This year’s London Raindance Film Festival sees a multitude of films on offer, from horror to comedy, and everything between. Starring in one of the festival’s more uplifting films, City Slacker, is Fiona Gillies as tough but vulnerable Amanda, a mix that attracted Gillies to the role.
“What’s not to like? She’s very successful, high-powered, pretty tough and pretty crazy.
“It’s very easy I suppose to see her as a one dimensional character, the hard-talking business woman, and that’s how she should come across to an extent, but she is really a vulnerable person.
“Part of her life has not been lived for years, she’s been in that office seventy hours a week for years and so the majority of her life has not been explored, so those sides of her were really interesting to flesh out.”
Amanda’s controlled yet unfulfilling life is thrown into chaos however when her chance for children is put in jeopardy, a situation which at first does not worry her.
“When we she decides to go out and have a kid, she doesn’t think that it will impact her life in any way, certainly not her career. She thinks it’s going to be like everything else in her life, she wants it therefore she gets it.
“If she thinks she wants a baby, she’ll get a baby, and she’ll deal with it. And then of course that’s when it all starts to fall apart.”
And fall apart it does, as Amanda must quickly rebuild her life around the possibilities of a family.
Staring alongside Fiona Gillies is the reassuring presence of British acting legend Tom Conti, who wonderfully plays Amanda’s bumbling father Ray. Together, the two mold an intriguing and unique familial relationship of loving confrontation, one which Gillies believes played a special part in bringing the Oscar-nominated actor to the film.
“I know that’s what brought him (Conti) into the script, he liked the idea of that relationship that they examined because it changes so completely from the beginning to the end, it’s a massive journey.
“She is very similar to her father; he was a driven, focused man but she had very little contact with him and so its nice to have that opportunity then later in life to rebuild that.
“I think you don’t really see that relationship in film, I certainly haven’t seen it in anything and I really like it.”
Aside from Conti, Gillies also stars alongside Geoffrey Streatfield, tasked with portraying her lovable onscreen romantic interest, and who proved more than up to the task.
“He’s great, he’s a very easy comfortable person. He’s got a great sense of humour and I think that’s always the key in those situations.
“There isn’t masses of rehearsal time, there isn’t masses of getting to know someone, you’ve got to jump in and look for shorthand, so he was great.”
The film itself is a blend of several differing locations around London. From shiny office buildings to warmly framed parks, City Slacker covers almost the entirety that the capital has to offer, a fact that Gillies is all to appreciative of.
“Being Londoners, and London film-makers, you want to use your city. You walk around and you see so many fantastic sights and interesting shapes and beautiful colours and you think that would work so well onscreen.”
However, with all the locations to use, the shoot was hectic to say the least.
“We were hugely ambitious, I think we had 17 locations in 16 days, we were moving around a lot.”
The low budget of the film no doubt caused the short amount of time within which the film was shot. In fact, to have such a film available for viewing is a rare treat for Londoners, and everyone else, something that is not lost on Fiona.
“Raindance is a fantastic festival, and integral to something like this.
“We were nominated for Best UK feature and once they select you, it’s like stepping into a swimming pool after a long time, it’s so refreshing.
“The whole idea of an independent film festival in London is great. We’ve got the BFI and other things but all for much bigger stuff that’s studio-backed. This is a low budget with independent investors with lots of people getting involved and pulling together to make a film.”
“That’s how Raindance works, they encourage people, they’re grass-roots and they bring you up and support you.”
With the support of Raindance, City Slacker is sure to go from strength to strength.
Catch it at Apollo Cinema Picidilly Circus on Friday 5 October or Sunday 7 October.