8 January 2015

Director Peter Sattler talks Camp X-Ray and casting Kristen Stewart

By Cassio | Categorised in News

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Peter Sattler’s Camp X-Ray is both an illuminating and honest depiction of the experience of both the detainees and staff working in Guantanamo Bay.  Part of the ‘debate’ category of this year’s BFI London Film Festival, the plot device lies in the telling of this story though the eyes of a young female Private, Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart) who is a fresh recruit keen to toughen herself up in post-9/11 America.

I spoke to Peter (writer and director of Camp X-Ray) about his journey from film school to film studio and how he managed to cast one of the most popular actresses of the moment.

 

 

As a filmmaker, how important are festivals?

It’s really important for me that we screen at festivals, especially for this film… The people going to festivals are the gatekeepers of taste.  Many cinema go-er’s just don’t have time to go and see hundreds of movies so they reply on word of mouth.  We didn’t have the money needed to market this film, so festivals are essential for us and it’s great to get the film out there are see what the reactions to it are.

So how did your idea for Camp X-Ray come about?  At which point did you start thinking about it as a viable option for a movie?
I got the idea for Camp X-Ray from a documentary on Guantanamo Bay.  While I was watching it, I was compelled by the mundanely of life there, for both the guards and the detainees.  What were they doing with their time?  What kind of conversations were they having?  The more I thought about it as a subject, the more I saw a three-act play in my mind.
 How did you end up casting Kristen as the lead?
Well, it was quite a stroke of luck!  I was asked what my ultimate dream cast was, as I didn’t really have anyone in mind while I wrote it.  I chose Kristen as a guide to find the right fit, but she actually agreed to the role when we sent the script to her.  I think she’s phenomenal and I was obsessed by her performance in The Runaways.  She is a very open actress and so dedicated to creating a real and honest moment in every scene.  She wanted her character to be authentic and it was a dream to have her in this role.
How did you find your way from big-budget Hollywood film to working on this?
I worked my way up from PA level, working literally any job I could!  I got to work on these huge feature films and that became my training.  I suddenly started having a better idea of how stories were structured and how much to budget for different sets.  On the other hand, I had my film school mentality of how I wanted a certain frame to look and the aesthetics of a scene.  It all helped to hone my ideas as a filmmaker. 
What are your thoughts on the industry at the moment?
I love popcorn movies- big budget, mainstream features, but I also love Independent movies.  There doesn’t seen to be much in he middle, which is a shame.  At the same time, it is so much easier these days to watch films online, find out about film and build an audience about film.  The industry has changed but it’s important to see both sides.
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