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23rd October 2015
Cut and run
Title of film: BFI, Film is Fragile
Director: Carl Addy
Production Company: Mill+
Mill+ director Carl Addy talks about piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle using footage from some of the best films in British cinema

Where to begin… in fact where did you begin? Were you given a detailed brief or were you involved in the concept development from the start?

The BFI approached us because they wanted to put together a film to showcase what they’re all about, primarily a commitment to the preservation of film. Although fundraising is a huge part of this, their mission statement also involves raising awareness, exhibiting films, education.

Our brief was very open, but we quickly whittled down to the idea of film and story telling and the importance of this for cultural and even emotional reasons. The finished product, being a quite dramatic and tense spot, just happens to have perfectly worked as a call to action with regards to fundraising.

There’s a wonderful, and very appropriate, sense of urgency – what was your criteria for selecting the stock footage?

First and foremost we were determined that we were not going to create yet another film montage, it had a real purpose to it and we wanted to reflect that urgency – the longer we leave a problem the worse it becomes, and we need to be one step ahead at all times. This constant, vigilant attention and passion is what the BFI does so well.

The idea of showing a chase sequence came easily, it is a classic cinematic trope that there was a wealth of material for in the BFI’s archives. Our approach was somewhat unconventional, normally we would storyboard extensively before looking at material but we had to be a lot more flexible.

Finally, it was important to us that the film would strike a chord with viewers, so we tried to use iconic films – using a mixture of independent and blockbuster, classic and contemporary clips.

Great editing of the sequences – was that done at The Mill? It must have been a joy when scenes happily linked together or was that all planned out in detail?

All of the editing was done in-house at The Mill, and the process of piecing together the different scenes was certainly a great labour of research. It was just like putting together a puzzle: parts would work together but then you had to connect these to other parts, whilst still staying true to the main idea.

Please tell us about creating the sci-fi, apocalyptic effects? Any major challenges?

Again, there was a lot of research that went into this, and the Mill+ team created its own custom animation. Our focus in applying the VFX was that this was much like a storm – growing bigger and bigger the longer it was left. A mixture of 3D programmes, after-effects, flame and compositing was used for this process.

Anything else you’d like to share?

This project for the BFI was a fantastic opportunity for Mill+ to work on something that represents an area of culture that we as a company feel so passionate about. It makes the work so much more personal, and it’s nice that we can support something that directly affects our industry.