Raindance Film Festival 2021
Shorts Programme: Maverick Senses
SALT WATER TOWN has been selected for Leeds International Film Festival, Norwich Film Festival, London Short Film Festival and was nominated for Best Northern Short at Bolton International Film Festival.
Liam runs a failing caravan park with his father Glenn. When an insurance inspector reveals that the land they own is worthless as a result of rising sea levels, Liam must convince his father to abandon his lifelong home. Their conflict over control of the park leads to desperate measures.
Hey Dan, it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
I’ve been doing well thanks. Was lucky enough to still have some work coming in over the past 12 months and now excited to be back in the real word touring Salt Water Town round some really exciting festivals.
Has this time offered you the chance to find some new inspiration or opportunities?
For sure, I mean we had our funding for SWT accepted right as the pandemic hit so it gave us the myself and the team a nice chunk of time to really get to grips with pre-production and to dedicate ourselves in a way which we would never usually have time for on a project like this. I also ended up taking on a series of music videos and a trilogy of shorts all using contemporary dance so I definitely feel like I found a new niche there!
Congratulations on having Salt Water Town at Raindance 2021, what does it mean to you to be at the festival?
Thank you so much! It really means the world to me. When applying it was always a kind of hit and hope festival that we never thought we would be accepted into. The level of work on display here from the other filmmakers is ridiculous and I really can’t believe that our film is playing alongside them. It’s such an honour!
Can you tell me a little bit about Salt Water Town, what inspired your screenplay?
Salt Water Town was written by Jack Sherratt and myself about two years ago. The initial idea stemmed from an article Jack read about the rising sea levels in the Welsh town of Fairbourne. It was devastating to read that the people there were having to accept that their land and their businesses were now worthless as they were due to be swallowed by the ocean within the next couple of generations. We thought this was such an important issue within the UK not being talked about that we had to write something.
Utilising themes we had previously explored in our last short ‘Trucker’s Atlas’ of toxic masculinity and with a very strong aesthetic in my mind we headed off to the Welsh coast, locked ourselves in a caravan for a week during torrential rain and came got the story down on paper.
What was the biggest challenge you faced making Salt Water Town?
I think the biggest challenge I faced personally was making these characters jump off the page. They were such rich and well drafted characters but I knew that it would take a really fantastic performance and a lot of work from me to bring them to life. I was so fortunate to work with both Owen and Tommy that from my first conversation with them my life was made so much easier.
They were so passionate about the project and so eager to learn more about their characters that it made the process such a dream. We worked in real depth on the characters, looking at everything from jackets their character bought thirty years ago to impress the neighbours to hoodies and fake gold chains. By the time the cameras rolled they knew their characters better than I think Jack and I ever did.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
After leaving school I initially studied Fine Art and Painting at Central St. Martins as I always has a huge desire to be an artist, but I came to realise that what I was most interested in was telling stories, and that film was a medium that I felt more comfortable doing that in. So when I moved back to Manchester I began making short films and found myself really enjoying the process, I met an amazing group of people here and without their desire to succeed in this world I don’t think I ever would have made it this far.
How much has your approach to your short films changed since your debut short?
I think that with ‘Trucker’s Atlas’ I knew one thing I wanted to say and I wanted to really make sure that the audience took that home with them. Which is a completely fine way to go about making a film. But I think with SWT I realised that we can give the audience a little more credit and float a couple interesting ideas through the film and let them grab them themselves. I think that came through in the script (in dialogue and plot) but also in the actors performances and in cutting the film too. I wanted to make an audience work a little bit and take them on a journey rather than placing something in front of them. I hope this worked, we’ll have to see.
"...I have found that so long as I am always driving myself forward that work and great projects have always found me or me found them."
Do you have any advice or tips you would offer fellow directors?
I would have to say the most important piece of advice is don’t stop making work. Don’t lose momentum. Its really easy as you grow older (not sure if I can really say this at 26) to stop making work or to pause or to think you’ll stop and take stock. But I have found that so long as I am always driving myself forward that work and great projects have always found me or me found them.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away Salt Water Town?
As I said earlier, there is hopefully a few things that people will take away from this and if I told you now then I would be being hypocritical of my previous answer. I guess people will just have to watch the film and decide for themselves.