An adolescent boy attempts to untangle his memories of a mysterious infestation, the unravelling of his father, and the little creatures inside us all.
Hey Charles, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Great thanks, I’m just in Italy at the moment for a film festival and writing the next film.
All These Creatures won Palme d’Or Best Short Film 2018, what did it mean to you to get this award and recognition for your film?
For me it was really meaningful to just screen in Cannes and be a part of that world. Winning the Palme d’Or is maybe tough for me to process, I’m slowly getting there. It’s just the biggest honour, so something to hopefully live up to.
Does winning an award like this add additional pressure on you as a filmmaker?
It does, but it’s better than no pressure. The anxiety of having no one care is worse I think.
How did it feel to have All These Creatures selected for TIFF 2018?
TIFF was the number one goal after Cannes. It is a great festival and a very different experience. I was really hoping to be selected for our North American premiere so am really grateful to Cameron, Jason, Lisa and the team for selecting it
Are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
I think more excitement than anything. Once the film was selected the pressure was kind of off, I was just happy to be there.
Tell me a little bit about All These Creatures, how did the film come about?
I just felt the need to write something more sincere than my other films. My daughter had just been born and I think this also may have had an unconscious influence.
"stick to your guns and remember why you want to tell the story in the first place."
What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
I’ve always been kind of obsessed with these ideas. I think if you have a parent that is volatile or violent, you have to separate yourself from that impact and find some kind of deeper understanding as you get older – was this person ‘bad', or damaged themselves or mentally ill? And mental illness is an incredibly important issue that hasn’t been expired very well on screen.
When I was an adolescent I was kind of consumed but the same things as the lead character in the film. You wonder, if that’s coming before me, what am I going to turn into and how much control do I have over that? These are just kind of lingering obsessions of mine, and they’ve never really left me but my perspective on them has changed somewhat.
I also think all of us reckon with these mythic images we have of our parents as we grow older. We try to find ways of seeing them with more compassion, and as real people outside of who they were in our memories.
What has been the most challenging part of making this film been?
There wasn’t much about making this film that wasn’t incredibly challenging. Almost everyone in the film has never been on camera before, most of the cast are under 15, we had a lot of locations (one of which was bulldozed to the ground just before shooting), plus animals, insects, shooting on film – and all without a budget. But I worked with some wonderful people.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes, always really. Kind of obsessed with movies from before I can remember. At first just the magic of them, but later they became a kind of way for me to help articulate these more complex emotions I was having grown up and sort of help me to understand myself and the world.
What was the first film you saw that inspired you to become a director?
I think going back to when I was about 6 or 7 Singing in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers were movies that I was a big fan of and wanted to be a part of, but I don’t think I ever saw it as something I could peruse. However, I was about 12 when I saw Goodfellas and that was a complete life-altering experience at the time and I knew I’d have to find a way to do whatever that film did to me.
How much has your approach to writing and directing changed since your debut film?
So much. My early films were really more like exercises. Just trying to make something, rent equipment, piece something together that could be called a film. It was also a very expensive process so each time was like it was going to be my last chance so I was very tightly wound and exacting. Now I try to be more open. I find every time I admit I’m not so sure of the answer something better comes along.
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow writer/directors?
I don’t know if I’m in any position to give advice to anyone. I think for myself my films got a lot better when I started making them from my gut then my head.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
A feeling of compassion and a less judgmental view of others and ourselves.