Our regular short film programme Filmed Up returns of it’s June 2022 edition on Wed 22 Jun. Showcasing the fantastic work from North West based filmmakers, we spoke to some of the teams behind this edition’s line-up, to find out what inspired the idea for the films and the teams that made them.
When the director, Jamie Luke Milligan, first shared the script with me, my brain immediately started casting the project in my head. We don’t see enough women in lead roles, particularly if they are over 50. In spite of my age and gender difference, I related to the character’s need to speak out in a difficult relationship. We’ve all been through break-ups or moments when you lose a friend and they can happen at any time in your life. We all have so much in common that we don’t realise but all of our lives are tainted by irony which the Mausoleum script captured beautifully.
When we cast Julia Deakin, we were over the moon. She’s such a perfect blend of sardonic and melancholy that we knew she would love the role. Jamie and the cinematographer Chris Fergusson always knew they wanted to shoot the film in a single take so that really limited our days shooting. We did one day of rehearsal and one day of filming in a tiny studio above a Sainsbury’s which is no longer there. We shot it on 35mm and really got all of our friends and their friends to help us out. No one was paid but we all made it an incredible shoot. We’d set the plates, Julia would come out, the camera would start moving, we’re all silent, patient, the tension rising. From the clapper to the cut, we felt like we were making a pure slice of cinema. We cocked plenty up still but we had a blast making it and hopefully you won’t notice.
By Mikel Iriarte
I made ‘Divination Dave’ to challenge myself and keep creative over lockdown! Working alone from my back bedroom, I wanted to tell a story that was just one set and one puppet. The inspiration actually came from a failed google search when I wondered what would happen if someone ate a salt lamp. Since Google couldn’t answer my question I thought I best do so myself!
I initially pitched the short to New Creatives back in June 2020 – a talent development scheme that looks to create shorts of up to 5 minutes to feature on iPlayer. For a long time I heard nothing back and thought I’d been unsuccessful. There was a 7-month process where I just worked away – making Dave, the set, his furniture, clothes and everything else in the room! Then in January 2021, New Creatives got back in touch to say they’d love to commission it and luckily I had everything ready to go! The deadline was May so I only had to work hard and fast to get my storyboards finished, any remaining props and start the tedious process of shooting. On a good day animating, I could get about 3 seconds done. Needless to say, it was tough 4 months to shoot and edit but thankfully I got it all submitted in time and Dave was released on iPlayer in December that year!
By Georgia Madden
Man or Tree
It was based on a friend’s salvia trip, where he became convinced he was a tree. He felt he experienced thousands and thousands of years, witnessing seasons come and go, and civilisations rise and fall. He started to panic thinking he would be a tree forever, only to realise he was tripping in the comfort of his own home in front of his friends. The trip actually only lasted 3-4 minutes.
The film was made quite loosely and the script was never really locked until the edit was. We had vague scenarios in our head and just went out to Bickerton, Cheshire and shot as much as we could on 16mm film with DOP Jamie Harding. We only had a tripod, a zoom and a super wide lens. Then in post, we patiently moulded film remotely over the course of several lockdowns with editor Darrin Brading. We recorded the voiceovers with actors Daniel Campbell and Michael Shon, and had Sound Design from Seb Bruen, VFX from Morgan Beringer and the grade from Daniel Garden.
It’s no doubt a marmite film. We love seeing people respond positively to it but have to admit, we get a weird kick from seeing the mystified, angry responses. Love it or hate it, we love to hear it!
By Varun Ramen
The idea of Girls Night was brought about through hearing many friends’ experiences of walking home alone at night as well as our own. Women’s safety at night is an important issue and we feel more awareness needs to be raised around it. Whilst there are not currently many solutions to the problem of females feeling unsafe at night it is important to continue raising awareness of it to make sure that people are still thinking about how to address this issue. We chose to make a film on this topic as it is a different way of showing this issue. It is meant to immerse the audience inside the main character’s head and feel the anxiety and worry that she feels. There is always the constant worry and fear that something will happen when walking home alone at night.
From the script to the final edit the film took about two months to complete, but the filming itself was done across four evenings and involved travelling out to Morecambe bus depot and roaming the streets of Lancaster. We may have got very cold, wet and lost at points but it was worth it!
As well as the film being about a feminist issue, all the main crew are females: the director, producer, director of photography, production designer, production sound mixer, and editors. We are all second-year university students studying in a variety of departments. Our cast and other crew members also consisted of mainly second-year students and we all pulled together to create Girls Night. We hope we’ve helped to raise awareness of a social issue which affects so many women across the country and the world.
