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Topsy-Turvy (1999)

Mike Leigh

Born in Salford, Manchester, in 1943, Mike Leigh has developed a unique method of creating films through controlled improvisations. After his debut Bleak Moments (1971) he made a succession of admired TV plays, including Abigail's Party and Nuts in May. He then returned to feature films: High Hopes (1988), Life is Sweet (1990), Naked (1993). Secrets and Lies won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1996. Topsy-Turvy (1999) won two Oscars. All or Nothing followed in 2002. Since then he has made the Oscar-nominated Vera Drake (2004), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010). He also did Two Thousand Years for the National Theatre in 2005. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Amy Raphael

Amy Raphael was born in London in 1967. She has worked on The Face, NME, Elle and Esquire and now freelances for the Guardian, the Observer and The Times. Her first book, Never Mind the Bollocks: Women Rewrite Rock, was published by Virago in 1995. She conducted the conversations and edited Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh, which was published by Faber in 2008. She has also contributed to the The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock and Perfect Pitch, a series of books about football. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Mike Leigh on Mike Leigh

Faber and Faber, 2008

Book chapter

...London, January 1884. Writer W. S. Gilbert ( Jim Broadbent) and composer Sir Arthur Sullivan ( Allan Corduner) have enjoyed ten hit operas in a row. Their comic operas, produced by impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte (Ron Cook),...

What to do with a diva (what it means when an actor ‘acts out’)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...I have learned over the years to recognise signs of apparent ‘breakdown’ in actors (i.e. tears, rage, etc.) as the necessary consequence of an attempt to move beyond personal limits. By shedding the defence mechanisms that contribute...

Finding the ‘look’ (hair, make-up and costume)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...Appearance is mysterious. In the surface of things we can find both truth and lies; appearance can reveal or it can camouflage. The way someone looks, including what they wear, contains a wealth of detailed information that cannot...

Looking for happiness on set (an unreliable goal?)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...A film shoot, however exhilarating it may be, is often also a stressful, exhausting process for everyone concerned. The constant pressure of time – as time costs money – means little sleep and no rest. What I’ve come to realise...

Money (and other exchanges)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...Once the casting choices have been made in principle, the producers start to work on the deals with the actors’ agents. At this point, the distorting demon of money starts to come into play, too. Money is a live issue at every stage...

Casting (crossing the magic line)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...Here, and throughout this book, I am assuming that the choice of cast (and all other ‘creative’ decisions) ultimately rests with the director. This assumption is based on the largely European tradition of director-driven film-making...

Improvisation (finding freedom?)

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...Improvisation as a way of arriving at character and dialogue has a long and respected history in cinema. John Cassavetes’ hugely influential Shadows (1959) drew on the spirit of improvisation in jazz. The work of Mike Leigh is another...

Simon Abkarian

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...I first encountered Simon when he turned up for an audition in Paris for a small part as a gypsy in The Man Who Cried. When he entered the room I felt that his immediately powerful presence demanded a larger role, but the script...

Holding the space for the actor

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...Being the first audience The director must function as the first, most attentive, respectful and loving audience the actor will ever have. Even if you hope that you (or the writer) have already written a beautifully constructed part...

Blocking a scene

Sally Potter

Sally Potter is the award-winning writer/director of The Goldiggers, Orlando, The Tango Lesson, The Man Who Cried, Yes, Rage, and Ginger and Rosa. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Naked Cinema : Working with Actors

Faber & Faber, 2014

Book chapter

...All the director’s decisions about how a scene is shot, from which angles, and how the actors move through the scene, or remain static – in other words the physical map of how the scene unfolds in space and time – are aspects of the process...