ABOUT APPROVAL NEEDED
IMDb Script to Screen Audience Award winning script, Approval Needed, is a ten minute comedy / drama short film that is one of just four films recently commissioned by Talkies Community Cinema in association with Short Sighted Cinema. Approval Needed explores many of the key issues of our times by following the usually anonymous and almost invisible human being behind the job that seems to unite us all in socially acceptable hatred.
Traffic warden, Amita, has had a terrible day facing grim London weather and racist abuse from angry drivers, only to go home to a lonely bedsit. But, just when her life seems unbearably sad, a late-night trip to the supermarket introduces Amita to an unlikely friend and saviour in the form of a self–checkout machine.
WHY SUPPORT THIS PROJECT?
- Our commission by Talkies Community Cinema & Short Sighted Cinema means that Approval Needed will premiere in London at the HERE festival in early 2018.
- Approval Needed is already an award-winning project and has been described by industry professionals as a perfect film for the festival circuit.
- The production team / writer director have a proven record, previously having run a successful Kickstarter campaign and then delivered an award-winning film.
- Approval Needed will qualify on IMDb as Triple F-Rated, in that it is not only written and directed by a woman but also has a female lead.
- This is a story that entertains whilst also provoking the audience to look inside themselves and think about how we treat those around us, especially those who are different from us.
- Additionally this project embraces diversity and supports inclusiveness both in cast and crew, which will be at least 50% female, with women in most of the key roles.
- All the cast and crew are experienced and talented professionals who will be treated as such, and while a short film budget won't stretch to commercial rates, everyone will be paid at no less than the London Living Wage.
ABOUT THE WRITER DIRECTOR:
I’m Karen Anstee and, firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to check out my project.
Originally I trained as a violinist at the Royal Academy of Music and then embarked upon a successful freelance career, whilst writing fiction inspired by my time in the music industry. My short story Symphony of Sighs was produced for BBC Radio Four, starring Hugh Dennis and my novel When the Fat Lady Thins is now available via Amazon.
In 2012 I completed a Screenwriting MA at London Film School and I have since built a portfolio of feature scripts across multiple genres and I am now working towards directing one of those projects in early 2019.
My directorial debut came last year with my award-winning short film RACHEL, which was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and went on to win Best Foreign Film at the SNOB New England Indie Fest, USA. Rachel was also officially selected of the 2016 Ouchy Film Awards in Switzerland, where we were nominated for Best Director and Best Editing & Cinematography. This year brought official selection for the Portobello Film Festival in London and Rachel has screened three times at the UK International Jewish Film Festival this November.
As a director I have a strong vision and I draw upon my editing, photographic, musical, management, art and design skills to express that. But it’s not only about me – I believe the best work is achieved within a team of like-minded individuals and in a truly collaborative working environment. It is also imperative that I continue as I started with RACHEL, by ensuring that my team is diverse and at least fifty percent female - it is not enough to look around and notice unfairness, one must also be ready to step up and be part of the solution rather than adding to the problem by supporting the status quo.
SO WHY THIS STORY AND WHY NOW?
The inspiration for Approval Needed came from my every day life experiences – a trip to the supermarket where I got aggravated by the self-checkout refusing to let me complete a purchase; the many times I’ve looked out of my apartment window and seen drivers giving our local traffic warden grief for doing his job.
These are moments in modern life that nearly all of us have in common and can relate to – for that reason, Approval Needed is a story that makes people laugh out loud. This was absolutely, and joyously, confirmed at the IMDb Script to Screen event, where the five finalists were given a live performance at the Komedia Theatre, Bath.
However, there is more to Approval Needed than comedy.
We live in an age when we are humanising machines whilst increasingly treating human beings like worthless drones, a world where many are feeling their sense of security and belonging undermined by a resurgence of far right racist politics, a society in which we are becoming alienated and isolated by our dependence on electronic communication.
Approval Needed is a multilayered, meaningful story that maintains a sense humour whilst thinking about the impact that racism, depression, disability, identity, and an increasing lack agency in our society has on the characters it portrays. I believe that is why the script was voted the Audience Award Winner, reportedly hands down, at the IMDb Script to Screen Awards.
For me this project is a necessary career stepping-stone that will not only help give me further valuable directing experience before I embark upon making my first feature, but also qualify me to apply for networking, mentoring and funding opportunities through institutions such as the BFI and Film London. But, above all it’s a challenging, thought-provoking story that I feel I need to tell in response to these difficult times we are living through.
