Interview with Mark Banks, director of ‘Pictures of Lily’

If you remember back in November last year, Daniel Perrin wrote about an upcoming British film set in Brighton called Pictures of Lily.

The brief synopsis for the film said:

“A London businessman comes to Brighton for a meeting that is postponed at the final hour. 
After wandering aimlessly around town, he winds up lost in the famous Lanes area and meets an unusual young woman who views the world in a unique way and encourages him to find his own path.”

Over at Front Row Reviews, we have been excited about the release of this film & the work that has gone into the feature by new director, Mark Banks and his team. The film sounds like it has a real throw back to the traditions of the French New Wave films of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Below we have an interview with the director, Mark Banks, who spoke to myself about the excitement of the upcoming feature.

1. Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself and the team that you worked with on ‘Pictures of Lily’.

I made my first feature film ‘Look At Me’ about 15 years ago – it wasn’t successful but it taught me a lot. Since then I’ve had a mildly successful music career but continued writing scripts and making short films and music videos. The rest of the cast and crew come from a varied background of film and television work and many have more industry experience than me, including the producer Ele and the DP Ed.

 2. What can you tell us about your upcoming feature, ‘Pictures of Lily’?

‘Pictures of Lily’ is a film set in the heart of Brighton’s artistic and modern bohemian quarter. The story concerns a London businessman who comes to the town for a meeting. When it’s postponed, he wanders around and gets lost in the Lanes and North Laine area. There he meets an unusual young woman in a flea market and she agrees to show him around town for the day; introducing him to the sights and sounds of the Brighton that I know and love. It’s a film about love, like, sex, good, bad, with a dash of voyeurism and plenty of helpings of lovely music.

 3. After searching through the website a little bit, it seems the location of Brighton is important to the plot. Was there something about the location that inspired you, especially the parts of Brighton that you filmed within?

Brighton is a very photogenic town, as well as a cultural and artistic one. In ‘Pictures of Lily’ it became, in a sense, a character in its own right, but I didn’t want it to be a postcard from or a love letter to the town – more a magical backdrop that was integral to the plot.

4. As well as location, the website and the Facebook group mention the soundtrack that you used in the film and the use of local musicians. Are you a musician yourself and did you always feel that the film was going to rely on the importance of the musicians who took part?

Yes I am a musician – and I felt that a story about Brighton should incorporate the many talented musicians that are here. I put together a soundtrack that fitted in with the mood and feel of the film and we are very fortunate that all the artists we wanted were happy to be involved.

5. As for the cast, how did you go about casting the film because it seems from the website, they are have quite a varied background before coming to your film?

In addition to putting up adverts on various sites, I also trawled through showreels etc . of actors that I felt might be suitable for the roles. We held extensive open auditions and took a great deal of care to make sure that the casting was spot on. We then spent three months of intensive rehearsals to prepare for filming.

6. How long was the film in the making, from conception to screen and what is going on at the moment?

If all goes according to plan then the film will be a little over a year from idea to finished product with a proper release perhaps more like 18 months. Right now, we are editing the film, putting together a teaser trailer and working on contacts for distribution and publicity.

7. What inspired you to make the film and have you lived through the experience yourself?
The film was born of necessity and the desire to be a bit different … meaning the locations were chosen because, not only are they photogenic, but they were likely to be cheap or free. Once I had my stage, so to speak, the story came from of my own experiences and opinions on life, love and all that jazz. I specifically wanted a strong female character and not one whose role was to simply enable the man’s character to arc. So, from there, I began to structure a story that would be easy to film and would, hopefully, tell an interesting and thought-provoking tale (or something like that).

8. I was particularly interested in your filmic inspirations especially the mention of the French New Wave and Italian Neo-realism. Are we going to see some of these inspirations come through?

I think it’s hard to avoid wearing your inspirations on your sleeve, but I hope that mine are varied enough not to be too obvious and that my own creative input will show that the film has a style of its own. That said, there are certain nods to many of my favourite films and genres. I will leave it to others to tell me where they are and which films I ripped off.

9. What is next for the film? When is it due to be released and where can audiences find out more about the film? The next step is to apply to international festivals and find a distributor. We are planning to have a premiere here in Brighton at the Duke of York’s Picturehouse in March. Hopefully we will have a ‘proper’ release the other side of summer; this would obviously depend on the distribution deal that we secure. We have a website where people can follow our progress with links to Facebook, YouTube etc. ‘

10. And for yourself? What happens after ‘Pictures of Lily’?

It depends how well the film does! I have a few ideas for projects and a couple of scripts. I would like to make a bigger budget film in the next year or so. In 2012, I would also like to complete one or two micro budget feature films that are made very quickly but still to a high standard – kind of like the American ‘Mumblecore’ scene but with better photography and an actual plot. Watch this space … “Don’t you know who I think I’m gonna be?” etc. etc. 

I can honestly say that by looking through the production stills on the website and the various pages about the film, I am pretty excited and it looks a really beautiful film, which is going to utilise the screen as well as music. A trailer is on its way, in the mean time check out the official Facebook page, follow on Twitter or click on the official site, and of course keep checking back to Front Row Reviews for more news on this exciting film.!/polmovie


About The Author

Reviews Editor, Contributor and Festival Coordinator

Ollie has written for Front Row Reviews pretty much since its inception about seven years ago whilst still studying Film & Television. Since then, he was trust into the world of independent film distribution and has recently started working with Picturehouse Entertainment in their Marketing Department. Having written and produced two radio series, he is moving hoping to (one day) write a web series/short film/feature (delete as appropriate ;)). His favourite director is David Lynch (which makes him make a lot of sense!) and his favourite films are The Hours, Mulholland Drive, Volver, Blade Runner and Bridget Jones Diary.

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