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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


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.