Completion and what comes next?
We are aiming to have Approval Needed completed by early March 2018, with our cast and crew screening happening soon after. Thereafter it will be submitted to festivals both in the UK and on the international stage, in particular to those festivals that would qualify Approval Needed for BAFTA and Academy of Motion Pictures consideration. The festival circuit is, approximately, an 18 month commitment during which time we will also seek a wider distribution deal for the film and use the project, together with my first short, Rachel as a calling card to help secure funding for my upcoming feature film.
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PRODUCED by Precious Hack Productions
During my time at London Film School I had lots of amazing opportunities to attend screenings of wonderful films followed by Q&As with their famous directors. On one such occasion a highly regarded auteur was asked by some filmmaking students how it was to work without a screenwriter and write his own scripts. He responded that he was “lucky not to have to work with those precious hacks”!
It was a painful awakening to how the role of screenwriter is often viewed within the film industry. But, out of that depressing moment came a determination to turn the tide upon the industry wide idolisation of directors and lack of acknowledgment / respect for screenwriters by forming my own production company.
And so Precious Hack Productions “Putting the Writer First” is born.
Whilst the company is brand new, my years in the music industry have prepared me well for producing films - in particular the time I spent working as an orchestral contractor for TV programmes and films produced by companies such at Talkback, BBC, Sky and Working Title – all of which gave me lots of practical experience in contract negotiation and managing far larger budgets than I am currently working with. I also have a network of support, including a company co-director who is a risk management specialist, and more than one film industry mentor with decades of high profile feature film producing credits to their names. So, this production is about as safe a bet as a film can be.
GABI NORLAND - Director of Photography
Gabi is a multi award-winning cinematographer with a wealth of experience in short film, music video, television and film. Her beautiful work can be seen on her website.
MAJA BITON - Assistant Director
Maja is an Israeli writer-director working in both Hebrew and English. During her twelve years in London she earned a BA in Film and Video from London College of Communications and an MA in Screenwriting at London Film School. Her short film Letter to God was screened at the BFI, ICA and festivals around the world. She currently has two feature scripts in development. Maja moved back to Israel in 2015, where she is Production Manager for the Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles. In 2015 she helped establish and build the first ever Israeli exhibition space at the American Film Market.
NICKI WELLS - Music
Singer, songwriter and composer Nicki Wells AKA Turya followed her 1st class honours degree in Music touring as a featured vocalist in Nitin Sawhney’s band. She has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues from London’s Royal Albert Hall to the Sydney Opera House to even Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage. Her voice has contributed to a number of films including Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules and was a major part of the score of the BBC The Human Planet series and other BBC documentaries like Wonders of Monsoon. As a Composer in her own right, Nicki has scored for Tanika Gupta’s theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Howard Brenton’s play Drawing the Line, receiving critical acclaim. She co-composed the score to Khyentse Norbu’s feature film Vara - A Blessing and has also composed three of contemporary dancer Aakash Odedra’s shows, which have featured in venues like Sadlers Wells and the London Royal Opera House. Their most recent contemporary dance show Je Suis won the Amnesty International Award for Human Rights at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Nicki furthermore composed the evocative score to documentary film maker Koen Suidgeest’s: Girl Connected. A documentary about five young girls who bring about inspiring change in their communities around the world. Her own much anticipated debut album of original songs, under her stage name TURYA will be released early 2018.
ALSO IN PLACE - Editor, Sound Recordist, Gaffer, Make-up and Hair, VFX artist.
Arinder Sadhra - Amita (Traffic Warden)
Arinder has had varied acting career since 2010 when she began this journey. Arinder is currently in touring with The National Theatre production of Warhorse. TV Credits include: The Strike Series - Cuckoos Calling (HBO/BBC); Broken (BBC); Uncle (BBC); Coronation Street (ITV) Film Credits include: The Black Prince; The Lighter; Rise Of The Footsoldiers 3; City Of Tiny Light; Second Coming. Theatre Credits include: Warhorse (The National); Redefining Juliet - Romeo and Juliet (The Barbican); The Scar Test (Arcola); Singing Stones (Arcola); Broken (Park Theatre)
Jessica Bennett - Jessica (Supermarket Self-Checkout Assistant)
Jessica has always had a passion for performing. She is currently in her third year at Bath Spa University, studying BA acting. Her recent work includes Gloucester in King Lear and the troubled character of Woyzeck in Woyzeck. It was Jessica’s wonderful performance in the live theatre reading of Approval Needed at the IMDb Awards that secured her the role in the film.
