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Ken Loach appeals for help to finish ‘last film’

Director searching for numbering tape to help finish editing his next and possibly last narrative feature, Jimmy’s Hall.

Ken Loach is appealing to editors and post production houses to find a batch of film numbering tape - essential to help finish editing his upcoming feature Jimmy’s Hall.

The British director, best known for films such as The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Kes, has resisted the move to digital and still works on a Steenbeck, cutting physical film stock with editor Jonathan Morris.

But with the widespread move to digital, Loach believes Jimmy’s Hall could be the last feature film to use the flatbed editor and, less than two weeks into the cutting process, supplies are running out.

Speaking from the cutting room at Goldcrest Post London, Loach told ScreenDaily: “We’re making a start and putting the scenes together. But we’re finding that one or two of the support services are fading and one of those is in supplies of numbering tape.

“We’re scratching around to find if some numbering tape still exists so we can identify the sound and picture so the film remains in synch.”

Specifically, Loach is looking for 25-30 rolls of dry transfer tape, 13mm wide, developed for Acmade Film Edge Numbering (or edge coding) machines. They are due to run out by the end of next week.

Speaking of working on the Steenbeck, Loach said: “The basic technology is very good and there are advantages over cutting on the Avid, which is that it’s a very linear process and you have a sense of the ongoing rhythm of the film.”

“You can see the shape of a scene very easily and it has a handmade quality that you don’t get on a computer - at least that’s what we tell ourselves.”

Steenbeck advantages

Morris, who has edited many of Loach’s best known films and first worked with the director in 1980, said of the old school editing suite: “An advantage of Steenbeck’s is that they aren’t as instant as digital.

“On a Steenbeck, when you put up a roll of film 10 minutes long, you have to rewind it when you finished looking at it. That takes two or three minutes which is sometimes quite nice. It’s thinking time, a little pause.

“When I’m working on the computer, I feel driven by the machine as opposed to the other way round.”

“I suspect this will be the last film in this country edited this way, although people will still use the Steenbeck to view archive.”

Morris said he expects to have completed a cut of Jimmy’s Hall by Christmas and a fine cut by the beginning of February.

Spirit of free thinkers

Jimmy’s Hall, written by Loach regular Paul Laverty, was shot in August in counties Leitrim and Sligo, Ireland.

The cast features Barry Ward in the title role while Simone Kirby plays the female lead. The ensemble includes Jim Norton (Water for Elephants), Brían O’Byrne (Mildred Pierce) and Andrew Scott, who played Moriarty in BBC series Sherlock.

As previously announced by Screen, Wild Bunch handles sales. eOne will release in the UK.

Set in 1932, the film follows Irish communist leader James Gralton who returns from a decade in New York to re-open the dance hall he built in 1921. The film will “celebrate the spirit of the free thinkers who went to learn, argue, dream and have fun” in the dance hall.

It is a Sixteen Films, Element Pictures, Why Not Productions and Wild Bunch production made with support of the BFI, Film4, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/Irish Film Board.

Final feature?

ScreenDaily first reported in August that it could be Loach’s last narrative feature.

The 77-year-old director, who won the Palme d’Or in 2006 with The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Cannes’ Jury Prize in 2012 for The Angels’ Share, added: “Jimmy’s Hall was set in the 1930s with a big cast. I might not tackle another one on that scale again.

“I always think, “Maybe one more,” but common sense may prevail. I don’t want to go on until they’re saying, ‘For God’s sake, shut up’.

“But I’ll keep making a bit of trouble from time to time.”

It is believed Loach will focus on documentary.

If you can help, contact Eimhear McMahon at Sixteen Films 020 7734 0168

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