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"Shy People Telling Small Stories, Quietly": Jeanie Finlay's Favourite Films
Adrian Lobb , April 24th, 2014 10:40

Jeanie Finlay, director of Sound It Out and The Great Hip Hop Hoax picks her favourite films, and talks about the final days of fundraising on her next documentary, Orion

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Photograph courtesy of Jo Irvine

Filmmaker Jeanie Finlay is feeling frantic. It’s the final few days of fundraising for her next documentary, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, and as her latest Indiegogo campaign (make a pledge here) inches towards its total, she is working on ensuring the rewards for her supporters are of the highest quality.

“We’ve got motherfucking original Orion eight-tracks that survived the floods in Nashville to give away,” she says, speaking via Skype from Nottingham. “Loads of things got destroyed in the big floods, but these eight-tracks are like cockroaches, they never die. We’re framing them, because no one plays them these days, and offering them as perks.”

Finlay’s breakthrough film, Sound It Out, was one of the first films to be crowdfunded in the UK. The film captured the unique community that builds around record shops – in this case, Teesside’s last remaining independent vinyl emporium – with warmth, wit and sensitivity. It also built its own community, with the film’s supporters (of which I was one among many) rewarded with posters, badges, a brilliantly packaged DVD (dressed up as a 7” single), but more than that, a feeling of connection to the film and a sense of having helped shape, in some small way, the range of films being made.

“It is weird, I have given money to crowdfund about 30 things, including the Belle and Sebastian film, God Help The Girl,” she says. “And when they let me know what is going on, I feel really proud, I want them to succeed.

“When I showed The Great Hip Hop Hoax [Finlay’s documentary about two Dundee students masquerading as West Coast rappers] at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2013, I made these paper lie detectors. You know those fortune telling fish? I redrew them as lie detectors and gave them away at screenings all over the world. Loads of people came up to get them and said how they had funded Sound It Out and were here to see my new film. That is magic, it feels like they are coming on a journey with me.”

Finlay works out of the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, where all her films have had gala screenings. “I’ve been there since 1997. I used to work in the bar, I ran the kitchen for a year,” she says. “I have a really good audience in Nottingham. When Sound It Out was in the cinema, it took more money than all fiction films put together over one weekend. It was amazing. And because I am crowdfunding at the moment, they are showing the trailer for Orion before every film in April. And the guys in the Sound It Out record shop keep their eye out for Orion records for me.”

Although the funding is not yet all in place, Finlay has already put in the hours on Orion. She has been following the story of the mysterious masked country singer who found fame in 1979 as an Elvis Presley soundalike and lookabitalike for years.

“I have done an awful lot of filming on not very much money,” she says. “I have shot 80 per cent of the film, nearly 90 hours of footage, and amassed thousands of photographs and lots of archive film. I have done it in a really indie way. I had the trailer when I was making Sound it Out, so it has been a long journey.

“I have been in the States four times, and managed to gather a lot of the story from people who were close to Orion. But films are never what you think they are going to be. You just have to listen – I don’t write questions any more, I want to listen to what is happening, react to what is happening in front of me. I care deeply about what I am doing. I’ve tried to care less but it is impossible. It is essential we get this fundraising in, I’m just trying not to think about the enormity of it.”

Head to the Orion Indiegogo page to help fund the film and click on her image below to begin scrolling through Jeanie’s choices

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Apr 24, 2014 7:42pm

I hosted a Q&A WIth Jeanie Finlay at the EIFF last year.

She is utterly charming, genuinely funny and, quite clearly, a brilliant film-maker.

A lovely human.

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