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BFI Future Film Festival 2023

Model Of Life

An insecure life model is desperate to be someone’s muse, but when a budding artist chooses her as his creative subject, she is not pleased.


Hi Sascha, it’s great to get to talk with you, how has everything been going?


It’s been great thanks! I’m super excited to be involved with the BFI Future Film Festival this year.


In 2022 you became a Chortle Student Comedy Awards finalist, got nominated for the BBC Comedy Awards and was named as 'One-to-Watch' by Funny Women, what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition for your stand up?


I’ve been performing stand-up comedy properly since I was 19. So, doing well in competitions recently has been really exciting for me and a great next step in my career. Yet, I think that the most exciting achievements I’ve made in the comedy world haven’t been the competitions. Getting to perform alongside some of my favourite comedians, in venues where I’ve been watching comedy for years before I started performing, and feeling confident in my comedic voice, have been the most meaningful things. Recognition is just the cherry on top.


Congratulations on having Model of Life, your debut short film, part of the Future Film Festival 2023, how does it feel to be part of such an incredible line-up of short films?


It is such an honour! I never expected my silly short film to be shown at such a prestigious venue, alongside professional filmmakers and some serious works of cinematic art. Plus, I am so excited to watch the other short films, and doubtless be inspired for my next project.


How important are festivals like Future Film Festival in creating a platform for short films?


I think that the film industry can seem inaccessible for a lot of young filmmakers. Especially, if you don’t have a lot of resources or connections. So, having a film festival specifically for young people, that is really inexpensive to enter, and that is willing to take a chance on smaller productions and filmmakers, is so special. It has given me an opportunity to network, learn and have my work platformed that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And I am so grateful to the BFI for providing me with this opportunity.

"The actors and production team were all friends and volunteers who either love film or love life modelling."

Can you tell me how Model of Life came about, what inspired your film?


Last year, I started going to £2 life-drawing classes at my uni. Before then, I had never experienced nudity like that, in such a desexualised and comfortable way. Then, one session, that just so happened to be on pancake day, the life model brought in a frying pan and posed with it. I just thought, ‘this is actually kind of funny’. I kept finding similar stories like this, like how one of the models owned a company that did life drawing classes for hen dos, or how one had fallen asleep whilst posing. Life modelling seemed to be an intersection between the inaccessible art world, being comfortable in nudity and ultimately, silliness. So, I tried to capture this in my film.

As this is your debut short film how much flexibility your your script and actors did did you allow yourself?


I think the whole production process was quite flexible. I had a shortlist, storyboard and set script. But, beyond that, there was a lot of flexibility with shooting. Lines were changed, shots were added. With a first film project, I think there is a lot of trial and error. For example, I had these big panning shots planned, but I didn’t end up having the equipment to carry them out. So, we had to improvise. What I learnt is to keep it as simple as possible and be adaptable.


How did you make a film for £30 and was it always your intention to make a film with fellow firs time filmmakers?


Overall, it was quite a DIY project. The film equipment was all lent to us by my university’s media department (Media Durham), for free. The actors and production team were all friends and volunteers who either love film or love life modelling. One of the sets was actually my bedroom. It was never really my ‘intention’ to make a film solely with first time filmmakers. I was just lucky that I was surrounded by a group of really creative and driven people who were willing to help me.


Being based in the North-East are there any local stories (or legends) you are interested in turning into a short film?


The North-East is historically underrepresented in a lot of media. So, I think there are definitely a lot of stories based in the North-East that are yet to be told, especially those of artists and those involved in the art industry (such as life-models). I’m currently really interested in a group of amateur Gamelan players, who meet once a week in Durham, in an abandoned science building, to play this beautiful collection of Indonesian instruments. I think it has a lot of potential for humour and playfulness.


Looking back, what would you say have been the most valuable lessons you’ve taken from this experience?


This may seem a bit boring, but I have learnt a lot about organisation. What started as a DIY project with friends, ending up being quite a calculated and highly organised production. I have learnt how to work within the boundaries of the equipment I have, and how to work around a small budget. I have also learnt how to best direct people. Especially when you’ve written a piece and you have a distinct vision of what you want.


Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?


Of course filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell! There are so many interesting, unique things happening in the world that have been unaddressed. Like, I thought that it was crazy that no one had thought to talk to people about the life modelling industry before. There are plenty of people like that, whose stories haven’t been heard yet.

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Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?


I’ve always had a passion for comedy, rather than filmmaking, I’d say. I started watching live comedy when I was 13. I loved it so much that I performed my first ever stand-up comedy gig when I was 16. So, I think that the performing fed into the writing side of filmmaking and then the directing side. I have always been interested in how to make people laugh. So, I think that filmmaking is just the next medium for me to try to do that.


What top 3 tips would you offer a fellow first-time filmmakers?


I’m not sure I’m in much of a position to offer anyone advice. But if I have to…My first tip would be to surround yourself with creative people. I wouldn’t have been able to do my project if I hadn’t surrounded myself with other young people who had similar film goals to me. My second tip would be to have fun with it. Projects where the cast and crew are having fun (or at least, comedy projects), will always be better. The silliness will come across a bit more in my experience. Finally, don’t let a lack of budget stop you. There are so many ways to get into film. Tiktok can be one of them. Stand-up comedy can be another one. There will always be someone willing to accept your work if you have put enough effort and thought into it.


And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Model of Life?


Well, mostly, I’d like them to laugh. I don’t think I would be able to cope with a whole cinema in silence for 5 minutes and 6 seconds. But, on top of that, I hope that they can also see the absurdity of the power that we place on nudity. And find the humour in something as stupidly serious as the world of art.

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