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Samm Haillay • Third Films

Producers on the Move 2011 – United Kingdom

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- Producer and part time teacher Samm Haillay parlayed his company Third Film into a major player on the global independent cinema scene

Samm Haillay • Third Films

Full-time producer and part time teacher Samm Haillay parlayed his Newcastle-based Third Films into a major player on the global independent cinema scene with Duane Hopkins’ Better Things [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Gillian Wearing’s Self Made.

Cineuropa: Can you briefly describe Third Films’ current feature slate?
Samm Haillay: We are currently financing the second feature of Duane Hopkins, Bypass. This is a morality tale of societies feared and forsaken. Duane is also developing gallery works and photographic projects that Third is producing. Some of these are related to the narrative work, creating a multi-platform world. We are also developing the first feature of the Berlin and Venice-winning Daniel Elliott, Frontier. I’m always looking for new bold director-driven feature projects to take on.

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What was the genesis of Better Things and were you pleased with the response to the film?
The idea behind Better Things was to make a film that was theme-driven rather than story driven. That theme was the human need for romance and relationship. The response was great, both Duane and I were very pleased with the critical reaction to the film, the fact that it was seen all over the world and the way in which most people who see the film engage with a different, non-classical way of storytelling.

How do you balance your teaching and your producing career?
It’s not hard to balance really, producing is my real work and that informs the job of teaching. I enjoy teaching and it gives me a chance to expose the students to films they might not otherwise see and processes that they might not otherwise think about in this very digital-driven, short attention span world.

What are the challenges facing the British independent feature film section today, and what do you think are the remedies?
There are many challenges but audience share and making budgets viable is key. As producers we have to begin to investigate ways in which we can nurture audiences by utilising digital and other platforms while maintaining the integrity of our work. Being British I have the added dimension of a common language with Hollywood, this does not mean however I simply have a wish to make genre films or utilise any multi platform ideas in a similar way. I would like to develop audience experience for a project in different spheres with a feature film being one element of a wider endeavour.

I would also like to see the UK rejoin Eurimages and have some of our film funds set aside for co-productions. I feel this would make us a viable partner on a host of projects from the small and vital to the larger ones with more cash. There is also the argument that a quota and levy would both create a demand and pay for a more robust UK film industry but this is such a political hot potato given that the studios run most of the cinemas it might be very difficultly for any government, even on that agreed with it, to enforce. Certainly not a chance that could happen overnight but one I think broadly that would really help indigenous cinema in the UK. However, for now cultivating a healthy culture of coproduction for the UK should the aim I think.

What does being selected as the UK's representative for EFP’s Producer on the Move mean to you?
It is great to have a spotlight for the work that I’m producing and the talent that I work with. Being UK’s representative for EFP’s Producer on the Move means I can not only highlight current work and enhance its profile but also make new connections and networks as well.

What are your hopes and ambitions for Cannes this year?
One of Duane’s previous installation films [Cigarette at Night] has been selected to screen as part of Directors' Fortnight, so I’ll be very busy promoting this and the rest of the series of works that it comes from. Also having this film in Cannes allows me to push forward the financing for Bypass. I’ll also be on the lookout for opportunities to meet new talent and projects to consider working with.

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