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Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Wed May 04, 2011 6:23 pm

From MFO:

http://www.thecinematographer.info/articles/44-whos-shooting-who-43.html

Robbie Ryan BSC lit the short Pitch Black Heist with director John Maclean, shot on 35mm with Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham. Robbie also shot videos for Noah & The Whales with director Sophie Muller, and Coldplay with director Matt Whitecross.
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Wed May 04, 2011 6:23 pm

http://www.uk.filmcrewpro.com/film_view.php?uid=42593

Film: Pitch Black Heist
Pitch Black Heist
2011, 15 minutes

35mm Black and White Short Film

funded by Film4 and the UKFC and starring Michael Fassbender. DoP: Robbie Ryan
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:08 am

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/irish-film-producer-in-line-for-bafta-180802.html

Monday, January 23, 2012
JOBS CARS PROPERTY DATING
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Irish film producer in line for Bafta

By Sean O’Riordan

Friday, January 20, 2012

A FILM producer from north Cork is in line for a BAFTA award for her creation which stars one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, Michael Fassbender.

Gerardine O’Flynn, 34, who hails from Kilworth, was nominated for her film Pitch Black Heist.

She will be keeping her fingers crossed when the prestigious awards are announced on February 12 at the Royal Opera House in London.

A daughter of the late Dr Sean O’Flynn, Gerardine currently works in London, where she is production finance manager for films with Channel 4.

After leaving Ireland in 2000, Gerardine began her film and television career at Thames Television, which was followed by a move to Channel 4.

Within three years, she joined Film 4 where her responsibilities included managing the production side of all short films and low-budget features.

Last June, she took up a new role at Channel 4 as production finance manager for Film 4 and comedy.

The nominated 13-minute film produced by her, Pitch Black Heist, features Fassbender and fellow Irish actor Liam Cunningham, known for his roles in The Guard, Centurion and the Wind That Shakes the Barley.

"It was funded by Film 4 and the British Film Industry, which have schemes for higher budget short films," Gerardine said.

"It was great to work with Michael Fassbender, he was the nicest man ever." she said.

The producer, who lives in Tulse Hill in south-east London, said the film revolves around two professional safe crackers "who meet on a simple job to relieve an office safe from its contents.

"The catch is a light-activated alarm system impelling the men to embark on a pitch black heist, she said.

The film was screened at last November’s Cork Film Festival where it received much acclaim.

"If I win the award it will hopefully be a major boost for my career. I’m hoping to produce more short films," Gerardine said.
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:45 pm

http://www.ideastap.com/ideasmag/all-articles/John-Maclean-Pitch-Black-Heist

Pitch Black Heist: BAFTA-winning short film

As we launch our annual Ideas Fund Shorts brief, we hear from director John Maclean. Fresh from winning a BAFTA for his short film Pitch Black Heist, starring Michael Fassbender, John shares his advice for would-be filmmakers…

How did you get into film?

My background was actually in painting. I went to art college and once I left I got involved with music – all my friends were musicians. I was very interested in doing music videos. I always wanted them to be like short films – they were no budget and slightly dodgily acted but were a bit narrative. When it came to doing my first short film I didn’t think it was a massive step from what I was doing before.



Pitch Black Heist is your second short film with Michael Fassbender - how did that relationship come about?

The videos that I made with my mates were compiled onto a DVD and a friend of mine, who is Michael’s agent, passed them onto Michael and he really liked them. We were introduced one night a few years ago and Michael said, “Do you fancy doing something?” so I said, “Yeah absolutely.” I quickly scrambled together the first short idea [Man on a Motorcycle], which was pretty much based on what I thought Michael would like and how I thought it could be filmed.



Why did you choose to film Man on a Motorcycle on a mobile phone?

I was always shooting on my mobile so I knew its capabilities. I knew it was better in black and white and what kind of light I could shoot in, I have a little steadicam for it – it was equipment that I felt confident with.



Still from Pitch Black Heist, directed by JOhn Maclean.



