UK Film Director Si Wall: Bulgaria Is Integral Part of New British Soldier Film 'Baxter'

Interview |Author: Henry Rowlands | October 13, 2009, Tuesday // 10:53|  views

Bulgarian based UK film director Si Wall (R) will shoot 70% of his first feature film in Bulgaria. Private Photo

Interview with Si Wall, UK film director and founder of the Purple Frog film network.

Si Wall is based near the Central Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo and recently won the 24 hour film challenge at the Marbella Film Festival.

As the director of award winning films, how can you sum up your talent and what do you look for in a good actor?

It’s all about the attitude really for me. There are actors who are really comfortable with being directed, take ideas on board quickly, then interpret them in their own way, some I have met, although not too many, are not as receptive. A good actor will make a mediocre script come alive for you, whereas a poor one, can kill a great script.

As a Director living in Bulgaria what have you focused on already and what do you hope to film in the future in the country?

Well I filmed in Bulgaria last year, we documented the ancient fire dancing ritual, it was fascinating, and we stayed in the village during the build up too, the local residents were fantastic. They welcomed us fully and included us without reservation. It was a typical Bulgarian welcome. More than 70% of my feature film will be shot here too, there’s everything in Bulgaria, from spectacular mountains, endless beaches and breathtaking scenery, plus the lead female will also be a native Bulgarian. It’s a film which touches on two different cultures, it shows Bulgaria for what it is, a warm and beautiful country.

You learnt at ‘Raindance’, on the same course as Mathew Vaughan and Guy Ritchie, just before they made ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’. How did this help you to make the next step in the film industry?

It’s always nice to see talent rise to the top, and they worked well together and created a piece of Cinema history, I have never met anyone that hasn’t seen that film. It also shows that there are other routes into this industry, which gives all of us a little hope for the future. I guess it showed me that if your determined, you can make it happen.

How has Bulgaria affected your personal and professional life? In what way can you compare it to other places you have lived?

Well the first thing that happened here was I started to enjoy the peace of the country and started writing again. The first draft of Baxter (my film) was written in just 6 days, it was easy to write as I was so relaxed. Being here has also helped me to focus more on my career and my films. When I go onto a set now, I am relaxed and prepared and ready to work. It makes a change from turning up on the first day and already being stressed.

You like to concentrate on human relationships. What has been your experience of relationships between people in Bulgaria? How does this compare to elsewhere in the World?

Human relationships fascinate me full-stop. They become even more complex when you get people from different backgrounds and from totally different environments. It’s part of the film I have written, it fascinates me the way people adapt to their new environment also.

You are working on your first feature film, can you give us some insight regarding what it will be about, will it be filmed in Bulgaria?

Yes, nearly three-quarters of the film is shot here in Bulgaria, it’s more than a backdrop though, it’s an integral part of the story. It’s about a UK soldier, suffering from the loss of his comrades in Afghanistan. He is troubled by his past, but meets a Bulgarian girl, who over time, shows him that there are other ways to fight and other things to fight for. She tries to help him find peace and move away from his life which has always been fuelled by violence, does she succeed, well, I’m not telling just yet! It’s a friendship film really, the journey of two people whose lives cross and help each other in different ways.

You won the 24 hour film challenge recently at the prestigious Marbella International Film Festival 2009 and your film was praised by Star Trek lead William Shatner. What was the experience like for you? What is on the horizon for you and your team?

Well we didn’t expect to win, although I had a strong cast and crew, so knew we would hold our own. The two actresses were phenominal too, Lucy Misch and Annalea Doyle, they really brought the film alive. It was a bit surreal to be honest, actually winning a major award, we all sat and looked at eachother for a while afterwards, waiting for it to sink in. William Shatner said some nice things too, which is always nice to hear, especially from someone who has been in the business as long as he has. The same crew will shoot another short over the next couple of months, it’s already written and ready to be shot, so we will probably do that in London. The next major thing for us is we are now entered into Cannes, with Marbella Nights, our winning entry being shown and we will once again enter a 24 hour film challenge, but this is Cannes, so we can expect very tough competition from all around the world.

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Tags: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, fire dancing, Purple Frog, Marbella International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Si Wall, Baxter


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