RICK LIMENTANI is a former Cambridge engineering student turned award-winning filmmaker turned playwright. His latest short film Put Down is screening at ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival 2016.

Brief intro! 
I’m 37, I live in London, and I’m primarily a writer. I originally studied Engineering at Cambridge University, then went on to study film-making in Paris at EICAR. I’ve written several short films, feature films and theatre plays, with varying degrees of success.

What was the inspiration for Put Down?
I’ve always had trouble empathising with animals, compared to others around me. I decided to create a character to take this to it’s limit.

Brief overview of your success with Put Down in other festival script competitions.
The script for Put Down won the IMDb Script to Screen award in 2014, after a public reading of the finalists, which was very exciting. The prize was the funding to make the film, on the condition that it be ready in five months for projection at the Bath Film Festival. For me this award was a fantastic opportunity, and the short film wouldn’t exist without it. Not only that, but the public reading really helped to guage audience response and hone a few jokes that weren’t quite working.

I’ve struggled to find representation as a writer, as most writers do, and I have found script competitions to be a fantastic help for building awareness and interest both in individual scripts and in myself as a writer. I previously won the Newport International Film Festival best screenplay award, and was nominated for the best feature screenplay award here at ECU last year.

What’s happened with Put Down since its script win? 
After winning the IMDb Award, we had five months to make the film. We had a fantastic crew, some of whom, like my DoP, Editor, and Composer, I had worked with various times before, and some of whom were completely new to me. We had team members from 10 different nationalities involved in the project.

The shoot was 4 days, all in North London, and in spite of several big problems (a broken down barge, an unplumbed bathtub, etc) it all went amazingly smoothly, and I was very happy with the footage we got. Post-production was to a tight timeline, but we delivered the final film, as you see it here in Paris, on time. A couple of interesting facts about the post production: we’re the first film on IMDb to credit a Kerning Consultant, and the colour correction was done in the Playboy Mansion.

Since it’s completion, Put Down has so far been to 28 film festivals, and has won 8 awards. We’ve also recently signed with a distributor here in France, Origine films, which is very exciting.

What was your reaction after news of your nomination for your feature script for ÉCU’s script competition last year?
I was really pleased to be nominated. The nomination was for a feature script that I had worked on for a long time, it’s one of my dearest projects, and so I was thrilled for someone else to recognise that. It also gave me a reason to come to Paris, to catch up with old friends, meet filmmakers, and watch a lot of inspiring films. Writing can be a lonely activity, and having some recognition and appreciation for your work really makes a difference, to me at least.

Describe yourself as a creative. What about you makes you do what you do?
I love stories. Always have. I love reading novels, watching films, and above all I love writing. In particular I enjoy comedy, writing things that will surprise or amuse. The last few years I’ve written some theatre plays, and they’ve been performed in front of many audiences, and there’s nothing more satisfying than making a room full of people laugh.

What was your track record like in terms of successful productions? Has success come easy to you thus far?
I wouldn’t call myself successful yet. I’ve written several features scripts, which are all as yet unproduced. I’m hoping to change that, but short films have been a great way to learn and also to feel that I’ve achieved something. It’s not easy, and I don’t think it should be. I think that having to work hard, having to struggle a bit, makes you value any success more, and gives you the fight to face the next challenge.

How would you describe working in creative profession? (frustrating, enlightening, better than any other job you’ve ever worked, etc.?)
Being creative satisifies me in ways that all other jobs I’ve had don’t. In my guise as a strategy consultant I’ve worked in many offices over the years, and the work is challenging, the people are often driven, but for me it lacks the joy of creative work.

Film shoots are hard work, high stress environments with long patches of tedium thrown in, but I love them.

Any advice for fellow creatives?
My film was made by a talented group of people. They weren’t paid, and they did what I asked, but they also brought their own passion, their own ideas and their own creativity. Any aspect of “my” film you like, chances are it was as much due to someone else as it was due to me. The DoP and Composer in particular are hugely responsible for the final feel of the film. I worked with them very closely. We worked and reworked things to get them just right.

The point I’m trying to make is: for me, the hardest part of the creative process is choosing which ideas, which proposals from my team to say yes to, and which to say no to. You have to have a vision for what you want and drive towards that, but you also have to adapt as you go, and take the best from your team, as long as it adds to your vision.

That, and start with a strong script…

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