Raindance Film Festival 2021
Shorts Programme: Maverick Senses
Charlie dreams of being strong – strong enough to squash his bullying brother. He forms an unlikely friendship with Lisa, an intimidating neighbour who recognises something in him. Their bond empowers them both, bringing strength of a different kind and leaving them in control of their own destinies.
Hey Emma, it's great to talk with you, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
Great to talk to you, too. I’ve been hanging in there! Trying to stay creative and solvent and useful, you know.
Has this time offered you the chance to find some new inspiration or opportunities?
Well Run was a film born out of these times so that was quite inspiring - and a relief for all of us who were involved in it to be working on a project we loved.
Congratulations on having Run at Raindance 2021, what does it mean to you to be at the festival?
It’s fantastic to be here. In 2019 I won a competition that Raindance ran online and my film ‘Lit’ was the winner, meaning it screened that year at the festival. It feels great to be back as an Official Selection this time round and to be playing with such great other shorts in this programme.
Can you tell me a little bit about Run, what inspired your screenplay?
Run comes from two things really - what does it mean to be a man and what happens if your home isn’t safe. I’d been taking notes on both these ideas for a while but ‘Run’ allowed me to bring them together and build a story that explored the young male experience in the context of lockdown and the consequences that was having on society in that moment.
How closed do you like to keep to your script once you start shooting, do you allow much flexibility?
Erm...I think I’m quite strict about the words! I’ll always rehearse with actors and there will be time for input there. If something else feels better in their mouths or something is awkward that’s when we’ll change it. My techniques for rehearsal are quite theatre based and are focussed on everyone feeling comfortable with each other, their characters and the set up. But once we are on set I’m really looking for the words on the page. Neither character in ‘Run’ is massively verbal so what they don’t say is as important as what they do.
Scooter Crick has appeared in four of your short films, with such a long and close relationship with an actor do you find yourself writing characters with Scooter in mind?
This film was written for both Scooter and Maddy. That was my casting process - ‘I’ve written a script for you, please will you do it?!’ But yes in general I am someone who stays in touch with actors and performers and likes to work with people again. I’ve just finished a new short and it’s got most of the actors from ‘Lit’ in it, along with some new ones, so that’s a thing for me. Scooter is amazing and he keeps growing and changing so that’s inspiring in terms of writing for sure because he keeps having new things to offer.
Has your background in photography informed how you direct your short films?
I think it has in that I know quite strongly how I like things to look and the way I’ll collaborate with my DP is very much based on that. I definitely see stories in photography and the photographers I love - Sally Mann, Bruce Davidson, Cindy Sherman and so many others all hold huge stories within single frames. So I guess I see that and look for that storytelling within image as well as through dialogue.
"In terms of writing I’m constantly trying to refine and improve the way I put my scripts together..."
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
I went to Art School and started making films there. I was always doing both - photography and film but when I graduated I could get paid to do one of them so that was the clincher! It’s storytelling, really, that fuels me and that’s something I’ve always done. Always written stories, always loved a good yarn.
How much has your approach to your films, both as a writer and director, changed since your debut short?
I think I’m more focussed now, each film I make has a goal whereas my first film, ‘Optimism’ was very much ‘let’s see if we can do this’. In terms of writing I’m constantly trying to refine and improve the way I put my scripts together, to make them earn the time from the audience I guess. On the other hand, ‘Optimism’ was about the importance of creative endeavour and had a very naturalistic style with a slightly heightened central character, so maybe there’s more continuity in my themes and beliefs than I think!
Do you have any advice or tips you would offer fellow writer/directors?
I’d say if you are making a short - make it work for you. By which I mean let it teach you something new or showcase a direction you want to head, don’t tell a story in a vacuum.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Run?
A tiny bit of a broken heart - and a photographic memory of all the credits for any future opportunities.