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BFI Future Film Festival 2023

My Father's Son

A traditional gamekeepers expectations for his son are challenged when his son explores his sexuality.


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


Yes it’s been great thank you, rather busy on some new upcoming projects, which is exciting.


Congratulations on having My Father’s Son screening at the Future Film Festival 2023, how does it feel to be part of such an incredible line-up of short films?


Honestly, amazing, I can’t believe it. To be amongst so many talented creatives is a dream, I’m looking forward to getting to meet some of them on the days of the festival.


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


To have festivals like these is fundamental to supporting new talent and filmmakers across the globe. Being a filmmaker I’ve realised that distribution is often a bigger challenge than the filmmaking itself. Festivals like Future Film Festival helps so much in getting your film out there and building a better community for filmmakers as a whole. 


Can you tell me how My Father’s Son came about, what inspired your screenplay?


The first draft of the film was actually written in Covid. It took months of developing and reviewing from filmmakers, friends and even family to get a shooting script. I wrote it in Lincolnshire, where I’m originally from, I felt like the landscapes of the county had such beauty but had rarely been seen, so staying true to my roots we set the film there. I’ve always wanted to create a coming of age film but for it to contain more serious themes of identity and sexuality. We wanted to implement these subtly through the direction and dialogue, that way the film was far more open to interpretation of what’s to happen next. 

With My Father’s Son how much flexibility do you allow yourself with your text/vision for your film?


I wanted to keep a frame work of the start point and end point but I enjoy the idea of it being a collaborative process, so through out the planning, production and post-production I was completely open to hearing new ideas. Most particularly in production, while working with the actors we spoke about each of their motivations and changed the dialogue accordingly. There was one scene where we wanted the walk between Jack (Alastair Coughlan) and Michael (Forrest Bothwell) to last longer, so I gave them a topic of conversation to finish the scene and it was improvised from what they already knew about the characters. 

"In order to make it realistic it took countless rehearsals and rewrites of the script to ensure the authenticity was there." 

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


Always have a back up plan. Production at times can be unpredictable, to be ready for all scenarios i.e should you need more of the same prop, a back up of the footage or even the wrong weather conditions. If you can think creatively to solve these scenarios you’ll find that productions go far smoother.


Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?


I’ve been a filmmaker since I was about 7. Constantly creating, originally from stop frame animations. From making my first short film I couldn’t get enough on the idea of creating narratives and stories. It’s always been a career I’ve pursued and I feel so fortunate that I am able to create to this day.


What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced creating open ended evocative films?


The biggest challenge was making the interactions amongst each of the characters seem as authentic as possible. In order to make it realistic it took countless rehearsals and rewrites of the script to ensure the authenticity was there. 


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


Completely, without pushing the boundaries we’d always see the same type of films. I’ve seen so many instances where people I know have been concerned or worried on their ideas in film, If you have a story you want to tell, tell it.


What top 3 tips would you offer emerging filmmakers?


The first would be create. Create as much as you can, the more you make the more you’ll learn. The second would be persistence, I’ve made countless pitches to try and get films made, if you keep trying it will get to the point where one day you’ll get the green light to make the films you want. My final tip is to be open to new ideas, the first draft of a script you write is never usually the one you end up filming, so get as many people as possible to look at it, take in the advice, it could be useful to your next draft but ultimately trust your gut on the ideas you feel most strongly about. 


And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from My Father’s Son?


I’d like audiences to think more on the idea of identity. Everyone is still discovering who they are, there’s no timescale or even a definition to it.  It’s to show that expectations can be diminishing on one’s character, so never set yourself to them.

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