How come you stuck with black and white when making Pitch Black Heist?

It’s got a lot of noir references and I was influenced by French black and white films from the 50s. Also, because it’s set in pitch black with lights that come on, it’s very tonal so it was a bit of a no brainer making it black and white.



You’re working on a feature now – what challenges has that thrown up?

Just writing the script. I thought it would be like a short film script times ten but actually it’s like a short film script times ten cubed. I’m enjoying it but it’s a challenge to hold someone for 90 minutes – it’s not just nine times holding someone for ten minutes.



What advice do you have for young short film directors?

Work within your means so you’ve not suddenly got a new bit of equipment that you don’t use just because everyone says you have to shoot on a particular camera. If you watch short films by people like Scorsese and Polanski, their shorts are very individual and unique. Don’t think of it as a show reel - my view was that I was making mini movies rather than short films. There aren’t really any rules.
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:46 pm

http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/film/interview_john_maclean_musician_1_2118431

Interview: John Maclean, musician
John Maclean, second from right, at the Baftas. Picture: Getty

John Maclean, second from right, at the Baftas. Picture: Getty

By DAVID POLLOCK
Published on Thursday 16 February 2012 00:00

HE played with the influential Scots group The Beta Band for almost a decade. Now he’s directing films and winning at the Baftas. David Pollock talks to the multitalented John Maclean

Those who were paying attention to Sunday night’s Bafta awards might have noticed a familiar face picking up the Short Film award, and being heartily applauded onto the stage by one of the defining movie stars of this year, Michael Fassbender.

Out of context you might not have twigged that John Maclean – the man in the slightly ill-fitting tuxedo and the thick glasses who directed the winning film Pitch Black Heist, starring Fassbender – was the same John Maclean who played with Scots group The Beta Band for almost a decade.

“I made videos for The Beta Band right from the very beginning, so it’s not like it’s a massive career change,” says Maclean on the phone from his home in London two days later, in the middle of chopping onions for a victory dinner with some friends. “I was always as interested in making the videos as I was the music. I worked in the Cameo cinema (in Edinburgh) and the Gate in London, I would watch as many films as I could, I started writing bits and bobs of scripts years ago, before the band split up. So it was a slow transition, a slow build.”

Maclean might now be thought of as a film-maker who used to be in a band rather than a musician who makes videos, and it was 2009’s short film Man On a Motorcycle which set him on his way. While it was all but unheralded at the time, it did represent the start of his productive director-actor relationship with Fassbender, who was even then emerging as one of the most talented and magnetic leading men of his generation.

“Michael’s agent is a friend of mine,” says Maclean, “which is how he saw the Beta Band DVD and the videos I made for The Aliens [Maclean’s other band, that includes fellow former Beta Banders Robin Jones and Gordon Anderson, aka Lone Pigeon]. When I was introduced to him, he said he really liked them and did I fancy doing something? He was shooting with Tarantino at the time [for Inglourious Basterds]. I said OK.”

Recognising the opportunity of a lifetime, Maclean went away and quickly wrote Man On a Motorcycle, which he says was based around Fassbender’s availability and “what he would probably find fun to do”. So low-budget that it was filmed on a cameraphone, it involved a week of shooting Robin Jones – a sometime motorcycle courier – driving around London, and then a day with Fassbender.

“When the helmet came off, it was Michael,” says Maclean. “I thought he’d like that – no waiting around, no extra crew, just go to the location and film.”

The reception was decidedly equivocal, says Maclean, with festival after festival turning it down until the London Film Festival said yes. A private screening for Film4 then saw them agree to produce Pitch Black Heist, a high-concept piece about two crooks (Fassbender and Liam Cunningham) staging a robbery in complete darkness. Despite the bigger budget afforded this time, shooting elements of the film with a blacked-out screen was also a canny cost-saving decision.

