Christine Cheung is an up and coming independent producer and co founder of Tread Softly Films. After working with the BBC early in her career she discovered her passion for filmmaking when she graduated from the London Film Academy. Since then she has not looked back and has gone on to produce a number of short films including Star and Small Dark Places. This year she has produced her first independent feature, Inner Calm, directed by Becky Preston. IndieFlicks was lucky enough to grab a quick interview with Christine earlier this week.
IndieFlicks: What made you get into filmmaking?
Christine: I have always been a fan of films. I was already working in television when I took a taster course to have a go at making films. They encouraged us to make a short film as soon as we finished or we’d never do it, so that’s what I did. I made a short one month later and I haven’t looked back.
IndieFlicks: What made you want to jump on board with the Inner Calm project?
Christine: About two years ago Becky gave me a copy of the script and I couldn’t put it down, turning page after page. The script still needed a lot of work and went through many transformations but the concept was brilliant, the notion of this world that exists after you die. I could tell there was definitely something there because I was still excited about making it two years down the line.
IndieFlicks: This is the first feature film you have produced. Have you noticed any big differences from your work producing short films?
Christine: Yes and no. Making a feature film is very different from making a short film in that it’s a huge responsibility especially with a film like Inner Calm where the story and concept is very ambitious, so it’s not something you can pull off on a tiny micro-budget because it just wouldn’t work. There are so many more things you have to overlook as a Producer on a feature, it’s definitely a more challenging task and I had to balance all this on top of a full time job. With shorts you can easily fit the time into i.e. weekends, but a feature demands so much more time and energy. It also becomes a business entity, lots of people depend on you, things you have to factor and consider, and there’s so much more riding on features - the stakes are high. It really is a different ball game.
Saying that, there are things that run parallel and the skills I acquired through making shorts are invaluable and have seen me through this project. If you treat a feature like all your other shorts but only magnified, then you have a good foundation to build from.
IndieFlicks: What was it like working with Becky?
Christine: It has been great actually. We’ve worked together on several projects prior to Inner Calm, and it’s worked out well. Every Director is different and the dynamic changes, but Becky is definitely more “hands on” and likes to get involved with everything. I have a lot of respect for her, she knows what she wants and has accomplished so much. It’s not every day you meet a Director who has made their first feature by the age of 21. It’s quite an achievement.
I would definitely work with Becky again, we’re both very critical and hard working so things move along incredibly quickly when I work with her. Between the two of us, we did all the backbone work and put this film together. It goes to show you don’t need a team of twenty to get a project off the ground.
IndieFlicks: You shot in a number of different places including the Czech Republic. What was it like filming there?
Christine: My trips to Czech were very brief, fly in and fly out visits but I’d take every opportunity to be there. It was very different from filming in the UK. The locations we found were on the doorstop from the hotel, and the crew did struggle a little with the language barrier but I think they did an incredible job and managed to get around the problems encountered.
We picked Czech because Becky had connections out there and the locations were stunning, we couldn’t have created the set here in the UK as our budget didn’t allow it. I generally think they’re more open to film crews going over there, they tend to encourage filming whereas there are more obstacles here. However, like all locations there are pros and cons.
IndieFlicks: When can we expect to see Inner Calm released?
Christine: Hopefully, the film will be ready for late autumn 2009 release. We’re still in early stages of post production but we’re getting material ready for sales agents and distributors.
IndieFlicks: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Christine: We have several projects in development and we’re in talks with people on possible collaborations. I suppose you’ll have to wait and see.
IndieFlicks: What advice could you give to any budding filmmakers out there?
Christine: I would suggest this:
1. Start small and build up your skills and knowledge
2. Find yourself a good team of people. If you’re a Director then get yourself a good Producer, and vice versa
3. Persistence and determination
With each film project you learn something new and there are always new challenges - we wouldn’t be film makers if we didn’t enjoy challenges! Be prepared for hard work and there will be plenty of knock backs, but you just have to persevere.
Log on next week for our interview with Inner Calm director Becky Preston. For more information on Inner Calm and Tread Softly Productions, visit their website - click