The ‘difficult nut to crack’ perception of the UK film industry is a tricky one to nudge when our field of vision is flooded with stories of talented film-makers, directors, actors and more going unnoticed and unsupported. New indie Brit-flick Broken Lines however, is here to break the mould.
A heart-warming, ‘triumph over adversity’ type tale, writers Doraly Rosa and Dan Fredenburgh had the brainwave for the film while script-reading for ‘another-Jewish-film-set-in-London.’ Never having put pen to paper before, the duo quickly hatched a friendship and an award-winning screenplay followed fast. After a particularly successful 2010 on the festival circuit and several months of lengthy red tape, Broken Lines is now set to hit our silver-screens.
In the film, writers and stars Dan and Doraly form separate halves of two couples; B (Rose), a waitress whose partner (Paul Bettany) has recently been handicapped and Jake (Fredenburgh) whose recent family fatality and impending wedding are putting increasing strain on his relationship. A fraught and tense tale of ‘not always getting what you want’ the audience is pushed and pulled through Dan and Doraly’s immersive and emotionally volatile illicitness.
Having spent four years focussed on getting the flick the attention it deserves, i-D online spoke to writer-cum-producer-cum-star-of-the-show Doraly Rosa about the process and making a Jewish film that isn’t about being Jewish…
Broken Lines has been a while in the making could you tell us about where it all began… Almost four years back, Dan and I were improvising together for a director working on a film about contemporary Jewish Londoners. We were working together for months and then they came back having wrote this kind of caper version called ‘Get Mosher.’ They then disappeared and so Dan and I, never having written before, decided to write our own version. Then people responded to it really well and before we knew it we were on the road to getting it made. We had an amazing producer come on and put the money behind it and an amazing cast, as you can see and it was just kind of miraculous. To keep being told that you can’t get films made in this country and that it would never happen, there was a determination to keep moving it forward.
It sounds like it was all very natural… Ultimately we were looking at ourselves and our friends in London and just at perspectives that each of us had. Dan was approaching it from this idea of having what you want and still not being satisfied. And I came at it from the angle of feeling really stuck and trapped and defining that in a story. Ultimately people talk about trying to set themselves free but who actually does it and what is the catalyst that pushes that to happen? That’s what I was interested in and that’s what I wanted to explore more.
Those two different approaches are then reflected in the characters you each play in the film and the relationships you are each part of. How separate was the writing process for each of those two story lines? It was a hundred percent collaborative. On the whole it was a case of going through it together and working through our ideas and then writing them down.
With the script being so personal to yourself and Dan was it difficult to adjust to the creative input of other people? I always say to Dan the whole process has been like having a university degree in film-making but then Dan’s like “No, it’s more like a PhD” which is amazing. Everyone has brought their strengths and what was amazing for us was having these scripts that we’d had in our minds for so long, become this vision that we never could’ve imagined. It’s been incredible watching the whole thing grow.
Do you have plans to continue writing together? We’ve been through so much on this film that we’re currently just doing our own things. Dan’s writing something and I’ve written something on my own also. I think my challenge to myself was to see if we could do it separately.
Could you explain the role played by London in the film? We chose to set it in Finsbury Park because we wanted to reflect the city’s multiculturalism but also we wanted somewhere that had Jewish background. So often in contemporary cinema, Jewish people are such a stereotype or a caricature and we wanted to show the reality of secular Jews in London and how interspersed the community really is. We are so diverse in London and we are so mixed-up and it doesn’t need to be discussed it’s just there…
What was your experience of getting through the labyrinthine challenge of making an independent film in the UK? I was told it was problematic and I didn’t want to listen to it. I kept just telling myself, “It doesn’t matter we’ll just push through it.” There is a massive lack of finance in indie film-making and without the money you’re pretty much screwed, there’s so many costs that you can’t anticipate.
What advice would you give to people who are in a similar position to the one you were in four years ago? I would just say you have to be a force of nature and you have to believe in what you’re doing because there are going to be so many obstacles and so many naysayers in your way. As well as meeting some amazing people who will serendipitously come along and help you, you have to have that clear ambition that this will get done and not take no for an answer. And that brilliant Winston Churchill quote of ‘Never, never, never, never give up,” I think that’s been the banner in front of our eyes throughout. And we’re by no means done yet, for the distribution phase now we’re still reaching out and pushing it.
And what’s next for you? Writing, producing, starring… All of the above. I’ve got several projects in various stages of development. My acting is my heart and that’s what I’m focussed at the moment.
Broken Lines hits screens from today, September 30th.
Text: Sean Baker