“We just went round to someone’s flat to record the dialogue,” says Maclean, “it was cheaper and a bit more comfortable.” Although he doesn’t really want to go into specifics in case he jinxes the project, he confirms what Fassbender revealed on the Bafta red carpet, that he’s currently writing a feature film and that the actor is attached to that too. Why does Maclean think the pair have developed an enduring working relationship?

“I think he probably likes the creative energy,” he says. “When we’re on set he likes the speed of it. I don’t fanny around, I just get what I need and move on. But I’m not sure… I just know that when you have a rapport with someone, it’s good to continue that. He’s great to work with, open and experienced and professional, and a good laugh too.”

Does he get the sense that there’s an element of patronage to Fassbender working with him, that he’s spotted Maclean’s talent and wants to use his presence to introduce it to the world?

“I presume so,” he says, “but he likes working with collaborators. Trust in a director is very important for an actor, and when you find it, it’s worth holding on to. Plus he’s so talented he can work like this on many different levels,” he laughs. “Tarantino at the top, Steve McQueen [on Hunger and the Bafta-nominated Shame] one level down, and me right at the very bottom.”

Although it must be the very last thing on his mind at the moment, Maclean doesn’t seem offended by the obligatory question about a Beta Band reformation. “It wasn’t an acrimonious split. We just finished. So if we were all in the right place at the right time and we fancied doing it for nostalgic reasons somewhere down the line, why not?”

That said, Maclean, who is a painting graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, was never the musical one in the family anyway. He was always more interested in the visual side of culture, while his brother Dave – drummer and driving force in the fast-rising indie band Django Django – preferred the sonic, and the pair were raised in Tayport around the studios of their parents, the visual artists Will Maclean and Marian Leven.

Being creative doesn’t come naturally, though, and he says he has to work hard at it. When dinner is out of the way, he’ll allow himself to be consumed once more by that script, just the latest enviable “day job” of many.
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:47 pm

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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:32 pm

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/04/13/tribeca-film-festival-michael-fassbender/

Apr 13 2012 09:30 AM ET

Tribeca Film Festival: Michael Fassbender is smoking in 'Pitch Black Heist' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
by Sara Vilkomerson

Let’s break down the short film Pitch Black Heist: Suspense, thrills, intrigue? Yes. High stakes drama? You bet. World-class crazily handsome and compelling actor? Oh, for sure. That all this is delivered into a lean, gleaming, 14-minute short film — soon to make its New York debut at the Tribeca Film Festival — makes it all the more impressive.

Not to mention its star studded cast, which in addition to Michael Fassbender features Liam Cunningham (best known as Ser Davos Seaworth on HBO’s Game of Thrones). Both men play thieves, assigned to a job that will require them to complete their task in complete — some may say pitch black — darkness. “One of my favorite films is Rififi, this 1950s heist film where there’s a stretch where they can’t make a sound. When I watched it a few years ago I thought it would be good to do it pitch black with sound. Plus it’s cheap,” says director (and former Beta Band member) John Maclean. The Scottish filmmaker and artist says he worked nine months on the script, tinkering with it in order to make it “cement tight,” and then shot three days in a pub and warehouse in London.

“I wrote it with Michael in mind,” says Maclean, whose collaboration with Fassbender dates back to before the X-Men star’s rocket rise to stardom. “He was shooting [Inglourious Basterds] at the time and was already quite busy, but he was still up for it,” says the director. An introduction from a mutual friend resulted in the 2009 short — shot on Maclean’s mobile phone – Man on Motorcycle.

Pitch Black Heist has already won plenty of accolades, including the 2012 BAFTA for best short film. Take a look at the clip below — which is not in total darkness, but instead shows the men relaxing in a pub and lip synching to Teresa Brewer’s 1960 song, “If There Are Stars In My Eyes.“

(And for fellow fans, John Maclean is at work writing his first feature-length film.)

