The Apology Line

The Apology Line

Made by James Lees

2007, 10 Mins.


About The Filmmaker

With his first few short films James Lees quickly established himself as one of the UK’s brightest new filmmaking talents, picking up a string of prestigious international awards and being nominated for a European Film Academy Award. His films have been selected for the world’s biggest independent film festival, the Sundance Film Festival, at festivals all over Europe and the States and as far afield as Mexico and Australia.

Off the back of these shorts James set up The Hobo Film Company and was signed by Warp Films. His first TV commercial garnered equal acclaim and controversy as it shocked the television viewing public up and down the nation and shook people’s stuffy perceptions of the BBC. He now regularly directs commercials and music videos and is working on various short and feature length projects.


Feeling guilty? The film is based around the creation of a real-life ‘apology line’ where members of the public can anonymously confess to absolutely anything, over the telephone. The apologies of people from all over the UK are blended with beautiful visuals picking out moments that might otherwise pass us by, given new meaning by the apologies, which are sometimes funny, sometimes haunting, but always fascinating.


What do you think this film did in terms of helping your career?

Before The Apology Line I was working on this-and-that, various production and post roles. When Screen WM got behind the film and gave me the chance to make it, it was the start of getting back to what I really wanted to do and just going for it. Making the film is tough enough but you have to hit the festivals hard and really push yourself. Luckily the film went down really well and got a lot of exposure and festival success which in turn got me in front of the necessary people and in the necessary places.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt making the film?

To be confident and strong in your ideas and to trust in your gut feeling as it is your vision. But also to surround yourself with trustworthy and skilled collaborators who are able to understand and share that vision. The whole Apology Line project was something I worked closely with colleague William Bridges on and I was very determined to ensure I got a great cinematographer and editor on board. You absolutely need these people to make it happen and you have to ensure they are the best you can find. Some things you learn to compromise on, others you learn to never compromise on.

Did you use the short as an experimental platform (either in technique or content) – in what ways?

In many ways I did. With The Apology Line it was not about making a film that fitted into a certain form or genre. It was about making the film the project itself dictated. The images and structure gradually grew out of the audio material that was coming in to the Line and it was important to be open to this and create a form of audio and visual art that worked seamlessly together.

What are you doing now?

After my third short I got signed to Warp Films and am now directing music videos and commercials. I really enjoy working in both those areas and to be represented by one of my favourite film companies is a real privilege. I am still very focused on the shorts and features however and have shorts scripts and a feature in development. On the documentary side of things I am now developing a few very different longer form projects.

City of Cranes

City of Cranes

Made by Eva Weber

2007, 14 Mins

About The Filmmaker

Originally from Germany, Eva Weber is a London-based filmmaker working in both documentary and fiction.

Her films have screened at numerous international film festivals, amongst others, at Sundance, Edinburgh, SXSW, Chicago, and Thessaloniki. Her work has also been shown at art galleries and museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Eva is currently developing a number of long-form documentary projects.

Best Short Film, Northern Lights Film Festival 2008winner
Best Short Documentary, Los Angeles Film Festivalwinner
Jury Award for Best Short , Full Frame Documentary Film Festivalwinner
Hellenic Red Cross Audience Award for a Foreign Production under 45’, Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2008winner
Northern Lights Film Festival, December 2008
Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival, October 2008
Warsaw International Film Festival, October 2008
Brisbane International Film Festival, July/August 2008
Melbourne International Film Festival, July/August 2008
Silverdocs, June 2008
MoMA, ‘Outstanding Short Films from International Festivals’ screening, June 2008
Los Angeles Film Festival, June 2008
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, April 2008
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, March 2008
South by Southwest, March 2008
Cinequest, February/March 2008


A companion piece to our other film ‘The Solitary Life of Cranes’, ‘City of Cranes’ is a poetic look at the life and work of crane drivers. Originally made for Channel 4, ‘City of Cranes’ is divided into four chapters: ‘The City Above”, “The Last Topman”, “Ballet of Cranes” and “Solitary”; with each chapter accentuating a different aspect of the drivers’ world.


How did you find your contributors?

To begin with, I literally went to the biggest construction site near my home in East London, to see whether I could talk to the crane drivers there. The drivers turned out incredibly helpful putting me in touch not only with other drivers but also with their companies to help us get access for filming. Over the course of my research, I tried to talk to as many drivers as possible, before narrowing down the number for the audio interviews and subsequent filming.

Where has the film been seen and how did it get there?

The film was originally made for the 3-Minute Wonder strand on Channel 4 television in the UK but has also been aired on POV/PBS in the States.

Building on the success of my previous film ‘The Intimacy of Strangers’ on the festival circuit, we submitted the film to numerous international film festivals and the film has screened at over 50 festivals worldwide so far.

We also attended Docs for Sale at IDFA with the film, talking to a number of international distributors and sales agents, both in Europe and in the States, which were interested in distributing the film on our behalf. We eventually decided to go with Journeyman Pictures for worldwide sales. However, we are also self-distributing DVD copies of the film through our own website.

Did you use the film as a launch pad to a longer film on the same subject?

It was always my intention to make a companion piece to ‘City of Cranes’, entitled ‘The Solitary Life of Cranes’. Whilst ‘City of Cranes’ focuses on four different aspects of a crane drivers’ life, ‘The Solitary Life of Crane’ is more of a classical city symphony, showing 24 hours in the life of London seen through the eyes of crane drivers.

‘City of Cranes’ was in many ways the result of a chance conversation with a Channel 4 commissioning editor, after I had already started researching ‘The Solitary Life of Cranes’. We subsequently worked on both films simultaneously, trying to maximize our resources.

What are you doing now?

I am currently developing a number of feature-length documentary ideas, and have just received development funding for one of these films. Over the next few months, I am planning to travel to a number of different countries, looking for characters and developing the visual style of the film.

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