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British Shorts Berlin 2019
Bryan M. Ferguson
Toxic Haircut & Fate

Festival Screening / Midnight Movies (only for 18s and older)

Documentary / Animation / Experimental

Sat 19.1. 00:00 / Sputnik Kino 1

FATE follows one woman’s vampiric rampage after she develops an appetite for blood. TOXIC HAIRCUT is a 90-second horror odyssey about getting a haircut.


Hi Bryan, thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for British Shorts 2019?


I think so – having said that I’m actually neck deep in prep for a music video here in Scotland, I should probably dust off my suitcase and pack for Berlin.


Do you ever get any nerves ahead of a festival screening?


Not as much as I used to – I’ve been doing this for almost a decade so I don’t get nervous anymore, but there is a shock of adrenaline every time you show your work to a room of strange eyeballs.


How does it feel to be at the festival with Fate & Toxic Haircut?


It’s exciting to be at any film festival, to be honest, and even more so when your work is part of the programme. I’ve screened at British Shorts a couple of times but this year I’m finally able to fly out to Berlin and experience it which I’m pretty excited about.


Tell me a little bit about Fate & Toxic Haircut how did these projects come about? 


TOXIC HAIRCUT was an experiment – it falls under my ANATOMICAL GUNK banner, which is a series of short low/no-budget films that explore outsiders, strange human behaviours (subcultures, fetishism) and askew perspectives on the human body. With this one, I wanted to challenge myself into making a story that could be told with no dialogue within 90 seconds. I really like it, a lot of folks seem to scratch their heads when the credits roll but that’s a reaction I’m used to.


FATE is a short film/music video I did for the band Boy Harsher – they’re a band I’ve loved for a while so I was pretty buzzed that they were keen to work with me after I pitched them the concept. I’ve always wanted to put my own spin on a Vampire story and when I heard the track things just naturally fused together. 


What was the inspiration behind your projects?


For FATE I was inspired a lot by Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, Lynne Ramsay’s Morvern Callar and Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day.


What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing Fate & Toxic Haircut to life?


The biggest challenge on TOXIC HAIRCUT was the animation part of the film – my fiancée and I took turns at drawing over the video frame by frame until our hands cramped up. It was such a tedious process but the results made it worthwhile.


For FATE - We only had 4 weeks to complete the film from writing stages through to the delivery of the finished film. Which is a crazy deadline and the biggest challenge. I pretty much run myself into the ground because this was the 3rd music video I had made within a 4 month period – but I’m really happy with how it turned out, however I’m still scrubbing blood off the walls of my apartment.


Have you always been interested in animation?


Yeah, I used to draw a lot of weird/grotesque cartoons when I was growing up and my eyes are always glued to things like Dr Katz or Beavis and Butt-Head. I really loved what MTV used to do with Liquid TV, that type of animation was wild. Animation is definitely something I’d love to explore more of in my work.


What is it about filmmaking that interests you so much?


The long hours, the lack of funding, the anxiety. I love all of it – no idea why.


As a filmmaker how important is the collaborative process for you? 


For me it’s crucial. We’re all involved to make something great and if someone has an idea that could better the finished thing then I’m all ears.


How much has your approach to your work changed since your debut short film?


My approach has changed quite a bit in the last year. I used to take on numerous if not all roles behind the cameras on my older shorts, but my style has developed greatly on recent projects that I feel I’m in a new period of my work. I’ve brought on a cinematographer, George Harwood, which I thought I’d never do but feel so glad to have found a collaborator that’s on the same wavelength and understands what I’m trying to do. I’ve also started working with a producer, Aidan O’Mara, on the next music video, which has lightened the load for me quite a bit. So I’m finding my approach now is to be more open – it’s really helping with my stress levels.


Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow filmmaker?


Find another job!


What are you currently working on?


I’ve got a couple of music videos I’m working on at the moment and I’m in the early stages of a new short film which could be a fun look at Satanism.


And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your work?


Nervous energy.

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