The People Behind The Film
We invited the Above the Waist writers/producers/actors, Andrew Koji and Dominic Coates, to our office to come and shoot the breeze, chew the fat, confabulate and just answer our damn questions. It’s immediately apparent that this duo makes a great creative team. They also happen to be flatmates, who pass the time improvising scenes. Here, they tell us a bit about how ‘Above the Waist’ came about.
It all came about through an improvisation.
When playing around with different scenes to ‘sharpen their tools’, Andrew and Dominic discovered a story that resonated. They started to discuss this story in more depth and Andrew then developed this into a script.
They had the film ready to shoot in a couple of months. Having initially explored different ideas, they ultimately went with their gut instincts and, after getting good reactions on the script, there was no stopping them… Well except for the mate who backed out.
But that did not stop these guys from pressing forward! They decided to invest in it themselves. Not just financially but with lots of energy, time and creativity. They knew that other people wouldn’t have “the same heart.”
As long as we capture the performances on the day…it will make the story real.
They did not have the budget to film big cinematic panning scenes but, as it turned out, the lack of budget and resources became more of a blessing than a problem. As Dominic put it: “…limitation means you have to be creative.” A positive attitude to lack of funds? Disgraceful. So having overcome the funding obstacle, and quite a few others, we wanted to know if they were ever unsure of the subject matter. Were they worried about accusations that they were making fun of disability?
The improvisation and the funniness of the situation came first.
At first they were just exploring but once they realised the gravity of the topic they did some research. During the process of making the film they realised that the theme of the film was ultimately about self-acceptance.
So the seeds for this film germinated around the beginning of the year and by July the film was ready for screening. We wanted to know what they’d learned along the way and if they could share any advice to other filmmakers and actors embarking on a career on-screen.
Ask yourself: Why do you want to make this film?
So their advice for beginning filmmakers is that you’ve got to try and tap into your own style and decide why you personally want to make a film. It has to come from a genuine place. With a good story, sound and truth – no matter the quality of your equipment – you should still produce a great film.
It also helps if you are able to understand the position of other artists. Find out what it takes to be a director as well as what it takes to be an actor (or vice-versa). Then you can respect each other’s strengths.
We needed someone with an outside eye to communicate with us.
They hired a director, but kept the overall crew small and intimate so they were able to account for each person on set. One of their tips to keep the cast and crew happy is to feed them. And Dominic, it seems, is a bit of a master chef. This film, like all good films, was created in an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual respect. So we leave them giving credit where credit’s due.
We really enjoyed talking with these two and hope that they are going to continue working together to produce more great stuff. Talking of which, they do have another project in development. To quote Andrew: “Bigger. Better. We need more money. Support us.”