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  • Jim Peakman

Director James's Interview With THE TABLE READ.

Recently our writer/director James sat down with JJ Barnes for a discussion about filmmaking and The Shimian.


Tell me a bit about yourself.

My name is James Peakman and I’m managing director of Bader Media Entertainment. I’ve been a professional filmmaker since 2012 mostly in the role of director, and in 2015 I went to live in work in China, working on various film projects there before returning to good old blighty in 2020 just before the world got turned upside down with Covid.

James Peakman

These days I’m running Bader Media and have just completed a feature movie, and more good things to come in 2023.


When did you first realise you wanted to make films?

When I was a kid (maybe 7 or 8 years old) I used to make these little war movies with those little green soldiers (as seen in Toy Story) with the family camcorder. I remember working out stop motion animation by starting the camera and as soon as it said record stopping it, moving the little green man and repeating that. Being an only child I had a lot of time to be imaginative and creative, but after leaving school I had decided that I wanted to go and study film and become a professional filmmaker. Which I did, and am still doing (although I’ve improved my cast from little green soldiers).

What is your favourite thing about films?

The escapism, they can take you to another world, another life or even back to an event in history. I love story telling and films are the ultimate source of that. I love the excitement and experience of the cinema, it was such a magical place for me when I was a kid (and to a degree even today) but sadly we’re losing cinema so its an experience future generations may miss out on.


What classes or research did you take to support you in your filmmaking career?

I studied at Henley College in Coventry and then later on to Coventry University. I remember the very first thing the head of the course at Cov Uni said to the class. He walked in and said “Hi everyone, welcome to Media Production, here you’re going to make shit films.” Everyone looked around like “errr what?” But then he said, “and by making lots of shit films you’re going to develop into making good ones.” I liked that, it seemed honest and he was right. By making loads of little short films I worked out my craft and improved my skills. So it taught me that we’re always going to be learning, so as filmmakers we just have to keep making films.


What was your first film industry job?

My first paid film industry job was as a runner for ITV’s Jeremy Kyle show (if that counts). That was before I went to Coventry University. Following university I was filming weddings and corporate videos for the likes of Rolls Royce and BMW. I was lucky to direct the 2012 London Olympic campaign for the Sytner Group so I had a great experience bombing around in BMW’s and Mini Coopers. Creative filmmaking is what I’ve always wanted to pursue, so in the beginning I had to start my own projects and get others involved. Before becoming the director, I’ve been a camera operator, an AD, or a Visual Director.


What was your most recent film industry job?

The Shimian. My most recent job was directing the horror feature “The Shimian” as part of Bader Media Entertainment which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


Tell me a favourite experience in your career. Something that stands out in your memories and makes you want to find more experiences like it.

I think filming “Black Hill” in Almería Spain was one of the highlights. I love the western genre and to be making a western in the same locations as where they shot my favourite westerns (The Dollars Trilogy) was such a buzz. It was a great shoot too, out in the desert, in a valley, good weather, great locations and with great people. The result of that film also gave me so many great experiences in LA and allowed me to further my career.


What was your toughest experience in your filmmaking career?

I’d say the toughest experience is the marketing and promotion AFTER the movie is made. The film making part I have the experience on but learning how to promote the movie to get people to invest their time to watch it has been a “learn on the job” experience. You must remember that independent filmmakers often don’t have the millions of pounds/dollars that the big studios have to attract people to their movie, and that’s what we’re competing with. Though tough, it can be fun and extremely creative, and we always have a “wow that’s cool” moment when we see the weekly streaming figures.


What is the title of your current project?

The Shimian


What inspired you to make The Shimian?

I noticed in the horror genre there’s been an increase of films that solely rely on gore and sex to entertain. To me that’s not very creative or interesting, so I wanted to make a horror film that had soul and is driven by a solid story first and the horror elements second.


What is the main conflict of The Shimian?

Story wise there’s quite a few conflicts going on. It revolves around Tony (who’s the father of Emma) trying to build the relationship with his daughter but at the same time building a relationship with his wife to be Sarah (who Emma doesn’t get on with). So it’s very much a family drama until the Shimian comes along and has other plans for them. Then the family have to work together to survive their conflict with the Shimian.


How long did you spend in production?

Filming The Shimian was 16 days in production.


How long did you spend in post production?

About 4 months.


Did you work with a writer, or write The Shimian yourself? Would you do the same again?

I wrote the film myself which I am perfectly happy to do. But also I’m perfectly happy to collaborate with another writer if we’re on the same wavelength or even just direct somebody else’s script. It all depends on the project.


How did you find your cast and what made you choose them?

We put out a casting call for the four main roles and received over a hundred applicants. We had to go through each one and get that down to about 10 per character. I asked those actors to do a video audition (covid was still a thing and that’s how auditions were done at the time) and from there I got it down to 2/3 per character. I then had a meeting with each one individually to get to know the person behind the act and from that I chose my cast.


How big was your crew? Would you choose the same size again?

We had a 12 person crew which is small but it meant we became a little family during the production which was pleasant. I’d be happy to use the same size again as long as it was practical for the movie we’re shooting.


How did you find your locations?

Mostly through people we knew. We were very lucky to personally know land owners with great locations.


Tell me some career goals. What would you like to achieve?

Currently my goal is to be earning enough from creative filmmaking that I don’t have to worry about how much I’ve got the heating on. In the first quarter of 2023 I’d like to get myself some representation and ultimately develop the projects I am lining up to work on after The Shimian.


Tell me something you were surprised by, something you had never realised about being a filmmaker.

Just how rewarding it is when the project is all done and dusted and you get to show it to an audience. It’s a buzz like no other.


What are words of advice you have for other aspiring filmmakers?

Keep going, beg borrow steal (I never told you that) what you can and keep making films. It’s always going to be a learning curve, so like my lecturer told me, don’t worry about making shit it’ll eventually turn into something good. It only takes one project to change your career…oh and never be late…ever!


Give me your social links so people can come and find you!

Twitter: @jimatay (personal)

@MediaBader (company)

@TheShimianMovie (current project)

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_shimian_movie/ (current project)

https://www.instagram.com/badermediaentertainment/ (company)

Website: www.jamespeakman.com

www.badermediaentertainment.com

www.theshimian.com

Amazon Prime Link To The Shimian:

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0B8LGCBK1

USA: https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B0B8LRDMKX/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r


READ OTHER INTERVIEWS AT THE TABLE READ HERE: https://thetableread.co.uk

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