Feature Friday - Synchronicity Films
26 June 2015
On Feature Fridays we picked one company from our Directory and got to know their business a bit better by asking them a few quick questions.
1. Who are Synchronicity Films?
Synchronicity Films is an award-winning production company owned and run by producer and executive producer Claire Mundell.
Synchronicity creates, develops and produces feature films and television drama. We seek out original voices and bring stories to life with energy, passion and care. We work on projects we love, with people we like.
Claire is a former Chair of BAFTA Scotland and an alumni of the prestigious film business development programme Inside Pictures.
2. Tell us about some of your most notable work
Most recently Synchronicity produced NOT ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING, a romantic comedy with Scottish star Karen Gillan in the lead role. Not Another Happy Ending was the Closing Film of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013. It tells the story of blocked novelist Jane Lockhart, whose struggling publisher has to unblock her or he's finished. With Jane's newfound success, she's become too happy and she can't write when she's happy.The only trouble is, the worse he makes her feel, the more he realises he's in love with her....
We also co-produced the multiple award winning WEEKEND, from acclaimed writer - director Andrew Haigh. Weekend is a tender contemporary love story, about a 48 relationship which develops when Russell heads out to a gay club, after a drunken house party with his straight mates. Just before closing time he picks up Glen, but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.
We won BAFTA Scotland Best Film award in 2009 with the movie CRYING WITH LAUGHTER, written and directed by Justin Molotnikov. Crying with Laughter is a revenge thriller with blackly comedic elements, about two former school friends who are defined by an incident in their past that one can't remember, and the other can't forget.
Synchronicity's current slate includes an adaptation of Paul Auster's IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS to be directed by Peter Webber (Girl with the Pearl Earring); THE DEVIL'S STAIRCASE to be directed by Ben Lucas (Wasted on The Young); KILL, a taught psychological thriller by first time writer/ director Rodger Griffiths, in co-production with Cinescope ; thriller BLIND MICE, director Simon Arthur (Silver Tongues) in co-production with Blinder Films; and GLASGOW KISS from Sundance-winning writer / director Marianna Palka.
Synchronicity's television drama development slate includes THE CRY, a 3 parter for BBC1 written by Jacquelin Perske (Love My Way) based on the novel of the same name by Helen Fitzgerald; REDEMPTION SONG, written by Ben Tagoe (Coronation St); SURROGATES by Colin McLaren (The Legend of Barney Thomson, Donkeys); and several other projects with some of the UK's top television writers.
3. Where are you based?
Synchronicity Films is based in the West End of Glasgow.
4. What's the biggest challenge film producers face in Scotland?
The challenges facing Scottish producers are multiple and varied. The journey of a film from initial idea to distribution is a long, complicated and often torturous road, not for the faint hearted! Television drama is just as complex, competitive, labour intensive and demanding.
It's hard to single out just one challenge, but I'd say the biggest is perhaps the struggle to stay alive as a company long enough to survive the length of time that any form of drama - film or television - takes to develop, and get funded into production.
Most small scripted indies in Scotland are undercapitalised and when lead times are at least 2 - 3 years, often more, it's tough to sustain sufficient turnover from the small amounts of overhead and recoveries achievable during the development phase.
Ratios of development to production are pure conjecture but rarely any less than 15:1, meaning company slates require multiple projects in order to increase the chances of any single project getting into production. Proper attention and development of those projects requires skilled drama and scripted professionals, and that talent is hard to find, afford and retain in Scotland when demand and generous remuneration for their experience is offered not just in London, but now (with the proliferation of drama) all over the world. Small scottish film producers have to compete for such talent or grow their own.
Drama development is also demanding on resources in relation to source material. Significant capital is required for the acquisition of rights in existing properties such as books and scripts, but also to enable commissioning of original material, so we often have to work harder to compete with the well capitalised super drama indies.
A base in Scotland of course means regularly being in London, often every other week, to ensure key relationships with talent and business contacts are developed and maintained, and to ensure as much visibility in the industry as possible. The advantage of regular face time with seeing business colleagues, funders and commissioners, and even just being seen to be 'around', is significant.
Overall funding, specifically for feature film, is low in Scotland compared with nearby neighbours such as Northern Ireland, Ireland and many countries in mainland Europe, so we do well to achieve as we do. The sector continues to grow and Scottish films are regularly being developed, funded and seen all over the world but the volume of what we produce is not high enough yet. We need to be making more than 5 or 6 films a year to create any kind of critical mass which will have longevity. And profits from successful drama developed by Scottish indies has to be reinvested in Scottish indies, if we are ever to achieve growth and sustainability, and create a more level playing field on which to compete with the super-indies.