Dan Florencio is a man of many talents – an editor, a motion graphic designer, and now also a fully fledged fiction director, who after incisive short documentaries made the leap to narrative fiction. After teaming up with the amazing Pegasus Pictures, Daniel was able to complete his latest film Chasing Robert Barker.
Daniel has given us an insight into the journey he went on making the film.
What inspired the story of Chasing Robert Barker?
D: The film was inspired by a short documentary I was commissioned to produce for Current TV, I followed a night of work with a London paparazzi photographer as he tracked the whereabouts of Prince William and his then girlfriend Kate Middleton. I knew that there was more to that universe than what I had portrayed in the 8 minute documentary, so I started work on the first draft of the script. It was around the same time that the phone hacking scandal came to light and the Leveson Enquiry began, so the film also touches on those issues.
How long did it take to write?
D: I’d say the whole thing, from scratch to shooting script, about a year and a half.
How did you raise the funding?
D: We did a Kickstarter campaign and raised £50,000. But still, that wasn’t enough. Completion only happened when Pegasus Pictures, the Icelandic producers of Game of Thrones and Fortitude decided to come on board. They were in charge of the whole post-production (except the off-line), and brought in some very talented people to work on the film. It was a joy working with them.
How did being the film’s writer and director affect your editing process?
D: It does affect it in the sense that you don’t have a clear view of the edit. You’re influenced by everything that happened from scripting to shooting. However, I had no other option, we didn’t have the money to get someone else on board. But since it took about a year to get the co-producers on board, I stayed distant from the film during that time, and it was a good thing. When I sat back down to carry on with the new versions of the cut, I realised I had a much fresher approach and could see much clearer what was needed for the film to work.
How does being an editor influence you as a director and vise versa?
D: When directing you understand what you’re going tot need for the cut to work in the edit room. Sometimes it’s not a good thing, since you tend to ‘edit’ the shoot, rather than having a free flow dynamic with the actors. You have to police yourself on this, and the 1st AD would always tell me off when he caught me doing it. While editing, I believe it gives you a better understanding of the nuances of the film you’re working on, which can be very helpful while structuring intricate or more elaborate narrative structures.
How did you manage your time working on the film with your freelance bookings?
D: Of course when pre-production and production was going on I had to dedicate myself 100% to the film. There wasn’t any possibility I could carry on with the bookings. However for the scripting and development process, which is what takes the longest, I would work on the film in between bookings.
What lessons will you take onto your next film project?
D: Surround yourself with talented people, which was the case with Chasing Robert Barker.
What was your Cannes itinerary? What did you do and how long were you there?
D: We spent 5 days in Cannes, we were there mostly to promote the film. So, for the whole festival we were attending meetings to discuss the film and show people the trailer. It’s hard work, people look at Cannes and believe it’s all about red carpets and celebrities, what they don’t see are the many floors inside the Palais des Festivals crammed with companies selling, buying and promoting films. Since all of them can’t fit inside the Palais, they also set up offices outside, all along the Croisette. So, you spend a lot of time walking up and down the town. There were also talks promoted by the Festival or by organisations attending the Festival. But of course all this happens at the back of the Festival, so you bump into celebrities at the elevator, you attend red carpet premieres, watch films and go to cocktail parties. After so much hard work, you do need to relax.
Has Cannes generated interest in your film?
D: Yes. People were interested by the subject matter and the quality of the film.
What advice would you give those in the Blueberry talent pool who want to make the move into directing?
D: Take your downtime in between bookings and do it!
Well done Daniel.