We catch up with the director of the award winning mockumentary PSYCHOANALYSIS to see how he's been getting on since the films world premiere at MANIFF 2016.
Paul Symmonds is the country's top suicide prevention specialist. But when five of his clients commit suicide within a one week period his reputation is thrown into question.
He arranges for a documentary crew to follow him around as he attempts to prove his clients were actually murdered by a rival psych who wants the top spot for himself.
MANIFF - How important are film festivals for independent filmmakers?
James Raue - Film Festivals are incredibly important for independent filmmakers. But the festival game has completely changed in the last few years. Now, everyone has the opportunity to make a film so it's much harder to make it into the huge festivals. Those festivals don't really seem like a home for independent filmmakers anymore as you need big names behind you to even be considered. There was a recent article written showing just how little of their programs are selected from those who pay submission fees, very unsettling. BUT we're in an exciting time where newer festivals are popping up that still program from blind submissions and are genuinely finding independent gems. The industry is slowly realising this is where the new talent is and hopefully film festivals will once again become the great hubs for artists that they once were.
MANIFF - How was your MANIFF experience?
JR - MANIFF was amazing. My very first film festival I've attended as a filmmaker and it was the perfect place for my premiere. Everybody from the volunteers up to the programmers and directors were incredibly friendly, down to earth people who genuinely love films and filmmakers. The screening facilities were state of the art, the town was vibrant and the hospitality wonderful. My girlfriend saw snow falling from the sky for the first time (rare in Australia), so it's been the highlight of our festival travel so far.
MANIFF - How was the process of directing a film for the first time?
JR - It was difficult, but not as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. As long as you trust your crew to do their jobs and build the best cast around your script then you'll be fine. I think more writers should direct. It's not some magical skill, it's merely having a vision, selling everyone else on that vision and then letting your team run with it and make it into a film. The most difficult thing about it is the pressure, because you're in charge of the ship, you have to deliver or everyone hates you forever.
MANIFF - Where did the idea for the script come from?
JR - I've been surrounded by psychologists my entire life. I grew up when TV psychologists like Dr Phil were becoming popular, so any little problem and psychology was seen as a way to fix it. So I hated psychologists. Then my girlfriend became a psychologist and I was able to see things from the other side of the couch. I saw the pressure they're under and the stakes in their lives if they fail with a client. I also saw the dark sense of humour they need to develop in order to deal with mental illness each day. So when time came to think up an idea for a feature, I was immediately drawn to that world. I wanted to come up with a character who was both comedic and tragic at the same time, so a psychologist who thinks he's the best in the world, but all his clients keep killing themselves was the thing that came to mind.
MANIFF - Why and when did you decide to make psychoanalysis into a mockumentary?
JR - When I came up with the idea I was making sketches with friends and they were all mockumentary in nature. One of us would come up with a crazy character and then the other would interview them on camera. So that was just the natural way I envisioned showcasing that character. I wanted a director to be able to directly question why he thinks he's the best psychologist in the world when all the evidence points against it. I also new that in order to make the film for USD 10,000 I wouldn't be able to light any shots or set up complex blocking, so the documentary format was perfect
MANIFF - What is the future for psychoanalysis?
JR - So far we've screened at festivals across the UK and the US. We've won lots of awards so far and have been astounded at the reception such a small film is getting. We're now waiting to hear about when our L.A premiere will be as well as our Australia premiere and release.
MANIFF - Finally, is there anything you’re working on?
JR - Yes! I wrote a feature film called, The Pretend One, about an imaginary friend who's trying to become real in order to win the love of the woman who created him. It was directed last year by Tony Prescott and is currently in post production. You can watch the trailer here...
I'm also talking to several production companies and agents about my next feature, Chasing Shadows. A comedy-drama about an elderly man who believes his wife has been abducted by aliens and his skeptical daughter who must try to convince him that her mother has simply divorced him and moved on. The script was recently trending on The Blacklist website and has been compared to Nebraska and Safety Not Guaranteed.
Our third addition will take place at the vibrant Odeon Printworks, AMC Manchester Great Northern Warehouse and the Greater Manchester Chamber of commerce.