Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021
Night and Day
London. April 2020. A month into lockdown and two sisters are impelled to put all they hold dear at risk. One, a doctor, decides to speak out about the working conditions at her hospital. The other, a fledgling actress, dares to leave the house for the first time in weeks.
Hi Tim, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?
It’s been challenging for me as for everyone - keeping body and soul together - but not all of it has been bad. It’s afforded me time to think, take stock, reset some of my personal and artistic priorities. I have massively improved my cooking and gardening skills too!
Has this time been offering you any new creative opportunities?
I started writing short stories on a daily basis - as a means of keeping my creative muscles alive. And staying sane! These stories became a kind of fictional diary of my response to the pandemic on an emotional psychological and political level. And one of them eventually became the basis of my short film Night And Day.
Congratulations on having Night and Day part of this year's Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?
Cannes is such an exciting festival for any aspiringly innovative filmmaker so it feels like a huge honour and privilege to be included in its programme in this way.
Any nerves ahead of the festival?
If I were actually there, probably - but as it’s virtual this year, less so. One can watch it more calmly from afar!
How did Night and Day come about, what inspired your screenplay?
I was telling an editor friend about the stories I was writing, over lunch outside on a sunny day in North London last summer - and she said these sound very like films, short films, or the starting point for bigger films, so that got me thinking maybe I should make one, to capture my personal response to the pandemic in a visual and visceral way. I was also inspired by the true stories I heard of Doctors under enormous pressure, and other stories from friends who work in the arts and were unable to practise their craft and earn a living, and - in some cases - psychologically unable to leave the house for weeks on end... it was fertile ground for me to explore...
"I think you feel impelled to take more risks, to be more inventive and extreme - which is a good thing!"
When were the biggest challenges you faced making Night and Day?
Raising the money, then making it with a skeleton crew where the producers and I were responsible for absolutely everything - there was no safety net and no one else to fall back on - then shooting it at the height of the UK’s winter lockdown...
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes, I saw loads of films as a kid - Bergman, Hitchcock, Fellini, Coppola, Scorsese, and imagined what it would be like to be a film director. In my teenage years through my passion shifted towards theatre and that’s where I started my professional directing career, I eventually realised that film-making gave me more freedom to use a wider palette of sound, music, visuals - as well as the raw power of writing and acting. It’s like a synthesis of so many art forms.
You have an extensive background directing TV, how much has this influenced your approach to directing films?
It’s similar - the basics are the same - you just get a bit more time and a bit more freedom and encouragement to experiment when making a film. I think you feel impelled to take more risks, to be more inventive and extreme - which is a good thing!
Do you have any advice or tips to offer a fellow director?
Make your own short film. It’s very tough and exposing - but hugely liberating.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your Night and Day?
It’s my personal take on some of the mental health issues of the pandemic. I hope it will encourage people to have empathy for the different ways people have been struggling to cope - medics and the public equally. None of us is superman.