  sadly, they won’t. But the balls in your court to prove them wrong!

If anyone takes anything away from this interview it is to go out and scratch your creative itch! Do not listen to the no’s. Do not listen to the non-believers. Believe in yourself and just do it. If you turn to your left, and to your right, and find no one believing in you, then come back to this article and know that I do! Always push yourself for something different because great and unexpected results will happen. 

Thank you so much for your insight and words of encouragement, Jamie. We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about your exciting film, and wish you the absolute best of luck with it! You can keep up with Jamie on his personal Twitter right here.

3 Things to do before starting Film School by Sian Parker

The transition from A Level Study, college, or a year out to university or Film School is a daunting one. It is likely you are already thinking about the new people you will meet, where you will be living and, of course, how difficult your course will be. Unfortunately you can only prepare so much before diving in to the new experience, but there are some things you can do to lighten the load study-wise. These are...

If your course comes with a reading list, get reading now! Despite going in with the best intentions, it is extremely unlikely you will have the time, or energy, to get through the books once you have started your course.

With your schedule being jam packed with filmmaking, essay-writing, lecture-attending, and breaks to recuperate, time will be limited. Even allocating hours to complete the required reading for essays is likely to be tricky.

Taking the recommended reading off of your plate before you even step foot onto campus, will put you in the right mindset for the learning you are about to do. You will feel a lot more clued in when lecturers start using terminology, or mentioning theorists and waves of cinema, you may not have come across before. 

And I mean e v e r y t h i n g.

In the long Summer break between further education courses winding down and your higher education study starting up, completely immerse yourself in cinema. It is unlikely you will have another opportunity like this once you leave Film School or university, so make the most of it!

If you are feeling lost, the Top 100 Films list from Empire and Sight and Sound are a great place to begin. Online streaming services are likely to have a bunch of the films listed, so make good use of the free trials available, or become a member at your local library if they have a renting service. And, if you can afford it, why not invest in a cinema membership card to catch all the latest releases too?

Once you have made your way through lists and new releases, seek out your favourite Director's filmography, or if have access to information about upcoming lectures, watch films related to those. Any viewing will allow you to establish a broader knowledge of cinema, and help you come up with ideas for the films you will be expected to make during your time studying.

Reading books and watching films by the bucketload is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing. To alleviate the pressure from constructing a film plot for a deadline, or to avoid forgetting the concepts you swear you will remember, keep an idea journal.

The journal doesn't need to be fancy - although we sell a pretty neat stationery set if you are that way inclined - just something that is portable and accessible for keeping track of anything useful that springs to mind. This could be lists of films you love, mood-boards of stills showcasing styles you admire, words you associate with a feel you would like to recreate, or even notes for entire narratives...

There is no right or wrong way to use your idea journal!

(Creator of A Film Club)

Did you study film in higher education? Tell us your tips for utilising the time before starting a course! Tweet them to us or use the hashtag #afilmclub to join in the conversation.

Black Panther Giveaway! *CLOSED* by Sian Parker

Black Panther-1.jpg

To celebrate the success of Marvel's Black Panther, and launch of our brand new website, we are hosting our second ever giveaway over on our Twitter page

Please familiarise yourself with the entry requirements and the terms and conditions below, before getting involved.

Entry Requirements and T&Cs:

  • The giveaway will commence at 8:00 am (GMT) on Monday 5th March 2018 and run until 8:00 am (GMT) on Friday 16th March 2018. The prize consists of: one Funko POP! Marvel: Black Panther Movie - Black Panther Collectible Figure (273) and one Funko POP! Marvel: Black Panther Movie - Erik Killmonger Collectible Figure (278).
  • To enter the prize draw you must follow @afilmclub on Twitter and retweet the giveaway tweet.
  • The winner will be randomly selected on Friday 16th March 2018 after 8:00 am (GMT), using The Competition Agency's Tweetdraw, and announced on the A Film Club Twitter page soon after.
  • The prize draw winner will be announced on Friday 16th March 2018 via the A Film Club Twitter, and contacted to acquire their full name and address for delivery of the prize. The prize will be sent out as soon as the aforementioned details are received, by Royal Mail Signed For 1st Class, and the winner will be notified of dispatch.
  • Anyone living in the United Kingdom, with access to the internet, is permitted to enter in the prize draw.
  • Please note that participation from private or protected Twitter accounts may not be counted when the winner is drawn via Tweetdraw.
  • Multiple entries by a single person is prohibited. This includes retweeting from the same account, as well as retweeting on multiple accounts owned by a single person.
  • Quote Retweets will not be counted.
  • If the winner is found to have broken any of the entry requirements and T&Cs and, another winner will be chosen at random using Tweetdraw as soon as possible.
  • If the winner does not respond to being contacted within 48 hours, another winner will be selected using Tweetdraw.

