“You need to have ambition”
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Rupert Lloyd • Producer, Noor Pictures
by Marta Bałaga
Cineuropa chatted with British producer Rupert Lloyd of Noor Pictures, selected as one of EFP’s 2020 Producers on the Move
Founder of Noor Pictures, Rupert Lloyd achieved success with the company’s very first feature, Theeb [+see also:
interview: Naji Abu Nowar
film profile] directed by Naji Abu Nowar, it was recognised with a BAFTA and an Academy Award nomination. And yet he shows no signs of slowing down, with new titles by Nowar and Billy Lumby in development at Film4 and BBC Films. Cineuropa chatted with him, now selected as one of EFP’s 2020 Producers on the Move.
Cineuropa: You started out as an editor, just like your Producers on the Move colleague, Marie Kjellson. And you actually edited the first feature you have ever produced!
Rupert Lloyd: I also happened to cut all of Naji’s stuff prior to Theeb. It’s all storytelling, isn’t it? I think it has been a real asset: I understand post-production and the mechanics of putting the story together, know what it means to work closely with the director. There is a lot of diplomacy that’s needed in the cutting room. Obviously you don’t get much insight into the business side, but luckily you can learn that later.
It’s rare to experience such success right away. Does it help when you know your director so well, now that you have two more films in the pipeline [Young Stalin and The Last of the Gentlemen Adventurers]?
With Naji, we have known each other for many, many years. We have the same goals and a similar taste. It differs from project to project, but I am quite involved in the development and on Young Stalin I have also been the co-writer. It’s collaboration in the true sense of the word.
The thing is, Theeb wasn’t just a movie – it was a life-changing experience. We lived in the desert, the Bedouins were part of the cast and the crew, we shot in remote locations, the lead was a child and we worked with animals – it was all the things you are told not to do. You always hope your film will be well-received, going to A-list festivals and maybe even beyond. But we just wanted to make something great. Later, we took the Bedouins to the Oscars and to Venice Film Festival – they have never seen so much water!
Do you think people are more open to doing multiple things on set, instead of focusing on one specific role?
I am not sure what caused it, but cameras are cheap and you can easily get editing software, so everyone is learning faster. I am not someone who believes you have to do just one thing, saying: “I am a producer and I am just going to produce.” When opportunity comes, embrace it! I was a co-writer, an editor – who knows what I will do next? Hopefully things will go back to normal soon, so that we can keep on planning new adventures.
Adventures that now have to take place online, like this year’s edition of Producers on the Move.
So much business is conducted online anyway, so it doesn’t seem too out of ordinary. Regardless of where it’s held, it’s a valid piece of promotion and networking for any producer. I am very grateful it’s going ahead, because it’s a privilege to be selected and it would be a shame to miss out. I am gearing out to finance my next two projects, so it’s a perfect timing. And a novelty – before COVID-19, I have never even heard of Zoom! We will all take a break from the hustle and bustle of Cannes. There will be less distractions and less alcohol.
You got to work on The Hurt Locker as the post-production assistant, too. Would you like to produce films on that scale in the future?
Absolutely. My next film, Young Stalin, is very ambitious. It’s a historical drama about the transformation of Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili into Joseph Stalin, told through the framework of the most audacious heist of the 20th century – Stalin was a gangster and a bank robber before he was a politician. I like films with a bigger scope: I love David Lean and Peter Weir. My company is very much taste-driven, I like ‘outsider’ stories, cinematic and experiential, and to connect with an idea – like Billy Lumby’s project, about a young man diagnosed with schizophrenia coming to terms with the voices in his head. I have a friend who hears voices, so it’s close to my heart. I am using my company to make films I want to see, I suppose. But I definitely aspire to make epic movies and you could see that in Theeb as well.
You seem to have a lot of love for this “retro” approach. But people are afraid of loosing money nowadays, hesitant to spend unless it’s an established franchise.
I love retro. It’s undoubtedly a much bigger challenge, but I am trying to scale up incrementally. You just have to be smart about where you shoot to get the most for your money, trying to make something look bigger than it actually is. I think we will achieve that on the Young Stalin. You need to have ambition, right? And also, these things change. Streaming platforms are backing riskier films, or what might be deemed as such. I think there is a space for it, if you do it well.
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