The Tribeca Film Festival runs in New York from April 18-29.
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Re: Pitch Black Heist

Post by Admin on Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:02 pm

http://idolmag.co.uk/film/director-watch-john-maclean


Having started off in cult "folktronica" group, 'The Beta Band', before moving his attention to film, John Maclean's status as a fully fledged film director is about to be realised. First coming to our attention with his low-fi mobile phone short, 'Man On A Motorcycle' starring a certain Mr. Fassbender, we were excited to see they had joined forces again for 'Pitch Black Heist' subsequently winning Best Short at this year's BAFTA's. Now in the midst of writing his first full length feature, we met with John to discuss difficulties of moving from short to feature.

You’re working on your first feature right now, how is that going?

I’ve been writing it for about a year already…



Are you able to say what it’s about? Has it got any connection to Pitch Black Heist – I can imagine that being stretched out to a full feature…

No it hasn’t actually, I thought about that for a while but then I had another idea that I thought might be a bit easier because it doesn’t rely on that one twist like Pitch Black Heist…



I heard Michael Fassbender talking about the feature on the red carpet so I assume he’s already part of it?

Yeah, well I think so - it would be great. I started working with him when he was shooting Tarantino, he wasn’t in the public eye but everyone knew he was going to be big. I got lucky when I met him.

You didn’t always want to be a filmmaker – you started off in art and then music?

I did a bit of art and music and directed a few music videos but painting and film have always been the mediums that I loved most. With music I was always more interested in the visual aspects more than the writing.



That’s the BETA Band – you had quite the cult following…

We didn’t make any money but we got to travel the world - it was definitely fun.



Now that you’ve won the BAFTA are you quite intimidated by your next project?

Yeah, it’s sort of hard to say. Apart from the one night of fun and having it on my bookcase as a constant reminder… it sort of gives confidence to the people that I’m working with already, I already had a team but it just means that we’re all on the right track.



Do you like the recognition that it’s brought you?

As I said, I’m working with the same people as I was before, we all knew that the film was good and I guess we didn’t really need the BAFTA to say that it was good, and then everyone got in touch afterwards – opportunists, production companies, commercial companies that I’m not interested in working with. All I’m thinking about is the script and that it needs to be good.

I bet the mobile phone company that didn’t fund you for Man On A Motorcycle are regretting it…

Yeah, I went through every department, all I wanted was a bit of support but I got nothing.



You’re used to working low-fi equipment?

Yeah, and before that I made around 30 videos on my DV camera.



I expect you’ll be using more advanced technology on your next project?

Yeah, I shot Pitch Black Heist on film, so as long as you’ve got other people that know how use the equipment and I worked with a great cinematographer.



Both of the films had a similar style – very simple, black and white, what is your thinking behind this?

For Man On A Motorcycle it was black and white because of the pixels – I mean it’s different now but in 2008 we had to go to black and white. For Pitch Black Heist it just made sense for a heist noir.



Are you going to use black and white for your feature? Is that something that you would like to carry through – your visual style?

Yeah, I think I will shoot it in black and white, I just feel comfortable using it, I’m quite comfortable with it and a lot of my favourite films are black and white. Probably the fact that The Artist has done so well has made it slightly easier for me to get funded, I’ve always thought for years that you almost have to earn to use colour, all of the directors that I love started off in black and white – I think once you can grasp that use of tone then when you move on to colour you treat it with respect, you make sure all the costumes and the set are themed in the right colour. There were a lot of great colour films in the 70’s and you watch films now and there’s no real adduct…



How much do other films influence your work?

A lot, I watch films every day! Everything from the 20’s to now.



How helpful is it to work with a good actor like Michael Fassbender?

I hadn’t really worked with actors before; I’d worked with my band-mates, and tried to get them to act… the first shot I did with Michael - the first time I’ve ever used an actor, he fell off his motorbike and walked towards the car and I just saw him get into character and I almost burst out laughing because I couldn’t believe the way he turned, he was so un-self-conscious – I mean I’d worked with my mates for years and there’s always that element of them feeling self conscious or feeling stupid, but he was just – bang – it was quite impressive, extremely impressive.



