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BFI Future Film Festival 2023

Canned (7 of 12).jpeg

Elen, a mid 20s raver whose drug and sex-fuelled lifestyle no longer covers the cracks in her mental psyche, tries desperately to find something hidden in her house. Meanwhile, Vince, a proud yet naive softboi, attempts to teach Elen the meaning of love.


Hi Clemente, it’s great to get to talk with you, how has everything been going?


Yeah, really good thanks! Just out here making movies.


Canned won ‘Best Emerging Talent’ at New Renaissance Film Festival and your previous short MUDLARK got nominated for ‘Best UK Short’ at Raindance in 2021, what did it mean to you to get such an amazing reaction to your work?


It’s nice yeah. I mean really I just make films that I would personally go and watch but it’s cool that other people also find them interesting. Like most people, I have been rejected more times then I can count so it’s nice to receive some recognition. It gives me confidence that I should keep going and that hard work pays off.


You also got to be part of Art Speaks Out at this year’s United Nations Cop 27 Climate Change Conference with Through The Motions, commissioned by Britten Pears Arts, what was that experience like for you?


Also really cool. It was the first time a project of ours was funded so it was great to be able to pay my friends and the people involved properly. The opportunity came through my immensely talented partner Maddie Ashman who led the project with her incredible music composition. Having it shown at COP27 was a surprise for sure. I remember when the email came through I thought, “Damn ok now this is legit. We must have made something good if we are showing at the UN”


Congratulations on having Canned being at the Future Film Festival 2023, how does it feel to be part of such an incredible line-up of short films?


I can’t wait. I get to tell people my film is showing at the BFI??? Jheeeez.  I’ve always been huge fan of the BFI and all its initiatives to get people making and showing their films. I look forward to seeing and meeting everyone else and their films too.


How important are festivals like Future Film Festival in creating a platform for short films?


Very important. Making films is one thing but getting them seen and having a place to meet other creatives is invaluable. Unfortunately this industry is full of gatekeepers who don’t want to see other people do great things. BFI Future Fest is the opposite. It champions young film makers and helps them move forward in their careers.

"I was terrible at any academic subjects at school so shout out to my parents who still supported me when I jumped from believing I would have a future in music, then art, then fashion, then acting etc."

Can you tell me how Canned came about, what inspired your latest film?


The idea came about when I got a concussion working on a building site. A hit to my head put me in bed for a week where I lay in complete darkness with no phone and no distractions. All I had were my weird, delirious thoughts and a distinct memory of the film Run Lola Run which I had watched the night before the accident. The themes in the film are all things I had experienced in my early 20s.


With a film like Canned do you allow yourself much flexibility with your text/actors or do you prefer to stick to a set idea you have planned out?


I think the best directors and creatives are those who remain flexible and are willing to listen to people around them. Obviously you need a vision in your head to go by but making films is the most collaborative job in the world so I don’t get when people ignorantly stick to their ideas and their ideas alone (as if they’re the reincarnation of Bergman or something).


You have so many talented people around you with ideas just as good or better than you, why would you not make use of that?


Does your background as an actor help influence your directing approach and build a closer relationship with your cast?


I guess so. I don’t think about it too much but it definitely helps knowing the other side. As an actor I really need a director to not just tell me what to do, but also help me understand why I’m doing it. So when I direct I try and assist the actors in any way I can to achieve what we’re going for.


What where the biggest challenges you faced making Canned?


We shot the whole thing in 1 day with barely 1 week prep and a flimsy £1000 I had saved up from my day job. Also the apartment we used was completely empty so I had to rent a van and drive across London the day before, picking up as much furniture and junk as I could. The whole thing absolutely shattered me, but luckily I had great people around me, big shout out to my long time collaborator, friend and cinematographer Toby Elwes who will help me make something no matter what.


Looking back, what would you say have been the most valuable lessons you’ve taken from the experience?


If you want it, you can get it. This project proved to me that with enough drive and passion you can do whatever you want. With the right people and a good idea anything is possible, even with 100 obstacles facing you.


Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?


Of course… If you think your idea is cool someone else will too. If you have little to no budget, make that a stylistic choice. If you make a bad film get over it and make another one and please PLEASE don’t play it safe and churn out a film that looks and feels like those which already exist.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


I have always loved film. I had been watching them for years with and years and one day I thought to myself “damn, wouldn’t it be cool if I did that.” I grew up with an annoyingly broad yet shallow set of creative skills. A real “jack of all trades master of none” kinda guy. I was terrible at any academic subjects at school so shout out to my parents who still supported me when I jumped from believing I would have a future in music, then art, then fashion, then acting etc.

When I realised that directing film actually facilitates all of the above I knew I had found the right path. To be a good director you need to have at least a little knowledge in all the departments you work with.

Has your approach to your films changed since you started out?


I started out real serious. Serious films about serious subjects. But the more I develop the more I realise that life is too short not to smile and have fun. The world is already depressing enough so I don’t see the need to be making traumatic movies.  Being creative is enjoyable so why treat it like something else. All my favourite films are the ones where I can see the director enjoying themselves.


What top 3 tips would you offer emerging filmmakers?


Don’t waste time waiting for people to help you, if you have an idea just make it. Do it on your phone if you have to.


Stop comparing yourself to others, only you can do you. If you stop caring about how people see you and start making work regardless of recognition, the recognition will come.


Know that your first few films will most likely be absolute trash, haha. Don’t put so much pressure on making your stuff amazing. Do it for you.  Like anything, nothing is perfect immediately, you just gotta keep going till its good.


And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Canned?


“Mmmmm I liked that film, makes me want to make one too”

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