By Lorna Brierly
I’m always writing ideas for short films – most of which end up being too complicated to tackle in my limited free time. One evening my daughter asked: “Do you think there’s ever been a shipwreck where live seafood from the kitchens escaped and survived?” I loved the idea and thought it could be kept contained enough to be achievable.
Having written a single page synopsis I began work on an animatic cut together with some library music. The music was actually really helpful in designing the characters and the look of the film. I had intended to replace it with an original score but I grew to like it so much I kept it in the finished film. Once I had the animatic, I worked on building the assets, animating, rendering, compositing and doing sound design until the film was complete. By rationing sleep I was able to dedicate an hour each morning and a couple of hours most evenings to it. The whole production took roughly 9 months. All the vocals for the film were done by Brian King through Fiverr. He was great to work with and made the process very smooth.
By Duncan Rudd
One Rep at a Time
I’m really passionate about using performance as a means through which to inspire social and political change and voice important issues.
Alongside the acting, I’m also an athlete. I started running during the 2020 lockdown, and since then it has become a big part of my life. I started running because it brought me happiness and freedom, but at the other end of the spectrum, elite athletics can cultivate a pressurised, competitive environment which induces anxiety.
I have experienced the world of athletics both from the sidelines and first hand, and I have discovered the extent to which the psychological side of athletics is hidden from the outside world. I wanted to create this film to raise awareness and work towards breaking the stigma around mental health in sport.
I made the film as part of my dissertation for drama school. Once I had the idea for the storyline, it didn’t take very long to write. The script is a reflection of reality, it is based on what I have witnessed/experienced both as an athlete myself, and as the sister and friend of athletes.
I wrote, directed and performed in the piece, working alongside Grant Archer (Take Back Theatre Collective) who helped with the filming and the editing. The filming only took a couple of days in total and it was a great experience to see my ideas come to life. Overall the production team was very small, but we did enlist the help of a number of athletes who took part in the filming.
By Che Eviénè
‘A deeper look at mental health in athletics’, an article about One Rep at a Time by Athletics Weekly
Looking for Barbara
I love the work of experimental filmmakers and my main source of inspiration for Looking for Barbara was to be found in the films of queer lesbian filmmaker Barbara Hammer who sadly passed away in 2019. I wanted to create a film which was multi-layered and examined queer readings of the personal archive in relation to family, identity, collective memory, place, self-curation and meaning. I love Super 8 film and wanted to create a textured reading of my own archived films which I shot in the mid-1990s. My Super 8 archive is a nod to family footage but with a queer aesthetic.
I created Looking for Barbara in the middle of the pandemic when social restrictions made it difficult for us all to meet up. This was challenging when trying to make a film, so, interviews were conducted over Zoom and filming was done with a limited crew, working within social distancing rules. The shot of the beach is Moreton on the Wirral and is a special place for me which represented a feeling of freedom and vastness. It’s also a tribute to a friend who passed away quite suddenly. Looking for Barbara for me is a film about healing and reconciliation of my queer sexuality and my younger self with me now as an older woman. The film is fundamentally about love.
I had amazing people supporting me throughout the process of making Looking for Barbara and I’m always keen to work in collaboration. I am forever grateful for all the people who helped me make this film. Looking for Barbara was produced with an all-female cast and crew.
by Helen Kilbride
We wanted to tell a genre filled LGBTQ story that addressed the difficulties and prejudices families can feel towards same sex marriage but by adding a horror twist to the tale.
We spent 3 months building the sets and planning the film from casting to crewing etc, as a team we produced the film in house and raised finances ourselves. We workshopped the story with Cynthia the lead actress closely during rehearsals developing the character of Carla. The musical number was written and produced by Grammy Award Winner Eliot Kennedy who has been massively supportive of the project.
The team behind White Wedding are currently developing the project into a longform version.
by filmmakers Lloyd and Nell
What drew me to the idea at first was simply the fact that I had noticed that there was a lack of educational discussion around black soldiers in World War One, when, of course, they played a crucial role. After watching many, many WWI and WWII films last year I realised that, to this day, there hadn’t actually been a film in mainstream cinema addressing the black Caribbean and African soldiers who fought for our country and for their lives in France, which I found pretty frustrating.
This film was made with a team of four people, me as writer, director and composer, my dad and sister playing the two parts and lots of help behind the scenes from my mum. It was pretty difficult cramming in the filming on the weekends since I am doing my A-levels nevertheless, the film was shot successfully over a period of about two months.
By Antonio Hall-Rodriguez