BEAT, 23min., UK
Directed by Christopher Karallis
Beat looks into the world of Saul Eisenberg, musician and performer who turns the discarded junk of our city into instruments that make unique and beautiful sounds.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I came across Saul when we moved back to London after eighteen years living in the USA. We were temporarily staying with my sister and the back of her house looked out onto a typical London back alley running behind a row of high street shops and rental flats punctuated by overflowing rubbish bins, garage lock ups and the constant hum of industrial extractor fans. It was also my short-cut to the park when I walked the dogs. Passing one of the double garages at the start of the mews I was frozen by a beautiful, lyrical, scale suddenly bursting into life seemingly out of nowhere. It sounded something like a Glockenspiel only more resonant, deeper in pitch and tone with a sound that penetrated my core. I realized the sound was drifting out from the half open door of one of the lock-ups. It stopped suddenly only to be replaced by the explosive whir of a power tool as an angle grinder cut against metal for several seconds. The contrast was stark. I poked my head under the garage door rather awkwardly to find Saul, a friendly, bemused smile on his face, filthy blue overalls, safety goggles pushed high up on his head standing over a series of heavy metal poles cut to various lengths. "I'm sorry but I just had to ask what you're doing in here, that sound is...?" I wasn't quite sure how to finish the sentence. Saul took the uninvited intrusion with warmth and good grace, telling me that he was making a "scaffold-a-phone" out of discarded scaffold poles. I was stunned. How could something so industrial and brutal sound so lovely. I peered around the lock up which was packed with spent gas tanks, fire extinguishers, old decking and even flip flops that had all been salvaged and turned into percussion instruments that, I would come to discover, all sounded not only beautiful but absolutely unique. A type of alchemy was occurring under our very noses and barely anyone knew about it. I realized immediately that I had to tell the story of the remarkable things Saul was doing with the discarded junk of our city and how his work is an inspiration to children, parents, musicians and anyone lucky enough to come into contact with his work.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took about 14 months. The bulk of filming took place over 8 months with the rest of the time taken by editing and sound mixing.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Budget! Having to do the bulk of the shooting, directing and producing myself was very testing at times and led to some aching limbs at the end of shooting days. After that I guess it was working around Saul's very busy and fluid schedule. I felt it was important that me and the camera to have as little influence on Saul and his process as possible, so absolutely nothing was contrived or repeated, I simply got what I got! Oh, and shooting good B-Roll, no matter how much I shot I always wanted more in the editing room.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Honestly it choked me up. Making movies requires a huge investment of time, effort, money and most of all belief. You dip into that emotional well and when someone takes the time to watch your film and give their feedback one can't help but feel humbled, privileged and proud.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I've always wanted to tell stories, film was a massive part of my life growing up, it was how we related as a family particularly my father who had an unparalleled passion for the silver screen. I guess the first time I felt I wanted to actually make films was in my early teens obsessing over Hollywood cinema and films like "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Chinatown", "Raging Bull", "The Apartment" and "Taxi Driver" as well as world cinema greats like Fellini, Bergman and Kurosawa. Westerns were also huge for me from John Ford to Sergio Leone to the current crop.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Gosh that's a tough one. I watch most films I like multiple times and even some I don't like! Possibly one of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western trilogy or Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" simply because it was on every Christmas and it had to be watched and enjoyed or maybe "Some Like It Hot" which never fails to make me happy.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I guess helping to create a credible network. You want your film to be seen and appreciated by the public but you also want to make another film which means you want your film to be seen by people who can help you do that, be they producer, financer, actor or other creatives. It's tough though because there are so many festivals and only so much time.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
10. What is your favorite meal?
My mother's meatballs, huge Greek Salad and all the family sitting around a table talking and laughing... or egg and chips.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Ah the eternal question. What next? Who knows? A new film would be lovely, I have several things in development and of course I'm always writing. Nothing on the documentary horizon as of yet but if I'm drawn to something I would certainly do it again. I'd like to direct more. I'm always available for hire lol.