‘Waltz’ dir. Sam Blair & Edward Edwards
Filmed in the fading holiday resort of Towyn, North Wales, ‘Waltz’ is documentary, poem and allegory, transforming moments of innocent escape into a rapturous release from natural demise in monochrome slow-motion.
Directors: Sam Blair & Edward Edwards
Senior Executive Producer: Rankin
Executive Producers: David Allain & Jess Gormley
Key Cast: Adrian Groves
C8: Where did the idea for ‘Waltz’ come from?
SB: Edward grew up and lives in North Wales and knows the people who run Knightley’s where the film was shot. When we started talking about shooting something together using slow-motion the idea of shooting on the fair came up and we talked a lot about the themes and emotions that we could explore there using that approach. What excited us was capturing that moment of release that happens when you are spinning on the Waltzer and using those images to explore and express something other. At first we felt it would be about the experience of being a teenager, but the shoot revealed something else and the theme of the floods and the threat that hangs over the area came to the fore. We were led both by the images we recorded which were more emotionally charged and classically beautiful than we expected, and by getting to know Adi who works on the Waltzer and narrates the film. His emotional depth and ideas about the area made the film what it is. The narration is from a couple of interviews with him. Nothing was scripted.
C8: How early on was the decision made to make the film black and white?
EE: Filming in black and white came very early as the camera we used has the capability to shoot slow-motion in very low light but only in monochrome.
C8: You co-directed the film. Was the process of co-directing different than being solo?
SB: Co-directing can be difficult but in this case it felt very natural and came from a shared idea of how to approach the film. Filmmaking is all about collaboration so once you find the right people it is a real pleasure. We share an idea of what film should be so that’s the starting point. We also bring different skills to the table as Ed has lots of experience as a cameraman and Sam edits.
C8: What did you shoot on and what was the reasoning behind this choice?
SB: We shot on the Photron SA2 mono. Ed often works as a slow-motion cameraman so we had access to the kit and was discussing what we could do with it. We both come from a documentary background but both love taking a heightened, cinematic approach to capturing reality. This camera is like a documentary slow-motion camera as it can shoot very high speed in low/natural light.
C8: How did you and Edward prepare for the shoot? Did you storyboard shots or improvised on the day?
SB: We prepared by doing a couple of research trips to the fair where we would basically people watch, eat chips, and talk about the shots we wanted to try and capture and about life in general. We knew that the heart of the film was in capturing portraits of the people on the ride so after that it is like fishing – just shooting and shooting until you have what you need. The challenge and joy of documentary filmmaking is that things happen that you could never predict.
C8: If you did the whole process again is there anything that you would do differently?
EE: Sam thinks the title should be at the front of the film rather than where it is. But apart from that there’s nothing we would do differently we just want to do more.
C8: Are there any influences from film, art, or photography that you had in mind while making the film?
EE: At the start we looked at Tom Wood photographs.
C8: What advice would you give to emerging filmmakers?
SB: It may sound a bit trite, but work really, really hard, trust your instincts and try to be surprised by what you film. As we are both emerging filmmakers this is the advice we try to give ourselves. One of the hardest things when you are scraping around trying to get a break and make a living in the film “industry” is retaining the sense that film is an artform and one capable of immense beauty and power. It is a language that needs to be constantly learnt and explored so you can discover the way in which you want to express yourself, and that is really what it’s all about away from the unfortunate necessity of making a living.
C8: What is the essence of a good collaboration?
SB: The essence of good collaboration is probably listening, trust, respect and good communication, a bit like any relationship.
C8: What is next for you? Any exciting projects coming up?
SB: I just made a documentary about Diego Maradona, Ed has apparently retired. Despite that we want to shoot a longer film in North Wales further exploring these themes and characters.