Last year’s Plymouth Film Festival saw one film pick up a haul of awards in not only the Fiction category, but also the Audience Choice award and the coveted Grand Prix, as well as a nomination for The Roger Deakins award.
I Used To Be Famous from writer/director Eddie Sternberg and the Superplex team, tells the story of a bold and moving culture clash between a failed singer from a late nineties boyband and a musically talented young man with an incredible ear for rhythm. Made in conjunction with The BFI and Film London, this film follows two outsiders who transform each others world’s through the power of music.
We spoke to Eddie about his experience creating this award winning short film, what’s next from Superplex and his tips for success:
Can you start by telling us about the process of creating I Used To Be Famous?
The first time I started thinking about it was back in August 2013, that was when I first had the idea of the character Vince. After about a year of percolation, Chris Pencakowski, the producer of the film, convinced me to send it off to Film London and submit it for the London Calling Southern Exposure Film Fund.
We hurriedly pulled a pitch together, wrote the script and sent it in. We made it through to the shortlist, and then we were workshopping for a couple of months before we were invited to pitch and eventually win the fund. Luckily, we were successful and from that moment it was all systems go and I was just writing, writing and writing. Pre-production kick started a month or two after that, then the actual shoot itself took place over 3 days in early June.
Overall, from pre-production to delivery, the film took about 8 months. However from the initial idea, the initial script – it’s been with me for a couple of years. We completed filming in just 3 days, which was down to the help of a great producer, and an excellent cast and crew.
It sounds like you had the support of a great crew behind the production:
Absolutely, most of the crew worked on my first short film which was called Out Of Body, so we had a ready made team this time around, along with a few new faces, we worked really well together.
Tell us about the first film you made:
I made a short film back in 2009 that no-one is ever allowed to see!
But the first ‘official’ short film I made was Out of Body, it was made in 2014 and funded by Transport for London and released at Safe Drive Stay Alive events as a road awareness piece, but it also had another life at film festivals so it could reach an wider audience.
We’re currently discussing how it will be distributed but it should be available very soon.
What was your experience of taking part in Plymouth Film Festival?
I submitted the film very near the deadline, so I emailed Will and Ben to make sure they had received it. They were really helpful, the most responsive festival organisers that we’ve experienced. Despite it now being only in it’s third year the festival itself seems so established. From submitting the film, to the screenings, to the response after the event, I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.
And topped off by all your wins!
It was absolutely amazing!
We were looking at the Grand Prix winner from the previous year, The Fly from Director Olly Williams, we were so impressed by it and we realised the standard is so high here. We were delighted to have been nominated in the Fiction category and our DOP Eben Bolter was particularly excited to be nominated in the Roger Deakins award category of course, it just didn’t cross our mind that we could win the Best Fiction, Audience AND the Grand Prix.
It was really overwhelming and we had an amazing weekend in Plymouth. It’s such a nice city – to just experience the festival and the standard of films would have been great, but that we ended it on such an unexpected high note was fantastic.
So what’s next for the Superplex team?
We’ve got a few things happening – I’ve been developing a feature length version of I Used to be Famous along with writer Zak Klein (co-writer) Chris Pencacowski and Collie McCarthy who are co-producing. We’re just coming to the end of the third draft which will hopefully be ‘the one’.
I’ve also got a few television projects that I am working on, one of which is with the incredibly talented Kayode Ewumi. Superplex has a nice slate of projects too. My long term collaborator Adam Baroukh has just been given the UK Jewish Film Festival’s Pears Fund for his short film The Outer Circle and Chris has a couple of other feature projects he’s been working on, one of which is an exciting full length documentary called Owl Man.
Any advice for aspiring filmmakers?
Whenever I get asked this I always find it tricky, because I’m still very much at the start of my career. We’ve been really lucky with the success that we’ve had with I Used To Be Famous, especially in Plymouth, and our other shorts too.
I suppose I would say do your research on the Festivals, there are so many out there If you really do your research, you can find a festival that is suited to your film – read up on their ethos and what they look for – you can have a lot of success.
In general the one piece of advice that I would always stand by is that it’s paramount that you have a happy set. From the Producer to the Production Manager, the Runner to the DOP. Making a film is a totally collaborative process. If everyone is happy (and fed well!) they’re going to be at their very best, which in my opinion, is the best way to make the final product as good as it can be.