Interview with director Rob Bell

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

My very first memory of working with video coincides with the advent of the phone camera. My brothers and I were obsessed when my Dad first brought home his new work-phone flaunting it’s .001 megapixel camera. It was the start of an era of countless stop motion films and ridiculous skits that was the birth of a future career. I’m sure the younger version of me would be pretty excited to know how far we’ve come.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Absolutely not, there are hundreds of examples of filmmakers that didn’t go through any sort of film school. However, studying at a university was an experience I would repeat at the drop of the hat.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Keep going for sure. I get very excited at the conceptualising stage of a project, when the creative juices are flowing and nothing’s off the table. As the process continues of course and you start to have to work within certain limitations it’s easy to lose sight of why you started. But with perseverance and a solid crew around you, getting past that wall and finally getting to see the finished product is always worth it.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

One huge obstacle of Forever Bound that required navigating  was shooting abroad. There was a language barrier between myself and the cast, and not being able to recce locations was pretty daunting. Thankfully our producers were excellent translators, and being open to letting them take the reigns on a lot of the pre-production in Italy was totally worth it, if not scary.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

The hardest choice is always whether to cut something that’s not working. You may have had this grand idea from the very start, but once you’re sat in front of it and it’s doing nothing for the project, it’s time to leave it on the cutting room floor. 

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

With film myself and my  collaborators have only ever found each other via word of mouth and meeting on set. I think that’s an organic process that feels pretty unique to the film industry.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Audience wants are so varied it’s always going to be impossible to please everyone. If you try too hrd to be everyone’s favourite, whatever makes your voice or vision unique gets lost in the process. You have to be happy to be marmite; they’ll either love you or hate you, and that’s exciting.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

I think following on from the previous question, film is about making something for yourself, and whether that’s liked or not comes secondary. However I must admit it’s pretty nice to have your efforts recognised on the festival circuit. 100% the best way to get the most out if it is to attend as many as possible. That’s how you meet some of your best collaborators.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

No good story ever came from playing it safe. That applies to both film and life in general. No one else is going to be excited about a project if you’re not.