Empire Presents… Sir Kenneth Branagh - Excerpted from Advertising Week Europe 2015: A Delegate's Diary
“Prepare to take advantage of the possibility of having good luck.”
“We’ve saved the best until last”, said Empire's News Editor & Film 2014 Presenter, Chris Hewitt, as he took to the stage in BAFTA 195’s Princess Anne Theatre. Sure enough, this was a seminar not to miss, as actor, director, producer, screenwriter and three-time BAFTA winner Sir Kenneth Branagh offered an eloquent and engaging insight into his craft.
“The Princess Anne Theatre is woven into my professional career”, Branagh explained, as he recalled attending various screenings in the theatre over the years. “When you’re watching yourself in something though”, he continued, “you’ve got to watch it twice. The first time is very disturbing. The first time you don’t see anything because you’re a nervous wreck. The second time you can watch it properly.”
After a short clip of 'Cinderella' was played, Hewitt and Branagh began to discuss the film - Branagh’s most recent directorial project. With a script written by Chris Weitz, and an all-star cast including Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and Derek Jacobi, 'Cinderella' is sure to be truly enchanting. Understandably, Branagh’s decision to direct the fairytale film, after being at the helm of such weighty blockbusters such as 'Thor' and 'Jack Ryan', took the filmmaking community by surprise. Branagh revealed that it was the thematic contrast between 'Cinderella' and his previous films that drew him to the former: “as a filmmaker, I fancied playing with magic,” he said, “I wanted to turn a pumpkin into a coach!”
From revealing how he navigated the search for an actress to play the title role, to explaining how he re-worked Disney’s 1950 version of 'Cinderella' to create a fresh and relatable film, Branagh went in to great detail about his latest venture.
Discussing his directorial style, Branagh explained how, at the beginning of the shoot, he gathered his crew together and delivered a speech about time-saving and time-wasting on set: a distinction he expressed through his theory of “earth minutes” and “movie minutes”. He spoke candidly about his hands-on approach to filmmaking, and told the audience how, when he directs, he rarely sits by the monitor. “I like to be very close to what’s happening… you need be able to smell what’s going on on set”, he laughed. Since finishing shooting 'Cinderella' in 2013, Branagh explained that it has been truly astounding watching “from a ringside seat” how Disney have marketed and distributed the film.
Branagh’s advice for young performers? “Try and remove the feeling that anything is a first day. That’s why I only ever start shoots on a Thursday afternoon!”