Lonely Wolf International
Film Festival 2022
May 7, 2022
Using faces around them as inspiration, Daisy and Kyle wax lyrical as last orders approach. Is there any truth in their words or are they liquored up Keyser Sözes avoiding difficult realities presented to them by their drinking partners?
Hello Duncan, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?
Hello there! Lovely to talk with you too!
I’m getting there. Certainly been a strange couple of years but I’m adapting to this new life. Keeping well!
How have you managed to stay positive and busy?
I have a 20 month old son. I sit next to him when I need to stay positive and he certainly keeps me busy! I’m now heavily pushing to get Pint? made into a feature-length, looking for funding opportunities and representation.
Congratulations on your nominations at this years Lonely Wolf for Best British Film for Pint?, what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your film?
Thank you! It’s certainly a huge justification. I’ve put a lot of time into this project and after such a long time, one loses the ability to self-critique, well, constructively anyway! It really is wonderful to have my work recognised as being worthy to play in such a fantastic festival alongside some extremely high-calibre films. I’ve enjoyed watching the other nominees and winners.
How important are festivals like Lonely Wolf in championing and supporting indie filmmakers?
They’re crucial and becoming more and more so. With the major studios ensuring that only their movies play at the majority of cinemas and longer running festivals, and online platforms being so over saturated, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find quality stories with new and varied perspectives. Lonely Wolf and other similar festivals are giving these voices a platform but presenting us, as an audience, with the best (while remaining varied in content) selection.
Can you tell me how Pint? came about, what inspired your screenplay?
Roger Parkins (who plays Sullivan in the film) and I were sat in a pub geeking out about movies, as we so often did, way back in 2014. We’d had enough of waiting for someone else to place us both in front and behind the camera and so conceived an idea for a script. Lads who loved movies, sat in a pub, imbuing otherwise boring stories of their lives with elements from 90’s action films. I built upon the idea much further and wrote the feature-length script. The short is essentially an altered excerpt from the feature-length screenplay to help it work as a more self-contained story and left open to expand further.
What is the message you wanted to convey with Pint? and do you think you have achieved this?
Like myself, the characters in Pint? struggle to articulate their own worries, fears and inner feelings. The pub is a place of therapy, a place where all you have is the person sat opposite you and no other distractions. One doesn’t necessarily need to talk about their feelings but just talking, or maybe projecting their worries onto a fictional character is incredibly therapeutic. I hope this comes across, I think we all feel we’ve achieved creating a world with vulnerable characters that inhabit what they believe to be a safe place but can’t always express themselves explicitly.
How much flexibility do you allow yourselves and your cast with your screenplay once you start shooting, did you like to keep to what was written?
I like to try and keep as much of the writing as possible but if it isn’t sitting right with an actor, I’d much rather play with it and we both find an alternative that still conveys the same intentions and pushes the action where it needs to go. You risk losing the natural truth of an actor's portrayal if you force them to be rigid with words that they can’t make their character fluidly and realistically deliver. Saying that, Katy Rooke (plays Daisy in the short) might disagree. I was a little strict on some of her dialogue being word perfect but the character needed to show she would retreat to convoluted sentence structures when she felt nervous or intimidated. So I guess, pretty flexible…sometimes!
What was the most challenging part of making Pint?
Producing it with a budget that I funded out of my own pocket! I find producing very challenging, especially when you’re wearing so many other hats for the project. Our pub location nearly pulled out the day before we were to begin shooting. I had to plead with the landlord to let us shoot the next day. We came to an agreement that I could shoot in the morning for two hours (barely got set up in that time) then pack away and come back later in the evening to shoot for another four hours. It was an incredibly stressful production. In the end, we shot the entire film in under two days. Luckily, I have a TVC background where you're often restricted to a one day shoot and must work fast, efficiently and creatively. Another problem came just when I finally released the film on FilmFreeway. Sully and Kyle would originally walk into the pub arguing over films. The argument was about Bruce Willis and how it may be time that he retired from action films. Of course, I wrote this line in 2014/2015. The day I uploaded the file to FilmFreeway, Bruce Willis hits the news. The headlines speak of Willis’ aphasia diagnosis and that it has forced him to retire from acting. I couldn’t afford to re-shoot and so decided out of respect for an actor I adored whilst growing up, to cut the line and start the scene later using an Edgar Wright style frame wipe from the previous scene. I miss the context it gave to these two characters, their passion for movies but felt it to be the correct and sensitive decision.
What was the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making this short?
Don’t pull favours on important elements of your film. Find the money from somewhere and get the job done. I waited for over a year for the VFX to be worked on because my compositor was super busy with paid work. In the end, I worked on the majority of VFX myself. Not something I wanted to do.
How different was your approach to making Pint? compared to you previous projects?
I wasn’t so storyboard/shotlist focused. Whilst I still had a shotlist, I sat inside the scenes with the actors and built a performance and flow there. I wanted to allow the film to be made three times (pre-production,production and post). I wanted the film to build itself naturally whilst contained within the grand structure of the script rather than be bound by it.
Have you aways had a passion for filmmaking?
Absolutely. Being slightly introverted, it’s the way I communicate most effectively. I enjoy telling stories and most of all, I love to inspire emotions in someone through my work that maybe I struggle to express verbally. I am at my most confident on set and adore having a million questions fired my way that require creative problem solving.
It all began the first time I escaped into the world of Jurassic park in 1993, I don't think I ever left Isla Nublar!
Does your work as a DP and video editor help to inform the way you direct?
My work as a DP does nothing but help me empathise with a real DP who wants more set up time. I love working with DPs and talking through lens and light choices that will help service the story but I can’t say it’s something I overly enjoy doing myself as my photography skills are quite average. I believe being a good editor is imperative to being a good director. If you can’t see the edit in your mind while you’re on set, you’re in serious trouble. It helps inform pace, how much of an image can be read in a certain amount of frames, how the scene will flow into the next and will the story still read when you’ve had to scrap your favourite shots due to time constraints on the day. I have a real passion for editing, it really is where the film is made! The audience has been exposed to such an abundance of TV commercials, some with complex narratives delivered within 30 seconds. The modern audience are capable of digesting such fast information and as an editor, I need to deliver that to them effectively. Transferring that knowledge on set, as a director, I can make informed and creative decisions on how to deliver the most story information to my audience without over-stimulating them.
"Good equipment is so much more accessible than it was when I was young but that also means saturation. Find out how you personally tell stories and practice it."
What themes are you looking forward to exploring with future films?
Mental health and how isolation can affect that. Your own mind can be your worst enemy and it’s important to surround yourself with people to keep an outside perspective on your immediate reality. I’ve always been fascinated by the Frakenstein story, to me it’s far more a story on the dangers of a fractured and lonely mind than a monster movie.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer anyone looking to get into filmmaking?
Explore your style and how you want to tell stories. It’s such a cliche now but make as much as you can, keep making films. Good equipment is so much more accessible than it was when I was young but that also means saturation. Find out how you personally tell stories and practice it. Be the only one who could possibly tell that story and hopefully, the right people will request your ability. The best place to invest money is festivals. There’s no use making a masterpiece for no-one to see it!
And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Pint?
It’s a bit of fun and you’re allowed to have a bit of fun, so enjoy it…and look out for the feature-length!