Was that the moment that you felt you could properly pursue filmmaking?

(Laughs) Um, yeah when I edited that together and it started looking like a film, I thought… because up until then it had just been a bit looser, just music videos or stupid films with your mates, you don’t have to really consider the edits as strongly as you do in a feature, so yes, in the editing process I started to think that it could actually work.



I imagine the script writing process is more intense compared to a feature, how has it been?

Ah, it’s had it’s ups and downs.



I know some people go off into a hole and become reclusive…

(Laughs) Yeah, I might do that towards the end! But at the moment I’m working with people like the script editor and some moments you think, ‘Wow, I’ve got a great film here!’ and then other moments you think, ‘Wow, I’ve got nothing, it’s a mess!’ It’s sort of a fine line for a while.



Do you not only realise when you’re starting to film it whether it’s a good film or not?

Hopefully not, hopefully I can see that in the script because the amount of money it costs to make any film, I think the script needs to be vetted, so when I give it to Film4 or I give it to my agent who I trust, and they come back and say if it needs work then I will go back to it and work some more.



Do you hope to always work on your own scripts?

No, I’d love to work with someone else. Again, the only reason that I wrote both short films was because no one handed me a great short film treatment – if they did I probably would do it,



Do you not like the ownership of having your own script?

Yeah, I mean it’s a build up of confidence. If five years ago someone said I’d be writing a feature film, I’d think it was crazy. If I told my old English teacher – I was borderline failing English for years – that I was writing, that would be pretty crazy. So, yeah, it’s just a building of confidence to think, “Well, actually, yeah I can write a feature film.” it’s just a question of doing it.



Where would you like to see your career going, now that it’s happening…?

Just if I could make the feature film that I’ve got in my head then that would be good enough for me. I always thought that the ultimate dream, because I used to work in cinemas when I was at uni, was to have your film projected on to a screen that size, so that’s a kind of goal, but as soon as you got that then you may run to another goal. You get directors complaining because they’re not Oscar-nominated and it just keeps changing. So film projected on a big screen would be the goal.



Did you enjoy the BAFTA’s?

Yeah, it was really fun. It was very nerve-racking beforehand and luckily they do the shorts quite early on so I could just sit back and relax. It’s fun being in a room where nobody isn’t famous. I was only star-struck when I met Scorsese and I managed to shake his hand and couldn’t say anything.



What is it about filmmaking that draws you in?

I’ve been watching films since I was a kid, since my dad took me to see Star Wars. It’s just a magical thing, I still have a romantic notion about it, kids these days downloading bits of films and then fast-forwarding, I just still feel that the cinema still has a place.



Your film does have a classic, old style to it, in it’s simplicity, is that the sort of thing that you enjoy?

Yeah, I do actually, I think that the best films are all old stories anyway, like I went to see Carnage the other day and that’s just an old story done in a new way and it’s great, it could be Chekhov or Shakespeare – it’s just people in a room, with problems.



Would you like to head to Hollywood – if you were offered a good feature with an amazing cast?

I think I’ve got that already (Laughs). I think to make the feature I want to make, I have to be in control, and you stay in control by keeping the budget low. I don’t even think there is such a place as Hollywood, I think it’s just finding the right people you want to work with – they might be American, they might be Australian.



You wouldn’t want to do a Christopher Nolan and go over there for a franchise?

I don’t think so because I think he’s a different director, I think they’ve got a lot of experience, maybe, in advertising and commercials and I think you need that experience to have the confidence to direct those kinds of films, whereas my experience comes from more music and low-fi, so I’m much more confident with small stories…


Who is your IDOL?

It’s hard to have one. When I was young the first person that made an impression was probably Andy Warhol, because I had friends that were just musicians, or just artists, where as I always thought that I was better at putting those people together, or somehow being involved in creating a group of people which is what we tried to do with the first band – The Beta Band. Also Scorsese from a filmmaking point of view.

Interview: Emma Hurwitz

Images: Elliott Morgan
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