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Baker's Dozen

"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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American Movie (1999, Chris Smith)
This is an almost perfect documentary. It has great characters, it is sympathetically told, you want them to triumph – it is a small story but has great impact. I really feel for the guys. I could have said this film or In Bed With Chris Needham, but American Movie for me is a film I could watch over and over again. I love the struggle of the independent artist, living in the regions, trying to make his mark on the world – and that driven feeling. Anyone who has tried to make a creative project knows what that feels like. And it is so funny. But lovingly told. I like that. If it was done with an arched eyebrow, I couldn't watch it. That is important to me, it has to be told with love. The thing I say is that I want people to recognise themselves on screen. I have filmed and interviewed people I didn't like but I will always be fair.

I am really conscious that people are opening their hearts and lives – quite often I am persuading people to take part when they might not want to. A lot of people didn't initially want to be in Sound It Out. And I'm really not that interested in people who really want to be in a film – there were some people who really wanted to be in our film, but as soon as they came into the shop, I would pretend the camera had broken. They were being attention whores, and I am just not interested. I have had people telling me I am too soft on my contributors – that I need to cut harder, be harder. But I have resisted it. I think you have to have a strong moral compass. I have been on the receiving end. I like Twitter, and try to engage, but I am never going to make a film everyone likes and some of the takedowns have been horribly vicious. It is not just "I don't like your film, move on". It is "you are a fucking cunt". It can be really hard. So I need to be able to live with the films and the choices I make.


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