Hello Members of ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE! Welcome to what I hope to be the first of many posts. Here I get one of you fine people to talk about, you guessed it, your favourite film. We all have one – a film that we cherish with fond memories, we repeatedly watch and one we suggest to all our friends, a film that may have even led some of us down the path to working in the film industry. What better person to start with than Lily Streames. Actor, Producer and Director, Lily is also the Founder and Director of ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE; it is because of her that we are here, able to connect with other people in the industry that live in Essex and help bring our passion projects to life. It is also because of her that I am doing what I love, watching films and ranting about them, so without further ado, here is Lily and her favourite film.
Their Favourite Film -Lily Streames – Blue Valentine
Blue Valentine was the first film that really ignited my passion and interest in filmmaking. I was 14 when I first watched the film; as a budding young actor I was entranced by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling’s performance. Their chemistry is so raw and intoxicating, it left me in a whirlwind of feeling that is stirring even now as I think back to some of their most powerful scenes. I remember watching it over and over and spending nights researching how they worked to portray such a detailed relationship. The film was shot in two parts – the building of the relationship and the breaking down of the relationship.
In the middle of these parts, Michelle and Ryan lived together for some time with the actress playing their young daughter. They lived as a family and spent time recording family home videos. Director Derek Cianfrance wanted to create a truthful and real depiction – ‘We weren’t rehearsing the script but we were just building memories… They would have to do their own dishes, and every morning they would get up and work out together. They would paint the dog house and go fishing, and we would pretend it was their daughter’s birthday and so Ryan and Michelle had to make her a birthday cake and go shopping for her. We just tried to build all these memories that a family would really have.’
As a young actor and a future filmmaker, it taught me that creating and working didn’t have to fit a formula. It is a film I will always hold close to my heart, and I am thankful for how it influenced me as an actor and creative.
What was your favourite scene?
I would say my favourite scene is the initial meeting scene where they get to know each other, the scene was mostly improvised, and it shows in the natural feel of it.
I have to be honest and say that while I tend to watch all sorts of genres, from musicals to horror, romance and dramas have never been one of my favourites to watch, and I tend to avoid them. So imagine my predicament to find the first film for this blog is what appears to be a romantic drama (cue dramatic sound effect). However, despite my minor scepticism, I enjoyed this film. I would say it’s not a classic ‘romance’ film; it’s a raw and unflinching look at married life in today’s society and how relationships can change quickly. It starts off passionate and fun (with a tap dance scene involving a ukulele that makes you smile) but jump to the present, and it’s now a relationship filled with tension and resentment. While you can still see sparks of love between them, you can feel it’s just one step away from it all crashing down.
Despite me going on about how sad and depressing this film is, it’s still a great movie to watch. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams gave terrific performances as the couple Derek and Cindy and had great chemistry between them, and knowing the effort they went through to build it before the filming, it’s obvious why. The added improv of them just having actions rather than lines made it feel more natural, like watching a documentary instead of a scripted film. The cinematography is also a thing of beauty, with Derek Cianfrance and Andrij Prekh changing the camera work with the flashback scenes being handheld 16mm, and the present scenes are steadier and tightly shot with a RED camera. I saw this as a representation of Derek and Cindy’s relationship, how it’s free-flowing and feels more alive when watching, but when we watch the scenes of the present, the camera work is sharper with close up shots given you the cold claustrophobic feeling that there must have felt in that relationship. Overall, this film should probably not be watched by young couples, but it is a beautifully performed and shot film that I highly recommend.
Derek Cianfrance was inspired to write this film after the divorce of his parents. He was saddened by it so much that he wanted to do a film that could help him figure out what lead to it. He then spent the next 12 years working on the script and doing documentaries to secure the funding.
Chris Roberts has worked on many film projects across Essex as a boom operator and production assistant. Chris is a full time film trivia expert!
Lily Streames is the Founder and Director of ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE. She is an Actor, Director and Producer working across theatre, film and radio.