“Wild Honey Pie! Is an original relationship comedy starring the incredible Jemima Kirke! It’s that Seven Year Itch moment in our heroes marriage and being of the Millenials persuasion they itch til the relationship bleeds!” Director Jamie Adams on WILD HONEY PIE! Screening at SxSW 2018 Film.
I hear you are back at SxSW this year! Tell me about what you have had here in the past, and your favorite aspects of the city.
The gluten free club sandwiches from Whole Foods Deli are the best! The Alamo Drafthouse and the Paramount Theatre; they really are some of the world’s coolest theatres here in Austin.
So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.
The journey started when I was six years old, when I went to the video shop for the first time and knew i wanted to be a part of this somehow. I would make radio plays with my brother, and came up with my own TV station and programmed the imaginary channels. I picked up a super vhs camcorder in 1994 and made a short film and I have made movies every year since then.
Early on, to keep the magic happening I worked the day job as an Assistant Editor on BBC Drama like Dr Who and Features like STATE OF PLAY.
How did this project come together for you?
I think watching movies like HEARTBURN and SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE have stayed with me and then in the last few years I’ve experienced first hand how complicated things can be for modern long term relationships; pressures emerging from all angles, especially when children aren’t involved, or a mortgage hasn’t been applied for. I write the story outline and researched who might be great for the role. Jemima Kirke was one of the first actors that caught my attention for the lead role, she has a sincerity and authenticity that can’t be faked. Fortunate to have Jemima interested in working with me as we had several conversations about relationships, about love and lust and life in general…the simple stuff ! We built the movie around this moment in these characters lives where everything is being tested, they smash their relationship into pieces and we are with them every step of the way. It’s a simple life experience to fall into. I work with a co-operative of talented and generous film crew that have made several movies with me now, they know how making a feature film in 6 days works; we shot in my home town, it was the summer, we had such a beautiful time and at this point I should say that this last year I’ve been very fortunate to have a Producer in Maggie Monteith who has supported the work I truly want to make, so to have a micro budget guaranteed allowed for this particular personal movie to exist and no pressure to make it anything other than intended. Because we shoot so fast editing is always longer than average, an editor and I travel through the hours of footage and pull assemblies together for each scene like the way a documentary comes together in the edit – for me this is where much of the “writing” happens on an improv-led movie. Oh, I think I forgot to say that I have tended to write a scene by scene scriptment after discussions with key cast about character, this scene by scene is what we schedule and look to shoot although scenes get dropped and new ones emerge during the shoot. We improvise our way through the dialogue, we shoot fast and loose and I guide during takes more than in between takes. We end up with a four hour edit generally and then we make final structural decisions and music thoughts are made at this late stage and we make sure we have a deadline to meet, mostly self inflicted otherwise I feel as though the edit could go on and on. There are always so many possibilities. Then we mix the sound in a very natural and organic fashion, we grade hoping to invoke the spirit of the endeavour which is the originality of the process. Then you send it out into the world and hope that the people you admire enjoy your work. The people at SXSW are some of my most favourite Cinema people and on this occasion we’ve struck lightning twice! Where BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS introduced my work to American audiences At SXSW 2016, this year WILD HONEY PIE will take our work further into the consciousness of the great American cinema audience!
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
Ask anyone who has seen me working on set and they’ll say Jamie survives on bananas and chicken during a shoot, and a lot of water. During Pre Production and Post Production there’s a lot of Chocolate and cranberry juice. I mean mainly being a filmmaker feels like you’ve got a disease compelling you to continue to face this impossible task of making films, and it doesn’t get easier, each film will have its issues, struggle, but filmmakers only know about driving this story to Production and through that all the way home, to the finish line. Although that’s the other thing , generally the story of your movie continues forever more – it exists and takes on a life of is own.
What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
Shooting the scenes we needed so quickly is always tricky. These are tender, sometimes emotionally tense and other times physically demanding, and we have to get the coverage to be able to edit it and you know you oh have six days to shoot these scenes. We keep chasing our tail this way, adapting the story as we work through the shot scenes . We ended up nearly missing our ending! It was the only time I had something very specific in mind and the sun had started to go down. My DOP and I were upset and concerned as it’s the closing scene and this is what we were building to and it’s not right. We couldn’t see the solution as the light is wrong for the bench I wanted to have the actors sat on. We went further along the common to another bench. Again, it was wrong but this time there were people being very noisy nearby too. Time was running out light wise and working hours wise! The stills photographer who is known for twenty years turns to me and says “I know this is not my business, but you could get them to play the scene out on the rocks and the light would be perfect!” Bet my DOP checked out the location and it was perfect while the sun remained in the sky! We moved quickly and got the scene and I think it’s a beautiful ending.
I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
Bet Rourich is incredibly talented Spanish cinematographer who had shot the excellent ADULT LIFE SKILLS for Rachel Tunnard. I was looking for a new DP to work with on movies in 2017 and Bet immediately felt like someone I’d known for years! She’s so naturally gifted and a generous, patient person and she appreciated that working my way, shooting improv led scenes in such a short period of time would be a challenge, we discussed how we’d try to pre-light locations and make small adjustments during the shooting of a scene to help keep the performances moving forward. She is a fan of the French New Wave, as am I and I think we are excited by exploring possibilities. We worked on my Comedy Movie SONGBIRD in January and then came back together in the June to shoot “WILD HONEY PIE!” – It was interesting how the change in actors, location and First AD changed the way we shot this movie compared to SONGBIRD. Bet is a detailed cinematographer who is able to adapt and discover new possibilities and has the confidence in her abilities to shoot in a very intuitive way. We were always looking to shoot handheld using natural light as much as possible.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?
The SXSW audiences are truly the best in the World and can’t wait to hear their thoughts on the movie. Also coming together with Jemima Kirke, Sarah Solemani, Brett Goldstein, Dan Clark and my brother Ashley Adams on March 12th for the Premiere at the Alamo. It will be a very special occasion.
After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?
I think that the audiences at SXSW will lead is to what happens next.
If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
I love Chapter Arts Centre Screen 1 in Cardiff, the Capital City of my beloved Wales. Generally because Wild Honey Pie! is shot in my sleepy coastal town of Porthcawl in Wales and that’s the best screen in Wales so it would be perfect.
What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a screening, even if it was your own movie?
I’m sure that won’t happen at SXSW, audiences at SXSW tend to be respectful of the work they’re viewing, but if that were the case I’d probably think they were feeling so positive about WILD HONEY PIE! That they had to tell their friends and family about it immediately via text or leaving the cinema early to tell them in person!
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?
Honestly if there’s something else you could see yourself doing then go and do that! If not, of you’ve truly got the bug and can’t shake it then you’ll find a way to make films. Truly if there’s a will there’s a way.
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
When I was 17 in 1997, a friend and I were allowed to head to London on the National Express bus and attend a few screenings at the London Film Festival. We got to see this movie starring Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and Elle McPherson called THE EDGE. it was at the Odeon Leicester Square. It’s a huge screen and it felt like it was the most amazing movie. I felt like I was in heaven; somewhere completely exotic to the working class life I was experiencing in Wales. Was a spiritual moment for sure.
WILD HONEY PIE is screening at SxSW 2018. For more information point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film!