SIX OF THE BEST: We Are The Freaks Director Justin Edgar

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Welcome to another edition of SIX OF THE BEST, the semi regular part of BRWC where we fire six questions at lovely people.  This time, we talk to Justin Edgar, director of We Are The Freaks.

How did we get to We Are The Freaks?

I began writing the film 4 years ago in 2010 just before I turned 40 because I think that 20 years is about the minimum period to leave before you can do a film about your youth. It may have been a bit precocious but the world seemed to have changed so much in that period due to the technological revolution. As I was writing the the student riots happened and then the summer riots and the period when I was 20 seemed to have a lot of resonance for modern youth. I began by writing something much less genre but it gradually evolved into being a teen movie – don’t know why and it wasn’t a commercial decision! It just ended up going that way. I grew up on those films in the 80’s Savage Steve Holland, John Hughes etc. Love them.

Was it tough to put together?

Getting the film together was not that tough as I’m a fairly practical director and I knew what I wanted. I also worked with a great line producer I’ve worked with before and the film was shot in 15 days on a tight budget in March 2012. I don’t shoot a lot of coverage and edit really fast so we had the selling cut we took to Cannes ready in about a week. The real problem was that I made the film speculatively and had to wait to hear back from various people for decisions on sales and completion finance – this took two years compared to the 3 months it took to take the film from page to rough cut. However I’m glad we ended up with Metrodome who are a great distributor for this type of indie film.

What do you think our reaction will be to your film?

I’m pleased that audiences seem to like it on the whole as its a very subjective film. Personally I can’t bear to watch it because of that. I knew I was switching form a first person to a third person narrative and that jars with some audiences but I wanted the film to have a scrappy feel as though it came straight from the head of a teenager. We premiered in Edinburgh for the Michael Powell award and had two packed screenings up there that created a real buzz. I’ve watched it with audiences everywhere from a tiny island in the Baltic to Las Vegas (where we won best feature). It does seem quite divisive with some people liking it and some people hating it, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. What I would say to the people who hate it is that its probably a better and more thoughtful film than you may think it is!

What do you want people to take from the film?

What I really want is people to think about the teen movie and depictions of youth differently, also to re-examine that period in British history. Thatcher had a huge impact on this country. I’d compare her to Franco, Salazar or De Gaulle. I think there should be a real examination of that period by more serious minded films than this one and its a shame there isn’t yet.

What are your thoughts on the future for filmmakers in your shoes?

I think its an interesting time – We are the Freaks is a theatrical release but its future lies on TV and VOD where most people will watch it. These new distribution models mean you can get films made at the right budget and people ARE watching them and paying for them. The technology of production is also great – my first film was shot on 16mm and finishing it off was such a total pain in the arse. Its so much easier now. For the first time I shot on the Arri Alexa which we got amazing results with and I’m not sure I’d bother shooting on film again.

So what are you working on at the moment?

I don’t know how I got into comedy as I always wanted to make thrillers! I did one a few years ago that won best short film at Raindance so the next film will be a thriller and set in Birmingham. A kind of very dark Birmingham noir. It looks like I’m going to shoot in the autumn if all goes to plan.

We Are The Freaks is in cinemas from 25th April and out on DVD 5th May

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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