After winning the BAFTA newcomer award, British producer Oliver Ridge has gone from strength to strength, in simultaneous months two of his feature films have been selected for the world’s most prestigious and biggest film festivals. Corner Office will open Tribeca Film Festival and Joyland will premiere in competition at Cannes Film Festival.
Joyland is set to be the first Pakistani made film to be in official selection at Cannes. The film directed by Saim Sadiq shares a story of a sexual revolution that sees a traditional Pakistani family upended when their youngest son joins an erotic dance troupe and falls for its ambitious, transexual starlet.
Oliver joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about his upcoming projects, his fascinating background, making his directorial debut, and much more.
Joyland is set to be the first Pakistani made film to be in official selection at Cannes. How exciting is it to be bringing this film to one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world?
Cannes is every filmmaker’s dream and Joyland is a powerful and exciting film coming out of Pakistan. I know all the filmmakers are proud that it is the country’s first ever entry in official competition.
Can you tell us more about the film and what director Saim Sadiq has done with this story?
Saim has carefully and meticulously crafted a story that is both beautiful and poetic but also brutal and tragic. It’s brave filmmaking, bringing up issues that matter and a community that needs their voices heard not just in Pakistan but all over.
Lahore Pakistan coupled with the incredible cinematography gives the film the perfect backdrop. The scope of the storytelling is so incredibly well executed – just wait till you see these dance numbers!
I’m proud to be a producer on Saim’s team.
You have also worked on Corner Office, which stars Jon Hamm and will screen at Tribeca Film Festival. What can audiences expect from this movie?
Corner Office is an intriguing dark comedy with a moustachioed Jon Hamm making you question what’s real and what’s not. Our director Joachim Back crafts a wonderfully stylised and purposely confusing film that I love.
You have a fascinating background, having graduated from the prestigious Drama Centre acting school in London where notable alumni include Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan. Can you tell us more about your background in the industry and how it shaped your outlook on film?
I started by interning in films. I was trusted with little more than telling the crew where to park or getting coffee but I soon found myself working my way up in the AD (assistant director) department. It allowed me to see film from the inside out and to understand the craft, but I wanted to understand the art – I started training in acting but soon found myself wanting to know more and more. Before I knew it I was auditioning for the Drama Centre – I got in and was studying in the footsteps of some of my heroes. That training really allowed me to understand film from the actor’s perspective and to establish a better connection with actors.
I recently observed some sessions at the actors studio in New York. I believe every filmmaker should take acting classes.
What do you look for in the people you collaborate with and the projects you work on?
I’m looking for stories that matter and that move my emotions when I read the script. I have sought so much more personal satisfaction from making artistic films and I’m happy I made that switch.
You are currently developing your directorial debut. What can you reveal about it and what your approach to directing will be like?
It’s a science-fiction love story called Synthetic set only a handful of years in the future. It follows the story of a reclusive man who falls in love with a runaway Android.
My acting background will very much dictate my approach to directing this film. One thing I won’t compromise on is rehearsals. They’re so rare in western independent films as they’re expensive, but in my opinion, they’re worth their weight in gold. Building up the relationship between the characters and allowing for a true understanding of what these characters’ needs, wants and desires are.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
I’ve made eleven feature films as a producer now and, though I want to keep producing films, I want to move into creating my own IP. Synthetic is the first step in that direction, but I have other ideas ready to go.
My vision is to create a balance of producing content from interesting filmmakers all over the world while also creating and nurturing my own. That is the dream.