RETRIBUTION DIRECTOR CHRISTINE EDWARDS “I am a big believer in research being the key to an authentic performance”

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We caught up with Retribution director Christine Edwards. Film fans can now have a look at the trailer for the British supernatural drama Retribution, starring Calum BestAmar AdatiaFunda OnalAlex Reid, and Luke White (Love Island) The film, following the relationship between a troubled young woman and a fallen angel, was written and directed by Christine Edwards and will be released in September.

As their connection attracts the wrong kind of attention from members of Raphael’s past, a bitter rival vows to finish what he started a long time ago – the destruction of Raphael. Accomplished musician, Naomi Vista is about to enroll in one of the most prestigious music academies in the world when a terrible event throws her into a pit of despair. At the academy, Naomi is magnetically drawn to Raphael, a quiet and ethereal stranger who helps her rediscover a love for life. However, Raphael is not what he seems.

Set against the backdrop of a supernatural London gang war, Naomi and Raphael embark on a love story that will change them both forever. 

Award winning filmmaker, Christine Edwards makes her feature directorial debut with Retribution, after writing and producing a number of successful projects. Her film Cash and Curry went on to win the Best Film award at the Portobello film festival in 2008 and was followed up by Four Hours. Her trilogy of short films, the Sons of God trilogy, went on to win multiple awards during a successful festival run, and served as inspiration for Retribution. Most recently, she wrote and produced Gangsters, Gamblers & Geezers.

Retribution boasts a range of stars, including Calum Best (Dangerous Game), Amar Adatia (Gangsters Gambers & Geezers, Dangerous Game), Alex Reid (Dangerous Game), Luke White (Love Island), Funda Onal (Made in Chelsea), Ayvianna Snow (Dangerous Game), Jake White, and Reuben Beau Davies.

Retribution will be available from Asda, HMV, Amazon and on iTunes from September 5th.

What gave you the idea to write Retribution?

I have always been fascinated by angels and how there are good angels and fallen angels. What intrigued me is that before the fall, all the angels were all close, like brothers. Then one decision caused them to become enemies forever. I wanted to explore that relationship and show angels for what they are: warriors and not little fluffy babies on clouds. The love story in Retribution came in as a way to make the whole concept accessible to the audience as we learn about angels and their story through Naomi’s (our romantic lead actress) eyes.

Your previous work features the trilogy ‘Sons of God’, do you enjoy working on religious films?

I started working on secular feature films, but as I started to take my faith seriously, I wanted to tell stories with Christian themes and ideas. For me, working on a Christian film truly inspires me as I am working towards a greater goal. I have found I always seem to get some kind of divine help when making these films, for example, in Retribution in one of the music school scenes, sunlight came streaming into the dining hall and DOP said “wow look at that, the guys who make Game of Thrones pay thousands of pounds to get that effect” and we got it for free!

What was your favourite moment working on this film?

The Yacht hotel in London was my favourite moment, this was because 5 years before the Retribution shoot I was filming my first ‘Sons of God’ short film on the bridge behind the yacht, with some friends and a small little panasonic camera. Fast forward 5 years later and I am on a luxury yacht with a Red Camera filming with amazing actors, I kept staring at that bridge from the yacht and couldn’t believe how far I had come.

Producing and directing together can be a challenge, which part of directing and producing do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy producing whilst in pre-production when we are getting the crew and actors together and finding locations, there is so much creative energy in this part of the process as everything has potential and things like budget constraints and scheduling conflicts haven’t taken hold yet. As a director, I really enjoy bringing the script to life onset, I love seeing how one subtle lighting change or inflection of a word in an actors performance can change the mood in a scene that the script never envisaged.

Do you have a different way of working with new actors, than experienced actors?

Before the shoot, I talk to all my actors about the script and character and answer any questions they have. When I write my scripts I put quite a bit of detail into them so before an actor sets foot on the set they already know what I want, I trust that the actor has put in the necessary work to bring that character life, just as they trust that  as a director, I have done my work in creating a story. I am a big believer in research being the key to an authentic performance and I ask my actors to do that.

Did you take part in the casting process? 

Yes, I was very involved in the casting process, from selecting the sides I wanted to be read at the audition to being at each audition. The actors that researched the project and the production team stood out to me as it showed me that they had a hunger, and if they spent this kind of time researching for an audition, imagine what they would do when they got the part.

British film has been making quite a mark on the world, why do you think this is?

I question the term “British Film” – a lot of the films we consider ‘British’ such as Harry Potter, Bridget Jones, James Bond are actually American as the financing and subsequent profits from these films go into the American industry, not ours. Our industry has become an off shore, tax-efficient, post-production factory for Hollywood. If you look at the real British films, and by that I mean the films made with British money, they are BBC or Channel 4 films or smaller independent films that get no real distribution. What we need is someone like J Arthur Rank to put their money where their mouth is and create a studio and distribution network in the UK, like the one Rank created in the 1940’s (Rank Organisation and Odeon Cinemas) that took on the Hollywood system and created amazing British film like the Red Shoes. 

For those who are just starting out into acting, could you please give them some advice?

When you get a role, no matter how small it is, research that character: know everything about your character and the world that character lives in, as those details will help with your performance and make it authentic. And the time and effort you spent researching your character will impress other people on set, so when they make another film they will remember you and your passion and use you in their next project.

How do people keep in touch with you?

I am probably more of a lurker on twitter than a poster, but I do read every message that gets sent to me: @_jaffagirl

What do you have coming up next?

We are currently in the golden age of television with great shows such as Ray Donovan, Westworld, and Top of the Lake, where filmmakers have been given the opportunity to really explore the full multi-layered world of characters and the story. So TV is inspiring me more than film at the moment, so I am writing a couple of TV scripts.

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