WarpFilms, MIFF 2003

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With classic clips under the belt for the likes of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Squarepusher, Prefuse 73, Mira Calix, Plaid & Anti-Pop Consortium – Warp Records obviously enjoy a certain amount of audiovisual notoriety. They’ve decided to push things along a step further, by developing a Warp Films division ( www.warpfilms.com ). They’ve had one succesful short film DVD release, are currently in development of it’s first feature ( Shane Meadows ) and have an enviable roster of directors working with them on future projects. A selection of these clips and directors are screening now @ The Melbourne International Film Festival and WarpFilms manager, and from a noisy London train, manager Mark Herbert detailed their plans.

How did the shift to Warp films come about?
Well, it’s been a fairly organic process – we’ve always working with videoclip makers, and then liasing with a lot of filmmakers for soundtracks. A lot of directors are very frustrated with the lack of creative control, which is where we thought we could come in – offering film-makers a complete creative control the same way we do with our sound artists. The technology has also become much cheaper

Is your own background in film?
Yeah, I worked my way up slowly from being a location manager, to various things, then I worked on a really big cult TV series over here – Phoenix 9, and started helping Warp out with various film projects, and then at some point I became full-time – thinking that what was happening here was a very different approach and very exciting compared to my other jobs. And I produced the Chris Morris DVD – My Wrongs.

How has that gone? ( Warpfilm’s first release )
Really well – we’ve sold 18,000 copies of it, which is really good for a DVD of a short film. You can make a small film and still get return. DVD’s are selling huge amounts over here now, and I think people are getting really good quality audio and visual set-ups at home, so it’s easier to get cutting edge AV out there, instead of trying to get it into the multiplexes. Film editors used to have to sell their soul to get things done, but that’s changing.

What are the parallels and differences between developments in audio and visual manipulation?
In some respects the video has been 10 years behind, but I think it’s all going to catch up and even out in the next 3-4 years. I think the secret is when things become consumer products – and now you’ve got Final Cut Pro as a fully functional edit suite on a home computer, which costs a fraction of what it would cost to before – I mean you can have a home studio now, develop your own ideas, spend a year in post production at home, and it’s not costing you a million pounds – and you’re away – there’s so much room for creativity now, it’s a really exciting time for film.

How does Warps’ curation of films relate to how it chooses music to release?

We’re a separate division really, so it’s just separate what we do. We’re certainly not going down the techno route or anything, not sci-fi or heavy on technology or post-production, just because we’ve released electronic music. Some of the artists are shooting on 16mm, and really I guess the way it relates is just because we share the same ethos of giving creative control. The Shane Meadows film we have coming up is just about raw, improvisational acting really.

What is Chris Cunningham doing with you now?
He’s at the final edit stage of a short film now, which should be finished in about 3 months, and this will be part of an overall DVD which will have a series of his shorts, and a whole range of collaborations – with the likes of Aphex Twin, some of Chris’s own music, and the DVD will be really groundbreaking – it’ll really let you play with it – you can play with the visuals, play with the music – it’s going to fully utilise the DVD technology.

Chris has always been doing a lot of projects, but not always seeing them through because of all of the what can be involved, so he liked the idea of doing something more with us where he had complete control.

Any news on his Neuromancer ( sci-fi novel by William Gibson ) feature?
Chris has been working on lots of other things outside of Warp, but I’m not sure where he’s at with Neuromancer at the moment to be honest.

Other potential Warpfilm directors are listed online as Asia Argento & Jarvis Cocker?
Well, yeah we’re just talking with them – Asia is interested, and Jarvis is such a good storyteller, I hope we can work something out with him.

What was your favourite clip of the warp-animate-comp clips?
Do you know the Pleix one where there are all these pigs in the boardroom? I really liked that one, because it was just so unusual.

The Warp Collection screens Tue July 29, & Morvern Callar (with a warp-fused soundtrack in the plot ( it’s a mixtape mystery )) on Sun July 27, Fri Aug 8
See www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au for booking details, and a fat collection of other movies, animations, experimental shorts and strange features.

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