Ekow Otoo - Paul (Supermarket Manager)
Ekow is an actor, athlete, model, and poet / spoken word artist. His acting TV credits include factual sports programming, reality TV appearances and a Heineken commercial, whilst his film work includes the hotly anticipated feature Been So Long, produced by Greenacre Films, which is due to be released in 2018. He was also featured in a techno music video for the group Vinai. He was formerly on the GB Rowing Team development programme and triumphed in 2016 as Senior British championship gold medalist in Para-Rowing (TA). Currently he is in training for wheelchair racing events and he is also an MS advocate.
Dean Williamson - Simon (Angry Driver)
Dean is a versatile actor with experience of Film, TV, Commercials, Radio, Theatre and Voice work. Voice work includes Film and TV dubbing, Corporate and Commercials, as well as Audio Guides, Audio Books and many Computer Games. TV credits incl Coronation Street, Holby City, Casualty, Doctors (full list on IMDB). He enjoys Swing Dancing with his beautiful wife and puts up with a fussy cat in North London.
Anna Skye - Abigail (Harried School Mum)
Anna has a multifaceted acting career acting career that spans award-winning theatre, television and film productions. TV appearances include recurring character Jenny Ashton in The Bill, as well as roles in London’s Burning, The Darling Buds of May, Wycliffe, Moon and Son, The Green Man, three,seven,eleven, Frank Stubbs Promotes, Chandler and Co, Life Story, Birds of a Feather, Peak Practice and Rockliffe’s Babies. Films include The Honourable Rebel, Eat Your Principles, The Full Monteverdi, Room Service, Billy’s Wake, The Quiet Storm, Pizza Man, Dreaming of You, Nasal Passages, Nikolai, Meat and Leads and Follows.
The Overall Budget - what your backing will go towards.
Nearly everyone involved in this project will be giving their services at a reduced rate - short films are generally more about art than profit - but it is only fair that these talented people do get compensated for using their precious days off from commercial film and TV projects to work on Approval Needed.
Art Direction £500
Filming Permits £126
Equipment £2000 (Camera, Lighting, HardDrives etc)
Post Production £5650 (Editing, VFX, Grade, Music, Sound Design etc)
Festivals Entry and Publicity £1500
Our Stretch Goal
As cinematographer Olivier Stapleton once told me - always ask yourself if it would look better in the rain - the answer is nearly always yes. For Approval Needed it's a definite yes. But, despite filming in London we can't guarantee it'll rain - Amita's bad day will be funnier if it's chucking it down / raining cats and dogs, in true British fashion. So, if we can go beyond our funding goal and raise an extra £2000, then we will hire an SFX rain machine to make sure our traffic warden has a really miserable day.
What if we don't reach our funding goal?
To be honest, that would be a nightmare scenario. The actor playing Amita - Arinder Sadhra - is currently on tour with Warhorse, under an exclusive contract, but the National Theatre have kindly given her permission to take on this film project, as long as I schedule the shoot for weekend of 12, 13 & 14 January ’18. To miss that window would be a huge waste of a great opportunity to make a film that can make a difference in so many ways. But, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give up easily, so I’ll find a way.
A Quick Reminder - whatever you can do to help us get the word out would be hugely appreciated, so please follow & share:
Risks and challenges
OUR PRODUCTION SCHEDULE:
Successful filmmaking is all about attention to detail in the planning, great communication and remaining calm under pressure.
Because Arinder Sadhra is only available 12, 13, 14 January, the schedule for shooting is locked in so the turn around will be swift. Fortunately the same was true last year for my first film, Rachel, and the logistics of that film were hugely complex between filming in a working funeral chapel and on a beach inside a nature reserve. So, I am confident that I can deliver a high quality film on time despite the challenges.
To make sure that is absolutely the case a lot of of the pre-production prep is being done as if the funding is already in place.
Assistant Director, Maja, is coming through London after organising the Israeli Film Festival in Los Angeles this November, and we will be checking our locations, running through details such as props and costume and making sure the schedule is good to go well in advance.
And the arrangements for post-production are already under discussion. The dates for editing are already in the diary and Karen is in discussions with The Farm Group, who are admirably generous supporters of Women in Film & TV, worked on 'Rachel' and have already offered their help again.
Knowing that everything that can be organised ahead of time has been will give us the freedom to solve the unforeseen problems that always arise on a shoot.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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