Raindance Film Festival 2020
An encounter between a woman and a rugged stranger in a jazz filled city at night, turns out to have unexpected consequences...
Hi Sophia thank you for talking to The New Current, how are you holding up during these very strange times?
Luckily I’m in a fortunate position in comparison to many people, in that I have a lovely place with my partner by the sea and a gorgeous puppy. So life isn’t that bad, and I’m grateful for that. I find the whole thing though quite unnerving and I miss social contact, my fiancé and I have had to change our wedding plans too. So lots of upheavals. However, I think it's been nice the planet has had a rest from fumes, and there’s been time to contemplate and realise what’s important in life. I’ve found I’ve had lovely interactions with locals, and here people are helping out each other more than before, so there is some community spirit that has developed from this. But I miss normal socialising for sure - I’m a tactile person!
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?
It has given me time to come up with feature film ideas, and keep the film conversation going via zoom chats with industry folk. I also just shot and completed a short in 12 hours, as restrictions meant we just had to just smash it out the bag - and we did! I find limits actually stretch you creatively. It’s called ‘Grace Must Speak’ and it’s on my Vimeo from October 8th.
I also started pressing flowers and putting them in glass floating frames, I discovered that this practice originated from Japan and they call it ‘Oshibana'. It is said that Samurai Warriors would press flowers to cultivate patience, harmony with nature and concentration. I find it very calming creating these frames, and it’s been lovely having people buying them and loving them, Instagram.
In 2018 you won Best Director at Oslo Independent Film Festival, what did this type of recognition for your work mean to you as a director?
It’s really cool. I mean, awards can be a bit silly in some ways of course. But basically, it’s lovely to have the affirmation and recognition for your hard work. It gives industry folk a nod too, that you’re worth your salt.
Congratulations on having Mine selected for this year's Raindance Film Festival, how does it feel to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
Very cool. I’ve always wanted a film in Raindance, so this really is a dream come true.
This will be your European Premiere, does this add any additional pressure on you?
I thrive on pressure.
Can you tell me a little bit about Mine, how did this film come about?
The wonderful Samuel Grant came to me with an idea for a short, he was the 2nd AC on a TV series I was in when I was an actor, ‘World’s End’, and we kept in touch ever since. He had moved to Texas and was working for Panavision. He was coming back to the UK for a few weeks, and basically said - would you direct this? I gleefully accepted, helped develop the story and bish-bash-bosh we whacked it out in a one night shoot in Peckham. Teaming up with the fantastic producers Nina Yndis and Glen Kirby who made it a reality.
What was it about Samuel Grant's screenplay that interested you as a filmmaker?
It was playful, I love that. I knew I could do something with it where it lured you into thinking one thing, then turned that on its head with a wry wink. That’s my kinda thing. Also, Sam was going to DOP and we have basically the same brain, so it was so much fun collaborating visually throughout the process, I knew it was going to be very satisfying creatively.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
Hmmmmm if I let that out of the bag then you’ll be looking for it! Basically, no, I’m very happy with it. But I’d be lying if there wasn’t one thing If we’d had the budget and time I would have included.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
From doing it, the first film I directed ‘The Wider Sun’ was a bit of a wild card try-out and I fell in love with every aspect of the process. Prior to that, apparently, when I was a child I would watch movies on repeat and exclaim ‘how did they do that?!’ So apparently, I wanted to understand the workings of the magic medium since I was a bub.
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Yeah definitely, I’m a big fan of Kahlil Joseph for example - the way he makes music videos is like nobody else.
But I also must say that I'm not a fan of style over substance when it comes to features etc. You need a good story really, that’s the main thing.
"Even when life takes something precious away from you, it always gives you something back."
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Network, make friends and keep making stuff, the proof is in the pudding. In time you’ll get to make more if your stuff is good and you’ll make great friends and colleagues along the way. Also, read Sidney Lumet’s book ‘Making Movies’.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Mine?
A wry smile.