Ohna Falby has a knack of producing incredible short films. She’s just set up new company, Life To Live Films, but before that she produced through Sister Films, the company she partnered with director Daniel Mulloy. Sister produced 6 shorts, which all had outstanding festival runs and received critical praise internationally, including BAFTA and BIFA wins and a European Academy Award nomination. In February 2012, BC Film will support Ohna to attend the Euro-Connection Forum at Clermont-Ferrand as the invited UK producer.
Ohna Falby, award-winning Short Film Producer
What's your connection to the British Council?
My connection was initially all via email. They supported all of the short films I made with Daniel Mulloy through Sister Films. They helped us by sending lists of which important festivals to apply to, reminding us of deadlines and opportunities within Europe to apply for. They also helped us both with print traffic & costs to produce prints, as well as helping cover many of the festival trips over the years to places such as Sundance and Brazil. I think Clermont-Ferrand 2006 (or 2007) is the first time I actually went to a festival myself, and was where I met the team in the flesh. They were friendly and approachable and worked hard to make me feel informed and included in the events. I had an amazing experience at that festival - we had two films in competition that year, and met filmmakers and industry people who will remain great friends and future collaborators. This year, they put me forward to represent the UK at the Clermont-Ferrand Euro Connection 2012 forum and are covering the costs of me going out there. It is a great opportunity for me to connect with my fellow producers from Europe. I will aim to promote collaboration between UK producers and our European counterparts. I would love to see change within some of the UKs policies, and would love to learn how we could become more a part of European film initiatives & institutions (Eurimages for instance) set up to help and fund filmmakers.
Your Current Projects?
Between producing commercials, I am currently promoting and sending out my latest short film Long Distance Information (written and directed by Douglas Hart) to festivals. I have a few shorts projects stewing and I am also developing a feature project. It is a novel adaptation focussing on a young woman's struggle to stand on her own two feet, following a very dysfunctional childhood: her mother having a serious mental illness and her father unwilling to stick around.
What / Who originally turned you onto film?
My father was a commercials director who made directing seem like the funnest thing on earth; driving cars off the cliffs of the Adriatic, filming under water in the blue blue waters of Guadeloupe, bringing home free crates of kit kats for birthday parties. My father and mother were both big film buffs. The soundtrack of my childhood was Nino Rota, Mancini, Francis Lai, Midnight Cowboy. I grew up in Paris where going to the cinema was something we regularly did twice a week as it was both cheap and there were so many cinemas. I remember the excitement when each new Bond film came out as clearly as the thrill of going to see the old Hitchcocks, Truffauts, Fellini & Godard. I was shocked when I came to the US & the UK and discovered that if you didn't watch a film within a week or so of it coming out, that was it missed! There is also my filmmaking and film studies teachers (Mr Levine & Mr Peretz) at Sarah Lawrence College in New York as they exposed me to the types of films I never would have seen in the cinema, and taught me how to watch films in a way that enabled me to experience new depths and pleasures beyond the appreciation of a good story that comes to life. There I discovered the likes of Maya Deren, Luis Buñuel, Eisenstein, Stan Brakhage as well as the often surprising and eclectic works of my fellow students there. I discovered what you could do with a 16mm bolex, a super 8mm camera and little splicers and a bit of glue in the dark rooms of 'the pit' available to film students 24/7.
What has been your career high?
I'm finding this one hard to answer as it's not winning the awards, or working with any of my film 'heroes', or anything like that. What comes to mind just now was showing my before last short film Baby to the sixth form students at Camden School for Girls, being immersed in their reactions and feeling my daughter's pride at watching it with her peers. Not sure why, but maybe it's about sharing your achievements with the ones you love.
What was your first job in the film industry?
If the commercials world counts as the film industry, I guess it would have to be the acting roles I was 'coerced' into doing for my father as a child. He cast me in a 'Baby Dim' tights commercial, where I had to roller skate in a little tartan mini skirt under the watchful eye of David Hamilton, bump into the 'hero girl', fall over & kick my legs in the air. Crikey! On top of that my real clothes were then stolen while we were filming (my favourite OshKosh dungarees) and I had to go home in the stupid skirt. Later I was allowed to work as a runner, which I adored, and think is where I had some of my happiest and biggest learning curves within the industry. My first runner job when I was 16 was for a Lancia car commercial featuring Catherine Deneuve. My job was to receive her when she arrived and take her straight to her winnebago to get her ready. She was over 4 hours late, and when she finally arrived I told her off very earnestly! I soon learned. My first film job was straight out of uni, working as a runner on Half Moon Street, a film with Michael Caine & Sigourney Weaver. The experience wasn't entirely positive for me, and it put me off working on films for over 15 years. It was meeting and working with Daniel Mulloy in 2002 that reignited the fire and drew me back in.
If I knew then what I know now...
Believe in yourself, know your goals, and make the choices that are bravest (generally not easiest) and most focussed on achieving what really matters to you. It really doesn't matter how long you take, just enjoy the journey and be good to people along the way, as you'll find the journey itself matters so much more than getting there.
What is your favourite British film? Why?
Let's see: Harold & Maude isn't British is it, so maybe A Matter Of Life & Death, Lawrence Of Arabia, Brief Encounter. It doesn't matter how many times you see those films or what age group you show them to.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made...
Vivre Sa Vie - it would have been amazing to be directing then, there, those people in that way.
What’s the first film you remember seeing? What was so memorable about it?
I'm pretty sure it was Bambi. Everything about it was memorable - the characters, the ice-skating on a frozen lake, losing his mama.... ah the tears!
What’s your favourite line or scene from a film? Why?
Favourite scene is either the ballroom scene in Cimino's Heaven's Gate or the wedding singing scene in The Deer Hunter (Christopher Walken singing Oh Baby baby...). Favourite Line? Some Like It Hot's "Well, nobody's perfect!" makes for a perfect ending to great film..
Favourite screen kiss? Why?
Spaghetti slurping kiss in Lady and The Tramp.
Who’s your favourite screen hero and/or villain? Why?
Creepiest Villain I guess would be Martin Sheen as the pervert in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (with Jodie Foster who was amazing age 13 or so!). Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life can be my hero.
Who would play you in the film about your life? Why?
According to my husband & daughters it's a toss up between Chloe Sevigny & Jennifer Aniston