Good luck!

Creator of A Film Club

Beth Bayes on Sweet Like Poison by Sian Parker

  Sweet Like Poison 's promotional still.

Sweet Like Poison's promotional still.

At the beginning of 2018, we shared a post welcoming in the new year, and detailing how we would love for afilmclub.com to become a space for our members to write for too. With this in mind, A Film Club reached out to Beth Bayes to find out more about the current project they are working on. We'll hand it over to Beth to introduce themselves and the film...

I am a third year student at Brighton Film School. This is my final project and my graduation film. I've written it and will be directing it too! I've been writing, directing and producing all through film school but decided to major in directing as it's what I enjoy the most.

So, tell us about the film! What’s the premise?
It's a short film called Sweet Like Poison. It tells the tale of a girl named Dolly who's individuality makes her an outcast. Her loneliness leads her to dream up some dark fantasies. When she is the only one not invited to a class mate's birthday party she decides enough is enough and it's time to turn her fantasies into a reality. It's a relatable yet cautionary tale about consequences and fitting in.

 Beth Bayes (Center) alongside actors Lauren Cole (Left) and Louise Marguarite (Right) on the set of  Friend Request .

Beth Bayes (Center) alongside actors Lauren Cole (Left) and Louise Marguarite (Right) on the set of Friend Request.

Where did the idea come from? 
It actually came from the film that I made in my second year which was about a girl who attracted the attention of an online stalker [Friend Request]. It was mostly set in the main character's bedroom which was just our film school's set which we decorated with lots of pink and fluffy things and a lot of fairy lights.

I really liked that the background was so pretty but the story of the film was very dark. I knew I wanted to take this to the extreme so I came up with a character who appeared really innocent but had a sinister side to them. That's how I came up with Dolly. The story has changed quite a lot since then but Dolly and the overall look of the film has remained the same.

Who and what are the film’s main influences - stylistically and narrative-wise? 
I have taken influence from a lot of different places not necessarily just films. For example, Melanie Martinez is a singer who inspired the character of Dolly quite a lot. She directs all her own music videos and they have a very similar style to the one I want, with lots of girly and creepy visuals mixed together. This is also similar to an artist called Mark Ryden who I've been obsessed with for quite a while.

The Neon Demon (2016) by Nicholas Winding Refn was also a huge influence on this film. Both stylistically (the lighting in that film is phenomenal) but also narratively. The main character, Jessie, is young and innocent just like Dolly and this alienates her from the other characters.


 Beth Bayes pictured with DOP Gryff Bevan (Left) and Camera Assistant Jordan Wright (Right) on the set of  Friend Request .

Beth Bayes pictured with DOP Gryff Bevan (Left) and Camera Assistant Jordan Wright (Right) on the set of Friend Request.

When will the film be released and where can we watch it? 
This is a tough one! We have to have the film completed by May but we want to submit it to film festivals and most of them don't like you to have the film up online already. So I'm not sure yet, sorry! But if you donate to our crowdfunding campaign then you will receive a special private link to the film in May!

And where can we find more about it in the meantime?
So I am posting behind the scenes videos to my youtube channel every week! This includes behind the scenes of our location recces, test shoots, updates about casting and anything to do about the film! I'm also planning to do some more general film school related ones too. My channel is just bethbayes if you want to subscribe to that. You can also follow us on facebook (Sweet Like Poison) and twitter @sweetlpfilm where we post regular updates.

You can also find out loads more information about the film, storyline and crew members on our Indiegogo page! We are trying to raise £1000 to provide everything we need for our film including a location, special effects and paying our actors which is something film school students often aren't able to do. We're nearly 50% funded with a couple more weeks to go which is very exciting! Plus if you donate you will get your name in the credits, a special link to the film before anyone else and many more cool perks. You can find our page here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Beth and we wish you all the best of luck with the film! To keep up with Sweet Like Poison, check out its TwitterFacebook pageIndiegogo campaign and Beth's YouTube channel.