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15th LICHTSPIELKLUB
SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 2022 
Interview

Alana Hutton-Shaw  
Finding Dad 
Comedy / Drama / Animation
Sun 23.1. 20:00 / City Kino Wedding

wearemadwomen.com

Anita sets out with her best friend to find her real father, after the death of her mother. FINDING DAD is a heartfelt quest for one woman's sense of identity, as she faces challenges of loss, class and race.

 

Discover more about the film, filmmakers & follow their amazing journey on instagram: @findingdadfilm.

Hi Alana thank you for talking to The New Current, these have been some very strange times, how have you been holding up?

Well it’s been nuts hasn’t it?! It’s been a year or two of feeling everything; ups and downs, a sense of too fast and too slow, incredibly restricted, in other ways the experience and absence from normal life was strangely freeing. Like many others I feel like my life has turned upside down yet also absolutely nothing has changed at all. Except for I got a dog, called Bagel, that was pretty big.

Has this time offered you any opportunities to take up some long-dormant hobbies?

Actually yes in lockdown I took up a few hobbies; talking to friends hanging out my window, studying ayurveda - which I always wanted to do and never had time, and like everyone else in the UK trying to make banana bread.

Congratulations on Finding Dad being selected for British Shorts 2022, what does it mean to be part of such an amazing line-up of short films?

Thanks mate! Oh it’s amazing - for the film to be in such a cool venue as Kino City Wedding, in front of a bunch of very accomplished & versatile judges, and most importantly, I can’t wait to see the other films - especially ‘Peregrine’ - even though I work in Live action I love animation!

How did Finding Dad come about, what inspired this film?

Well... That’s kind of a big question. This story is actually my story... Just before Christmas 2020, at thirty years old, I finally found the courage to go in search of my father, a man I had never met and knew little about. With my best friend by my side, I knocked on his door (and a bunch of others!) and asked him if he was my dad... The man who stood before me looked just like me!

Writing the script has been cathartic. It helped me process this strange and extraordinary experience, I suddenly understood the importance of true friendship, and that family is so much more than blood.

Did you have any apprehensions about writing a screenplay that came from such a personal place?

Oh yeah BIG TIME. I felt like my entire heart was on the screen, I revealed a part of me that is often well hidden - even to the people who know me the best. I was revealing a little girl looking for her Dad, and a woman who didn’t feel like she belonged anywhere.

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"This film is a celebration of friendship at every turn; on and off screen!"

Because of this personal connection was it important to allow yourself (and your actors) some flexibility with your script or did you prefer to stick to what you had planned and written?

Yes for sure, flexibility is always important, and my two leading ladies brought a lot to the piece - Genesis Lynea actually renamed her character to ‘dionne’! Equally, there were just a few lines which were stolen from the first meeting with my actual dad that I wanted to keep sacred... But I think both the actors playing daughter and father felt that intuitively without having to mention it.

The locations you used in Finding Dad are also incredibly important and add an extra layer of authenticity and honesty to your film, how far in the writing process did you realise you wanted to use these locations?

I always knew I wanted to film at ‘Barney’s pie and mash shop’ which features at the end of the ‘1st act’ let’s say, it’s such a cool no- frills east London aesthetic. For a while, I didn’t even imagine it would be possible to shoot at the real houses I looked for until the neighbour's started to rally behind the film, and then I thought wow what if they actually would let us use their houses? - and in Covid times!

What would you say has been the most valuable lessons you have taken from this whole experience?

The value of friendship. This film is a celebration of friendship at every turn; on and off screen! It’s a story about two best friends, it has created new friendships, it’s brought back old friendships.

It’s a celebration of friends that become family... And about family that may, eventually, become friends.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?

Absolutely. In my opinion, the best films tell the truth in some way and in order to really tell the truth we must push the boundaries - especially our own.

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Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

When I was a kid I fell in love with the film ‘HOOK’ - Spielberg created a world that I was completely mesmerised by, his portrayal of J.M. Barrie's novel made me cry then, and it still does now. I want to create original worlds, like his, that make people feel a sense of magic, and feel there’s a place where they belong.

For any emerging filmmaker out there do you have any tips or advice you would offer them?

In the words of Michaela Coel: “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,"... “I dare you.”

And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Finding Dad?

I hope they see this as a story of empowerment. FINDING DAD is a reminder that we each have the power to create our own family. It’s a film about loss, but it’s mostly about being found.