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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


Burden Of Dreams (1982, Les Blank)
I've switched at the last minute, from Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant, which I love, with all its crazy maverick nonsense – it is a psychedelic trip. Nicolas Cage is the best of actors and the worst of actors – sometimes his hair does the acting. I like watching him eat up the screen, even when he is being totally over the top. It is so bold. I would rather watch a bold film than something made mildly, which doesn't always show in my filmmaking. But again, Burden Of Dreams is about one man's struggle to be creative. There is not much to say about it.

Werner Herzog is just fantastic, I love his single-mindedness. He has become almost a parody, this slow, languid voice-over. But his filmmaking is so deft. He still asks the important questions. Grizzly Man is amazing. I don't like voice-overs in films, but I like his voice-overs. Fitzcarraldo is a ridiculous film. But the making of it, for me, is much more crazy than the actual film. They tie themselves in knots. I love the image of trying to drag a boat over land. The idea that instead of sailing around it, they cut through the land is just insane and amazing.

I recognise it. Part of being a director is that you end up being completely demanding. I really push my producer: "I really need a helicopter shot of an oil rig – can I train to be on the helicopter?" You have to try. Everyone is striving. I love making films, it is rewarding, endlessly fascinated. I find it very nerve-wracking and get very emotional because I invest so much of my heart in these films, I feel so protective of them. It is really tough. With Sound It Out, that was one I pitched to a broadcaster who said it was too small and boring and would make a ten-minute film at best. The experience of going ahead and making it, and people backing me, I can't tell you how life affirming that was. I introduced my tiny film at SXSW, it seemed ludicrous, but it was sold out and there were queues around the block. I sat down afterwards in floods of tears – good crying!