Billy Chester 
No Answer 
Nominations: £1000 Jury Award Best Film / Best Cinematography
Screening Session: Feb 28 | Nominated Films
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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No Answer is a short film about a single father forced to leave his daughter home alone to avoid losing his job. A decision that might have cost him more than he expected.

Hi Billy thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

These have definitely been interesting times. But in all honesty, I have been making the best of it. It has given me the chance to spend more time with my wife and children, and even focus on myself a bit more. In turn, all this family time has fuelled my creative side more than expected. Excited for the year to come, I’ll continue to embrace the healthy balance of work and family I've grown to love. 

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Absolutely. As you can see in the previous question, that is one of the biggest outcomes of this past year. It has been a mind clearing experience. A chance to stop and smell the flowers (Quite literally). This has been like fuel for my creative mind. 

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

It's always an honour to have your work showcased. As first time director, I was doubtful that we would get any traction in the festival circuit. So it was quite a surprise to get the response we did.

Can you tell me a little bit about No Answer, how did this film come about?

No Answer is actually my first narrative short that I wrote and directed. I've worked with many different formats (Doc, Commercial, animation) but never anything this personal. 

I've alway had the desire to pursue narrative film, but it always seemed out of reach. So I made the decision in 2019 that I would make it happen. I began writing the film in October of 2019 and had a final script soon after. I tried my best to limit the project to the resources I had available and kept the story within the budget I had in mind. AKA, no explosions or car chases etc. (Not that I would have gone that route any way). 

Working alongside my friend and DP on the film, we were able to take the script and bring it to life fairly fast. We began production in late January, just two months after the script was finalised. We had shot over 2 long days with just enough time to get what we needed. 

We literally shot a month before the world shut down because of Covid, So we got lucky in that regard. Post-production took place during the lock-down, so we were able to put people to work that weren’t currently working. Which worked out really well.

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?

I would have to say my own self confidence. I have been writing scripts for years, but taking that step to bring them to life has always been a hurtle. Film lives on forever, and it can be hard to get over that aspect when making your first film. 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I would say no. The film in itself is the best version it could have been with the resources we had. Instead of thinking about what I would have done differently, I like to think about how I will do it differently for my next project. And that list is pretty long. 

Describe your film in three words?

A good film… haha

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

It's been around as early as I can remember. But my parents have nailed it a little closer to when I was 4 years old. One of my earliest memories was watching Jurassic Park with my dad and being truly amazed at the world they created. At the time I thought it had to be real (a 4 year old), but my father explained to me the magic of film and the rest was history. From watching it, to later buying my own camera (at 9) and making it. It’s always been a huge part of my life (Both personally and professionally). 

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

Just do it - Nike. Haha jk. In reality, it has been not to overthink anything. Just make it happen with the resources you have available. If it’s filmmaking, business, or whatever. If you don't start with what you have now, you won’t start when you have everything you think you need. 

"Reach out to some local filmmakers, or talent in your area just to connect with them."

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

Of course, but I don't think that should be the goal. Just tell the story you want to tell, as long as it’s personal to you. If you're lucky, people like you will love the story you have to tell (even if it doesn’t push any boundaries). 

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

I'd just echo the advice I gave above. Also it’s important to get out and do it. Reach out to some local filmmakers, or talent in your area just to connect with them. It's super useful to have someone that has already been down this road.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from No Answer?

We are all victims of our own circumstances. I hope this film gives people a better understanding that we are all in different stages in life with different problems. And not to judge people from the surface, but stop and give them a chance to tell their story. Maybe you’ll be the one that has the Answer they have been searching for.

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