British Shorts Berlin 2019
Alexander Milo Bischof
‘Razzmatazz (or A Minor Misdemeanour)’
Drama / Comedy / Animation
Sat 19.1. 21:00 / Acudkino 1
An uptight middle-class couple comes face-to-face with some neighbourhood youths.
Hi Alexander, thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for British Shorts 2019?
Absolutely! I’m really looking forward to the festival. This will be my second trip to Berlin. It’s such a historic city with an incredibly vibrant creative community. Plus, the British Shorts programme looks phenomenal.
Any nerves ahead of the festival?
There are always nerves ahead of a festival, especially when it comes to networking. But I am looking forward to meeting new and like-minded filmmakers and get a chance to enjoy their work.
How does it feel to be at the festival with Razzmatazz?
It feels great! I am really proud to be amongst such a talented bunch of filmmakers. The programme looks fantastic! Also, this will be the official premier of our film and I am really looking forward to seeing it on a big screen.
The response to your work has been amazing, what has it meant to you to get this type of reaction?
I believe that any type of reaction is a good reaction when it comes to feedback on a film but of course I am very pleased that people enjoy it so much. However, I didn’t really expect viewers to be quite as amused by the film as they turned out be. The subject matter of my films isn’t usually that funny so it’s great to get a new kind of reaction to this film.
Tell me a little bit about Razzmatazz how did the film come about?
Razzmatazz tells the story of Liz and Philip, a couple living their life in a middle-class bubble, whose Saturday morning routine tennis match is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Jack and Billie, two youths from the local council estate. The film takes a critical glance at the age-old issue of 'privileged’ versus ‘underprivileged’ and flips a stereotypical situation on its head. It's about the consequences when forced to step out of one's comfort zone - the hypocrisy of the middle class and their fear of the unknown. The story is told from an unconventional angle where the middle-class couple are the perpetrators and the working-class youths are the victims (contrary to what is usually the case in British drama).
The idea for the film came to me during a game of tennis with my brother. I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be great to use a tennis court as the setting for a clash of classes”. The sport is still regarded as fairly posh and nobody ever assumes that a person from a working class background would be into tennis. It felt like the perfect setting to tell this story.
What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing Razzmatazz to life?
Due to limited budgets, I tend to run a tight ship when it comes to my productions. This film, in particular, was shot in a day and a half and the weather really caused an issue this time around. The tennis court scenes were shot in one day in July last year and we must have had every kind of weather imaginable, apart from snow. One minute we had beautiful sunshine, clear skies and the next minute torrential rain - it was even hailing at one point. The fact that we shot in black and white pretty much saved the film as you can barely notice the discrepancies in weather.
Have you always been interested in filmmaking?
I have always been fascinated by movies. When I was a little boy I secretly taped movies which, let’s face it, I shouldn’t have really watched. The late 80s and 90s, in particular, were a wonderful period for movies. When I was a teenager I used to work in a cinema over the summer holidays and I would sneak into the screenings and watch a film while others were shovelling popcorn. Terrible, I know, but it was magical. I remember watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia for the first time and it simply blew my mind. I know it’s not everyone’s favourite film but on that day I knew that I had to become a filmmaker and that one day I would write and direct my own movies.
What feeds your creativity?
Most of my ideas take shape while listening to music. It’s normally just a scene that unfolds in my head while listening to a particular song. Music is so cinematic. There’s something in music that stimulates my imagination and inspires the stories I want to tell.
How has your approach to your films changed since your debut short film?
My approach to writing has changed most over the years. I spend a lot more time getting the screenplay right. With my first short film, Forever Mine, I was desperate to make a film and made the mistake of rushing the script. I still like the film but the script could have been better.
As a filmmaker how important is the collaborative process for you?
It’s hugely important. Without great collaborators you would have a rubbish film, that’s a fact. There is nothing more wonderful than having a like-minded team of people whose sole objective it is to make a great film.
Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow filmmaker?
I’m not sure if I’m in a position to give advice but my tip would be: Don’t overcomplicate a production. Find a core team of brilliant collaborators and make a film. You don’t need a crew of 50 people. It’s a waste of time and money.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a short film entitled Our Friends, the Bastards which is a somewhat follow-up/sequel to Razzmatazz and I am hoping to shoot that at some point this Spring. I am also working on getting funding for a feature project called Beneath the Catalonian Sun.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
I don’t mind if people love or hate the film as long as it sparks a conversation. That’s good enough for me.