Glen Falkenstein from FalkenScreen, Sydney filmmaker Chris Evans and freelance writer and critic Virat Nehru make up the Film Fight Club team, bringing you the latest in cinema releases every Wednesday night at 7:30pm. With the quarantine closing cinemas and new release movies grinding to a stand-still, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with the team and see how the show is adapting to suit the situation
What’s the usual format of the show?
GF: Normally we talk about new cinema releases. Sometimes we focus on a subject or talk about classic films, but the show is predominantly based around new releases and discussions of goings on in the film community in Sydney.
VN: But sometimes we completely abandon that and talk about whatever we want.
GF: We like to focus on the local Festival scene and support new initiatives.
VN: And put a spotlight on the new and emerging art scene in Sydney.
With the cinemas closed, what have you been discussing on Film Fight Club these last few episodes??
G: We’ve been covering how the industry has been adapting, new trends and initiatives in the wake of COVID-19. We’ve been watching how existing Film Festivals have moved into the online space and trying to draw attention to newly emerging online film spaces that have popped up. We’ve also asked listeners for recommendations for subjects to discuss.
CE: Just recently we’ve been focusing on Directors’ filmographies.
VN: We can do long-form and in-depth discussions of director’s filmographies which we otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do in our regular time slot.
CE: Nor would we have the time to watch as many movies as we do for these extended episodes.
VN: It’s a positive for the show in some ways, giving us more time to do things we otherwise wouldn’t have done.
GF: We’ve never covered pre-70’s cinema before this!
CE: And it’s something we’ve been saying we’d do for a long time, to focus on stuff we really love, instead of always talking about new movies, that half the time we’re not interested in.
CE: A Howard Hawks retrospective sprung it all off, since then we’ve looked at Peter Weir, Tim Burton and Billy Wilder.
GF: We’re also looking at some of the classics available on streaming platforms, and we plan to cover their new films as well.
CE: SBS gave us a nice focus on 70’s films, so that got us to.
VN: We just stole their idea.
How have you been recording the show in isolation?
CE: We’re all using the magic of Zoom meetings and the record button.
GF: We’re getting so much feedback, now! We’re getting feedback from each other!
VN: We used to get none. Now we finally launched our social media page, and we talk over dodgy connections, so we’re getting feedback on two fronts!
GF: It’s nice that we can see each other’s faces. It adds a lot to the ability to communicate.
VN: We can see each other’s attempts to be funny.
CE: And it’s nice to be able to do hand signals.
GF: Until the screen freezes. We try.
Has it been challenging to adapt the show for home recording rather than all together at the studio?
GF: Finding the right platform was tough at first, until we settled on Zoom.
CE: Like everyone else seems to have, and like everyone else, NBN slow downs have been the big limitation we’ve been dealing with.
GF: I for the first time have a relatively regular home audience. My roommates can hear what I’m saying and get a sneak peek of the show.
VN: They realise you’re a crazy cinephile.
CE: It’s also changed the show – we’ve done long episodes in the past, but now we’ve entered the truly self-indulgent stage, where episodes are usually 3 hours.
VN: I feel like the lack of time constraints means that it’s a lot more free flowing, and we’re more accomodating of each other than we otherwise would be.
CE: Don’t get me wrong, I definitely prefer the energy of recording in person, but in some ways the show is better now.
VN: The three hours feels like the perfect amount of time, to talk about all the things we want to say. When we’re planning the show, we always think, ‘this will just take five minutes, we have nothing to say about this,’ but then we start talking and it turns out we have a lot of opinions.
GF: Also, while I do prefer recording in person, the logistics between travel and set-up that are reduced by this format…
CE: Travel time is more speaking time.
VN: Getting from the office to the studio on time is a nightmare.
GF: With the extra capacity we have space for more detail and analysis per episode, and we have more energy.
VN: But less Red Bull. That’s an upside or a downside, depending on perspective.
CE: I’ve become more reliant on caffeine under quarantine, weirdly enough. Maybe because I can’t go out to do stuff to pep me up.
V: I miss the pre-recording 7/11 ritual. That was nice.
CE: Yeah, I do too.
VN: But I don’t miss coming from bloody Barangaroo to the station in peak hour traffic.
GF: We can go late if we want to, because the bed’s right there.
VN: That’s the biggest benefit. Letting the episodes go as long as they want isn’t a strain.
CE: And we can start at 7:30 in the morning, for example, something we’d only do during Sydney Film Festival.
GF: I do miss the energy of doing live episodes, which has an energy and slight adrenaline to it that changes the nature of discussion. I think it’s still very active.
CE: It will be nice to go back and do live again.
VN: Just for the thrill of it and the danger. Touching other things that other people have touched.
What have been your own isolation watching habits? Re-watching old favourites? Getting to things you have been meaning to?
GF: The nature of what’s going on has changed the nature of the films I usually watch. Its not just that I wouldn’t watch movies like ‘Contagion,’ about disasters. I’m more inclined to watch happier, upbeat films.
CE: I’ve been watching a lot of light comedies as well actually.
VN: The Tim Burton re-watch really drew attention to the pleasures of an easy watch. We could breeze through his whole filmography really easily. There’s no strain.
GF: It’s not just what the listeners want, but also what we want right now. I’m so good for it.
VN: I think that applies to a lot of people. I don’t think we want heavy cinema at the moment. I don’t want to be intellectually engaged.
GF: I don’t mind being light right now. I just don’t need heavy.
VN: Everything is such an emotional burden already that you don’t want to add to that with heavy cinema.
CE: Although, something that’s so heavy that you’re drawn in, like ‘Chinatown,’ I found to be a really good distraction. Or ‘The Conversation.’ Something that’s really involving.
VN: I wouldn’t call that heavy – just something that’s so immersive that I can forget my environment.
GF: On that note, I saw ‘Wake in Fright’ for the first time, and I was stoked.
CE: Being quarantined with family has meant lots of re-watches, because I’m being asked for recommendations.
VN: Yeah, same. My dad has been drawn into watching foreign cinema now!
CE: I’ve actually done more re-watches than I usually do.
VN: I’ve had the time to re-watch a lot of Festival films. During that run, they used to melt together in your brain into one marathon film.
CE: And they deserve more space.
VN: Re-watching critically appraised films, like ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Synonyms,’ ‘Uncut Gems,’ has solidified them into great films, now that I’ve had the time to appreciate them, giving them the space they deserve.
Whats been the highlights of your lockdown viewing?
GF: Mostly the 40’s, 50’s films we’ve been covering. Also, Saturday night I have two viewing sessions. My sixth session is coming around. Early Saturday night, get together with a few friends on Zoom and watching trashy, dumb , mindless movies, then later in the evening with other friends I watch a happy, sweet movie, like a musical. We’re hoping to keep this going for quite a while.
VN: I really enjoyed revisiting the Bond films. Also seeing ‘Master and Commander.’
CE: I really loved watching ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Chinatown.’
GF: ‘Master and Commander’ and ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ Reminded me of how much I enjoyed first seeing them, and they drew me into their worlds.
CE: We’re all looking forward to re-watching Billy Wilder films for our next episode now.
Anything you wish you hadn’t watched?
GF: I’m glad I haven’t re-watched ‘Contagion,’ as everyone’s been urging me to. Maybe ‘Tiptoes.’
CE: A film with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale.
VN: I’m in, you just had to say
GF: That’s what I thought. But… terrible.
What’s the first rule of Film Fight Club?
GF: We had rules and we ditched them.