When introvert, Aaron, finds himself struggling under the weight of a revelation, he dreams of escaping to the only place he can breathe. But escape has a cost, and he must ask himself if it is a price, he is willing to pay. Censure is an award winning short, directed by Richard Bazley.
Richard Bazley is an Emmy Nominated Director. Although now a Director of both Live Action and Animation he comes from an animation background. His credits include Disney’s “Pocahontas”, “Hercules”, “Tarzan” and a Lead Animator and Sequence Director on celebrated Warner Bros. Film “The Iron Giant” Bazley started his career on the groundbreaking “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. He also storyboards on Features and Series. A versatile Director Bazley has a background in CGI as well as Traditional 2D.
Bazley moved into Directing on commercials and series with popular commercials for Sky and Go Compare. In 2012 he Directed two Episodes of “Full English” at Rough Draft Studios (USA), a TV show made for the UK’s Channel Four (2012).
Through Argosy Film Group Bazley Directed “Lost Treasure Hunt”, an animated half-hour pilot for a proposed TV Series. “Lost Treasure Hunt”. In 2015 Bazley received two Emmy nominations for his work on the show.
More recently Bazley has been developing Feature films and is attached to a number as Director. In 2011 Bazley teamed up with Gary Kurtz (Prod. “Star Wars”, “Dark Crystal”) to set up the film production company GBK Hybrid based in London and Los Angeles. GBK Hybrid’s first short “Centurion Resurrection” filmed in Bath has played at numerous Film Festivals and won numerous awards.
“The Chimeran”, a Live Action/Animation Hybrid is the first film in development. Described as somewhere between “Planet of the Apes” and “District 9” this is clearly not just another creature movie. With Gary Kurtz’s involvement it ensures that the film has depth and character with many sociological issues that take it out of the realms of regular Sci Fi. It is grounded in real scientific theory, is thought-provoking, and relevant to the human condition.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?
I think nowadays there is a lot more openness about Mental Health, especially young men's mental health and traditionally males didn't discuss this. It was an area I wanted to explore and bottling things up can lead to tragic results. A lot of other issues are being brought out into the open now and I had an idea during lockdown when I think a lot of people were suffering. I was also trying to figure out how to make a film during lockdown and came up with a concept that would help facilitate making it during all the restrictions. Now I don't want to give the concept away but when you start watching all will become clear. Now our "protagonist" has issues, let's say and I wanted to blur the lines of who to root for. The beauty of making a short film is there are less people to answer to so you can take risks that often the bigger budgeted films can't.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre?
The concept was dark and I wanted to film it in Black and White to reflect the mood, although we do add a twist.
Like many filmmakers, I am a huge fan of Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott and many more. Censure is a dark film so many influences came to play. I wanted the film to be in black and white and thought nowadays that audiences were more accepting of black and white and it wouldn’t be solely an “Art House Film” but accessible to all. Kenneth Branagh had recently made Belfast which I thought was fabulous and am a huge fan of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, both of which were shot in black and white.
For years I had worked in animation which by association means Family entertainment. I actually always found this restricting as there were far more serious subject matters I wanted to tell stories about so moving to Directing Live Action has actually been liberating for me. So even though you can tell any story in animation the commercial pressures mean that you are forced to tell certain stories a certain way. Brad Bird in "The Iron Giant" started to break those boundaries ( in Hollywood anyway) but little progress has been made since. In Live Action you are not restricted in this way at all. There are a lot of great Live Action films out there so the challenge has been how to make a film stand out on a limited budget. So it is all the idea and with CENSURE the Festival results prove that we were right in following our gut feeling.
When did you realise that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?
I could write a very long reply to this but the short one is from a very young age! I was brought up in the English Countryside in Devon and back then there were no distractions like Computer games or mobile phones so I would go out and draw a lot! This eventually lead to a journey that took me to Disney where I was a an Animator on films such as Pocahontas and Hercules. As time went by (and the demise of Classical 2D in Hollywood) I also realised that I wanted to make my own films and tell my own stories. My first film that I created was called "The Journal of Edwin Carp" and as far as I know was the first animated short created in Flash to get a Theatrical release. It was shown at Laemmle's Theatre Hollywood. Amazingly Hugh Laurie agreed to do the voice, This was before "House" but he had been in some Hollywood films such as "Stuart Little", also Directed by an Ex-Disney Animator Rob Minkoff. I later went on to Direct on "other peoples" including double Emmy Nominated "Lost Treasure Hunt", some TV series and Commercials. Live Action was beckoning though.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production?
