When did your interest in filmmaking begin?
There is before I saw The Godfather and there is after I saw that film, as far as I’m concerned. It really changed my life. Before that, I was obsessed with sports. I don’t have any early film memories because I was always playing football or tennis. Actually, my earliest film memory is being dragged to the cinema to watch The Phantom Menace. I should have rang Childline.
After a degree in Screenwriting at the University of Central Lancashire I went on to study Playwriting at Everyman theatre and recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing. During these six years I made short films sporadically until I made 12 shorts in 12 months last year.
When did you first find out about Liverpool Film Night?
I first heard of Liverpool Film Night when I was living off Hope Street in 2013. I would go to FACT a lot. Watching re-releases of Taxi Driver and The Shining there kept the fire alive. I submitted my first short DOLEY to Liverpool Film Night and it wasn’t accepted. In Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech he talks about things or achievements as ‘putting a black dot on the wall.’ As in something he had to achieve. That’s what Liverpool Film Night became to me, so it’s good my work has screened there the last two years. The night is SO important because it champions new Northern talent!
How has being showcased at Liverpool Film Night furthered your career?
It gave me a belief and a legitimacy. It’s a great feeling seeing your work on the big screen and experiencing an audience react to it. When you approach potential collaborators it’s good to have a screening at Liverpool Film Night on your CV. When you’re starting to make films the hardest thing is to convince people you can do it. Achievements create trust.
What has been the most valuable things to come out of your participation in the FACT activities 2016 Film talent Development Programme, and North West Filmmakers at FACT?
I found the monthly Film talent Development Programme talks very helpful. Hearing people like Nick Moss (Writer-Director of Break), Samm Haillay (Producer of Bypass) and Brian Smith (producer of Mad Max: Fury Road) talk took my understanding to another level. At the end of the programme there was a pitching competition and I was fortunate enough to receive the £1500 development funding. It’s not a lot of money but sometimes it’s not about your resources, it’s about your resourcefulness.
It helped me to experiment and shoot my 6-episode web series, Early Days, a comedy co-written and starring stand-up comedian Jim Harkness. The small crew we had worked super hard and I know we’ve got something special on our hands.
To what extent are you working on film now, and what are your hopes for the future?
Currently I’m getting ready to send Early Days to industry contracts before it goes online, as well as to Brooklyn Web Fest, which is one of the premier festivals for Web Shows. I’m working with Red Union Films (Awaydays & The Violators) on my first feature. I truly believe we can make one of the funniest British films in years. As far as my hopes for the future I have a very clear vision. I knew I was going to make 12 shorts, a web series and a feature so that sequence is nearly complete. I know the next sequence but I’ve got to keep some things close to my chest!
Do you have any advice to aspiring filmmakers?
In short, my biggest piece of advice is cultivate an environment in which you know you will create and receive feedback on a regular basis. You really have to approach it with an entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve been reading a lot of books on Silicon Valley start-ups recently and the parallels I’ve found are fascinating. I’ve also been taking a lot of inspiration from business books around leadership. Too many filmmakers think short-term and they make a film but there isn’t any real strategy about where it sits in their prospective career.
99% of filmmakers still believe making one short film a year and sending it to festivals is the ‘right’ approach. This thinking is archaic. Too many filmmakers suffer from believing a lack of equipment or money is their biggest setback. If you’ve written a film you can’t get funding for, you don’t dwell on that negative, you reverse engineer a film you know you CAN make and you make it.
EARLY DAYS a six-part comedy web series is online in September.
To submit your film to Liverpool Film Night, please fill out the submission form, before 29 September.