"...WE SHOT THE FILM IN AUGUST IN BARCELONA WHERE THE TEMPERATURE WAS 30+ DEGREES SO WE HAD TO MAKE SURE TO STAY HYDRATED."
Nomination: Best Screenplay
Screening Session: Feb 28 | Nominated Films
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
A group of ex-social media influencers share their stories at a group counselling session.
Hi Ross thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?
I'm very well thanks. The past year has been truly surreal to live through so I've been on a constant lookout for distractions, whether it's through pop culture or my own projects. During the lockdown last year I went on a bit of a retrospective journey, revisiting some of my favourite films, books, graphic novels and video games, which was a lot of fun.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
Yes and no. I've had trouble sitting down to write new work, however I was able to shoot a new short film that I had been planning for some time. We were actually due to shoot it the week after we went into lockdown which was initially very frustrating but it meant we had to find a new location which ended up being a huge benefit to the final film.
Congratulations on having Influencers Anonymous selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
Thank you! It's a pleasure to have the film as part of the festival line up. I used to live close to the Genesis Cinema in London where it usually takes place so it's unfortunate that the event can't happen there this year as I would love to have been able to attend. However I think it's a nice touch that you're donating all the ticket sales direct to the cinema. Hopefully we can attend in real life next year.
Can you tell me a little bit about your film, how did this film come about?
The film is a black comedy about a group of social media influencers who have come together to share their stories with a counsellor. I wanted to make something that poked fun at the culture of influencers that has exploded over the past few years and originally planned to make it about a single influencer speaking to a therapist. However when I told my idea to the writer, James Vincent, he immediately suggested we expand the scope and try and include various characters who all have different issues as well as being influencers in different ways. Even though it's not explained in detail in the film, each of the actors was playing a specific type of influencer, from food blogger to travel enthusiast, Vine star to fitness obsessive!
What where the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?
We decided to make the film for the annual My Rode Reel short film competition, but we only gave ourselves a couple of weeks from our initial idea to the delivery of the final film, so the whole process was very quick. We had to scramble to find the right location only a few days before the shoot. In addition, we shot the film in August in Barcelona where the temperature was 30+ degrees so we had to make sure to stay hydrated!
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
The only thing I feel could be improved would be to add in a few more wider shots with different angles, allowing the actors to play off each other if they're sat next to each other. I like how claustrophobic the film feels, adding to the tension and making each character seem alone in the frame, but it would have been nice to mix it up a bit more.
Describe your film in three words?
Perfect snack-able content.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
Wow what a big question! It's hard to pin point exactly where it came from as I have always had a love of cinema. When I was growing up in the 90s I used to get the TV guide and mark everything that I wanted to watch. This would require lots of recording on VHS tapes as there were no streaming services or DVDs. You could switch the tapes from SP (short play) which gave you about 3 hours of recording to LP (long play) which gave you six hours per tape. That meant that if you were smart about it you could record three whole films on one tape!
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?
The best piece of advice I've been given wasn't in a filmmaking context but I think that it applies to almost anything in life. The advice is just to KISS. What does it stand for? Keep It Simple Stupid. Don't overthink it. Just go with your gut and let your emotions or positive energy for something lead the way. It doesn't mean dumb down your ideas but rather to take a step back every now and then and just keep it simple, stupid!
"It's become commonplace to assume everyone is constantly churning out content all the time and feel like you need to contribute to that cycle"
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Of course! I think that it can be challenging to do this in the form of a short film, while also making it appealing to a board audience but then that's the rub. My next film attempts things I've not done before with my filmmaking but it's hard to know exactly where that kind of thing will come when you start, unless you begin the process wanting to attempt something specific for the first time.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
I think that in the fast paced, digital first world we exist in these days, it's important to have patience. This could be patience with your script to get it to the right place, patience with the production, patience with the edit and patience with your release strategy. It's become commonplace to assume everyone is constantly churning out content all the time and feel like you need to contribute to that cycle. Ultimately it's better to take your time and make a great piece of work rather than rush it in order to feel like you're keeping up with everyone else.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
I hope that people take the film with a pinch of salt as it's intended to be funny but also consider how much time you spend on social media. It's crazy to think how much it has dominated our lives over the past ten or so years and it's important to put down your phone or step away from your computer for a break every now and then to connect with the real world!