Many years ago I approached Academy Nominee Tom Conti about another film project I had which was a Feature. It never happened; however I stayed in touch. I had always been a fan of his. When I was developing CENSURE with my long-term collaborator and screenwriter Neil Bason I realised that Tom would be perfect for the father. I am very much an ideas man but need a top writer to formulate my ideas. A while back I teamed up with Cornish-based writer Neil Bason. I had an idea based on my Grandfather George Bazley who was a Champion Wrestler of Cornwall based on his struggles and eventual encounter with Yukio Tani at The London Palladium. It is called George and the Dragon. It is a feature, however, and they can take a very long time to come to fruition as the budgets go into the Millions. So when I had an idea for Censure I knew immediately who to go to flesh and out and formulate the story. Neil did a stellar job and we have many more films like Censure in the works.
I had a couple of big projects stall a while ago, so I said to a colleague and DOP let’s just go make a film. A micro-budget film, something we can just do with no hindrance and no Executive interference! With a small lean crew! I had an idea during lockdown that would have worked with the precautions then without giving too much away. Even though we were coming out of lockdown I still thought it was a strong idea and well worth making. The Cinematographer John E Fry agreed, and the rest is history!
John had all sorts of “gadgets and gizmos” as he rents out film and camera equipment. One of my favorites was the “Salisbury Slider”, a couple of roll bars he and his Dad had constructed so he could “Dolly in and Dolly out” for certain scenes. I was also amazed at how often his “Baby Camera” was used. The great thing about it was we could move fast and effectively, and he could set up and light a scene rapidly without having to rebuild the camera every time. On our sort of budget, this was perfect.
For the main lead I also had someone else in mind, Connor Wulfric. I had seen an audition last year for a Film I was about to Direct. Again, that film got delayed but was waiting for the right project to come along to cast him and knew right away he was right for CENSURE.
We did have to go a little further afield for some of our other acting talent. After going through numerous showreels I at last found one of interest. Scottish Actress Vivien Taylor had the “edge” I was looking for. There is one scene where Vivien delivers a terrific long-lasting monologue. “Isn’t she annoying?” she said and I said “Yes! Extremely! But do take that as a compliment!” Vivien can actually deliver a perfect English accent but for this character and due to the “colourful” language, the Glaswegian worked a treat. So I felt her Mother should be Scottish too. Vivien suggested the wonderful Elaine Mackenzie Ellis. I knew of her but younger members of the crew knew her better in Me Too a CBeeBies children’s TV show. I loved the menace Elaine brought to her character.
Music has always been important to me, especially in film. Imagine Jaws without the magnificent John Williams score. Or Elmer Bernstein’s uplifting music in The Great Escape. A few years ago a good friend of mine and fabulous Composer, Musician Adrian Chivers gave me a copy of the latest CD for his and Daniel Pennie’s band Noise In Your Eye.
Noise in Your Eye was originally formed in Box, Wiltshire in 2007 by long-term collaborators musician/producer Adrian Chivers and musician/artist Daniel Pennie. A duo of experimentally focused musicians, who bring together elements of jazz, modern composition, film score, electronica, ambient and free improvisation. I pulled over to a lay-by to give the first track a listen. I was so enamored I listened to the whole album. It was perfect music for the film and more importantly, it gave me goosebumps! So when I formulated the idea, I knew exactly whom to call for the score!
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on?
As mentioned, I am definitely drawn to the darker aspects of life. It always makes for more interesting storytelling. Like many filmmakers, I am a huge fan of Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Ridley Scott and many more. I am not into gore for the sake of gore but if there is a psychological aspect that can enhance the film, I am all for it. What is interesting is that Ridley Scott before he did Alien had not watched a lot of Horror and most of the films he was shown as reference did not interest him although The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did! CENSURE is very much in the mind I should add, more in Hitchcock territory if I can be so bold!
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Everyone likes a good film and an escape. It gives filmmakers a unique opportunity to highlight all manner of things. Injustice, sexuality, racism, mental health issues and much more. Messages can vary and the important thing is not to preach otherwise you lose your audience. A Director, like a good lawyer, can make a case and give the audience a choice. So there are many important issues that can be addressed but at the same time not being too pious. People should have freedom of choice and we should not create propaganda. A Director can certainly highlight issues if they chose. I do think also that there is another side and that is just the realm of fantasy and escapism. After a hard week's work some just want to be transported to another place, maybe even taken on a rollercoaster ride for a couple hours. Films can suit all needs.
What is your next film project as a director?
I am extremely excited to announce exclusively on LA INDIES MAGAZINE our new short film called CONFINES. It appears that Mental Health is once again a theme. It features a fabulous actor called Luke F Dejahung. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0200885/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 Luke had seen CENSURE and was delighted to be asked to collaborate on a new short. I had a loose idea but once again screenwriter Neil Bason came up with a blinder of a script and we will be shooting next month. Now in England we often say "Weather permitting" but again a bit of drizzle and haze would suit me fine, as you know now it suits me dark!