Our SXSW Film coverage led us to the Intercontinental Hotel, in Austin, Texas, where we interviewed Irish Filmmaker, Ken Wardrop. We sat down with Ken, out on the terrace of the Stephen F. bar and spoke with the filmmaker about his new documentary film, Making The Grade. Making The Grade premiered at SXSW this year and the documentary tells the story of relationships between students and teachers.
Ken Wardrop: “ Making The Grade is an exploration of the Irish Piano Grading System. You start at grade one and you go all the way through to grade 8 and unless you are going to become a professional musician, you know, that’s your plateau, in a way. So I thought, oh this is kind of an interesting narrative structure, you have a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Ken Wardrop: “Starting out on a project, you always have an idea of where it is going to land and have a conclusion. I didn’t want to make films where I get lucky or unlucky. I want to make films that I make my own luck. As the story unfolds, we get a sense of the relationships these children and adults have with their teachers and what music means to them.
Ken Wardrop: “My films are not point and shoot, they are not observational. They are very constructive so I never move the camera. I always have locked frames, it’s part of my style, it’s the thing I do. It’s a window of opportunity, I see these frames, as you know, you want the character to just be themselves. You don’t want to impose too much. I never stop and start, I just let things unfold. Where I think, if I am running around with a camera, there is this sense that there is a camera present.”
“My films tend to be low budget, so I have to make compromises. Previously, I always had a cinematographer and I couldn’t afford an editor. This time I decided to shoot this film myself and get an editor. Now, having an editor, I was able to go into the room fresh everyday and feel I have something to bring in. I don’t think I’ll ever do a project where I don’t have an editor. One day I hope to be able to afford a cinematographer and an editor! That’s the ideal world!”
Special thank you to our associate and creative producer and lead director of photography Christopher Palmer. The interview was conducted by Sourabh Chakraborty.