15th ÉCU Film Festival 2020
Since the death of her mother, Lilah has begrudgingly taken on her mum’s role in the family home. Lilah makes the choice to flee with Jimmy, putting her family’s forgiveness to the ultimate test.
Hi Christian thank you for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?
Not easy. But it has been a good time to reevaluate why I make films and where I want to go with my filmmaking. I guess when we are struck with the reality of death it creates a sense of urgency, life is precious and we must seize the moment.
As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative inspiration?
Definitely, I am currently in the process of adapting my short film 'Daughter' into a feature film and the coronavirus might have a place in the feature film- yet to be decided.
Your film Daughter has been selected for the 2020 ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?
It is a great privilege and we are extremely grateful to be part of this festival. It really is a shame we can't be in Paris for the screenings.
Can you tell me a little bit about Daughter, what was the inspiration behind your film?
Daughter is a retelling of ‘The Parable of The Lost Son’: a story of forgiveness and family. The origins of the film were influenced by one of my personal connections, a friend with Pakistani heritage, and their story being similar to that of the Parable. After extensive research I discovered similar stories to that of my friend and realised that this is an aspect of modern multi-cultural British society that needs to be explored and talked about!
Alongside the adaptation, due to my half Swedish and half British background I have often found myself emotionally displaced growing up in England, a feeling, I discovered, that was shared by my British Pakistani friends. I felt empathy and I wanted to create a film that touched on these struggles.
Another area was religion; growing up as a Christian, I have been subjected to religious extremities within the church and wanted to touch on the destructive power of extreme religious beliefs and how it can be used as escapism from painful emotions and realities. I have tried to capture this struggle within Nasir, Lilah’s brother in the film.
Overall it has been a wonderful journey making these fictional characters come to life on screen and I have loved journeying with Lilah, she’s got a sense of bravery and passion that I long for!
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
The scene where Lilah's brother confronts her and the father's forgiveness. That afternoon was a nightmare, we were massively behind schedule, we were dealing with difficult neighbours and we had to cut a load of shots. On reflection this scene needed much more time to get the coverage I wanted, but I think we got away with it.
Daughter stars Amita Suman as Lilah what was the experience like working with her?
An incredible actress and a wonderful human being- an absolute pleasure working with her.
Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently?
I would have spent even longer on the script; the script can always be better. I would have raised more money to have more shoot days.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I wasn't able to make films until my first camera when I was 14 but instantly loved the process of filmmaking. Before then I had always had a passion for storytelling which was initially explored in acting or creating art.
"...I am fortunate to have had some great collaborators in my life."
How important is the collaborative nature of filmmaking?
Collaboration is why I love filmmaking, the ability to work with all different types of creators is exciting and invigorating- it's why I enjoy my job so much.
Has your approach to your films changed much since your debut short?
I mean there is no comparison really, I was such a novice. I came from an acting background so I was naive to the technical sides of filmmaking (and I am still learning!) - so that's definitely an area where my approach has changed. Knowing what I know now regarding equipment, I would definitely have changed how I made my first short film. Over the last year I have been editing a lot of my projects- this actually has been very helpful with understanding what might work and what might not work in post production.
What has been the best piece of advice you have been given?
Give yourself more time, think how much time you need and then triple it. Alongside this, slow down, try and be able to listen and see what is in front of you- we so often are distracted by the busyness of doing.
Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers?
Enjoy every second you have on set, it's a privilege to be directing. Be kind and loving to those around you, we are just creating make believe, it's not the end of the world if something goes wrong and usually there is always a solution.
What are you currently working on?
A short film called 'Romina' about a woman suffering from mental health issues and adapting 'Daughter' into a feature film.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Daughter?
Family. As I imagine everyone is experiencing this pandemic, family is so important. Love them to pieces while you can.