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19th ÉCU Film Festival, Paris

"In my early career I had it drilled into me to shoot to edit so this was advantageous when shooting on film because we only had enough film for a very limited number of takes per shot."

Festival Screening:

Saturday, 20 APRIL / SALLE  DEUX / 14:41

April 14, 2024  

A teenage American soldier survives D-Day whilst a Czechoslovakian boy suffers at Auschwitz before being forced on a death march west. Battling through Europe, the soldier discovers and liberates Buchenwald where the boy is fighting for his life. They form a friendship that lasts a lifetime.


Hi Geoff, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current. Are you looking forward to screening Daylight Follows at ÉCU this year? 


Yes, 20th April can’t come soon enough! I’m incredibly excited to see Daylight Follows up on the big screen for its world Premiere. 


As this is going to be your world premiere are there any nerves ahead of your screening in Paris? 


I’m more excited than nervous I think although any nerves I have will be from watching the reaction of the audience. It will be great to sit back and enjoy the experience in the theatre after all the hard work getting it to this stage. 


How important are festivals like ÉCU in continuing to champion and supporting independent films and filmmakers? 


Prestigious independent festivals like ÉCU play a major role in the festival circuit and are vitally important for filmmakers. ÉCU is a wonderful example of a festival that champions filmmakers from around the world. This is why our team are thrilled to be having our world premiere at ÉCU. Bring it on!


Can you tell me a little bit about how Daylight Follows came about, what was it about Irving Roth and Rick Carrier’s story that connected with you? 


Paul Mortlock (Producer & DOP) who I created this film with approached me to see if I was interested in interviewing a lady who had an incredible story surviving against all odds the horrors of WW2. I agreed, and this unexpectedly triggered a journey across Europe and the US interviewing multiple people who had survived WW2. During our travels I met both Rick Carrier (Soldier) and Irving Roth (Survivor) and was left stunned by their respective accounts of their teenage years and how their paths had crossed in the most beautiful moment against the most sickening backdrop of WW2. 


How soon after discovering their incredible true story did you realise you wanted to make it into a film? 


I Knew once I had wrapped the first shoot with the guys that I had to make this film. It just resonated with me from those first interactions. Their special connection had to be shared with the world and I have had the absolute privilege of telling their story. Originally the film was developed and written as a 90 minute full feature film so now off the back of the success of the short version our goal is to create the full feature film that Rick and Irving’s lives truly deserve.


When working on a film like this how much flexibility with the screenplay do you allow yourself and your cast? 


I certainly allowed some flexibility with the cast because I trusted them and I had long conversations in great detail about how Rick and Irving would have been feeling and behaving in certain scenes. The cast had a full understanding of what I was trying to achieve with each scene but they were given freedom to fully express themselves. I was less flexible with myself regarding the screenplay because aspects of each scene had to be exact due to the testimony of Rick and Irving. 

Daylight Follows was shot on 35mm. How vital was the creative collaboration between you and your DOP Paul Mortlock to ensure you got the right tone and vibe for the film? 


The creative collaboration between Paul and I is the reason the film works and is executed in the manner it is. We had agreed from the very early stages of development how we wanted the film to look and feel and were very much on the same page. I think having that level of understanding makes a big difference to a film.


Had you always intended to shoot Daylight Follows on film rather than digitally? 


Yes we always intended to shoot the dramatic scenes on film. We wanted that beautiful vintage timeless look that you can only get from film because the dramatic elements of the story were set in the past. The interviews were shot digitally to ensure there was a juxtaposition between present day interviews and the past.


What was the biggest challenge you faced making Daylight Follows and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film? 


Biggest challenge was funding. The problem we found was that there are lots of films about WW2 and so getting funding was a challenge. We knew our film had a uniqueness in the way the story is told and the arthouse musical theme but it is hard to explain this to funders even with a strong script, treatment and powerful story.


How much did your previous experiences prepare you for making Daylight Follows? 


I think my experiences in television honed my storytelling skills and general filmmaking craft. In my early career I had it drilled into me to shoot to edit so this was advantageous when shooting on film because we only had enough film for a very limited number of takes per shot. In some instances we only had enough film for one take. I liked that challenge though because it kept me on my toes.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from? 


I always loved the magic of being captivated by a film in the cinema. It’s wonderful escapism that I’ve always enjoyed throughout my life. I also have a passion for music and I think the combination of capturing images and using music to tell stories is where my passion for filmmaking comes from.


Was there any one film that you saw growing up that sparked the filmmaker inside you? 


A Clockwork Orange. A masterpiece.


Has your directing style and approach changed a lot since your debut film? 


I think my directing style has evolved over the years because I fully trust myself now and don’t second guess myself. I used to over think things in my head but I’m more relaxed now. 


What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken from making Daylight Follows and exploring Irving Roth and Rick Carrier’s legacy? 


To appreciate how fortunate I am to live in peace and not have to experience the unfathomable hardships both men suffered and overcame. I still to this day cannot truly comprehend what they witnessed. I remember after the interviews and in particular Irving I would feel disturbed and distressed. 


Is there any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker? 


Stay true to your vision. If you know you have a phenomenal story then tell it in your own way. 


And finally, what is the message you would like your audiences to take from Daylight Follows? 

I think I’d like the audience to consider the power of beautiful connections and relationships even when the scene is set in hellish circumstances. I hope it can be a reminder to us all that a stranger from a foreign land can become your brother and soulmate.


The world we live in today is fragile and at war on multiple continents. I think a stark reminder of the holocaust of WW2 is a more important message than ever as people are murdered in cold blood the world over due to warped ideologies. We are all humans now just like we were in the 1930’s and it appears we aren’t learning the lessons of the horrors of that period that devastated a vast swathe of the people of the world. I think it is important to remember the history and to try and educate future generations about how far to the depths of depravity people can go, while also reminding people who struggle to cope with the wars playing out in the world today that there is hope and all is not lost. As humans we will always find a way if we find a genuine connection. 

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