Full transcript from a recent interview for ‘The Lincolnite’, which had to be shortened for obvious reasons:
1) Where did you first get the idea for the concept of ‘NARCISSIST’ itself?
There are communities of ‘Pick-up Artists’ who strive for self-improvement and inevitably go from self-confessed losers to ultra-confident womanizers. There are numerous books, websites, seminars, videos on the subject, but what interested me was the fact that in changing the way you look, speak, and act, you slowly become the same as everyone else and lose a sense of who you are and were. There are routine lines, certain beats you have to hit in a conversation to, inevitably, ‘get what you want’, and I found the idea of people willingly sacrificing how they truly felt, and sacrificing living spontaneously, in order to get something they want is something that applies to everyone. People pretend all the time. Our culture is very much about wanting and getting, or at least doing what we can to get what we want. For me the film is and always has been about performance and personas. We act differently in different situations, with different people, and in these communities in particularly, there is an element of social robotics about it all. Something that runs through all of my films is the idea of how you’re meant to behave and how you do behave. There’s always choices. Sometimes we make bad decisions without questioning why.
2) Why do you think crowdfunding is important? Do you try to get grants for your films, perhaps from the UK Film Council for instance?
Crowdfunding is important because you retain control of your project, so there’s no outside intervention, allowing for more original, personal, heartfelt films, as opposed to executive-oppressive studio films where ‘there must be a car chase here’, ‘there must be something sexually suggestive here’. At Quandary Productions we aim to make original feature films about the things which interest us most.
I’ve never applied for grants, mostly because they are so very few and far between now, as the current government have decided it’s a good idea to cut the vast majority of the arts budget. The Film Council hardly exist anymore. But mostly I don’t want to wait around for someone to tell me I can make a film, or be at the mercy of ‘the person with the money’. Our past three feature films have been self-financed, this one is fan-funded, and that way we have more artistic control over the project.
3) Will ‘NARCISSIST’ be shot in Lincoln, like ‘I WORK’ was? Who are the actors in the film and where are they from?
‘NARCISSIST’ will be shot in Lincoln over five weeks, starting November 2nd. The three central actors are Tom Bridger, Charles Cromwell, and myself – all live in Lincoln. We also have two extremely talented actresses (Emilia Ufir and Heather May) coming up from London, as well as a handful of talented supporting artists from all around the country. I’ve been feeling bad recently because I’ve had to turn away so many people applying for parts. There was literally over one hundred actresses applying for parts which only consist of 30 seconds screen time, just because they’d heard so much positive feedback regarding our process and previous films. It’s flattering, but in the end I do feel bad having to turn people away.
4) Are you optimistic of meeting your £5000 in time? What will the money be used for?
I’m quietly confident we will make our goal by October 20th. As it stands we’re doing really well and we’ve had incredible support online from fellow filmmakers, actors, charities, small businesses, and people who have found the project by accident, from all over the globe. A lot of people seem interested to see whether this pays off. It’s nerve-racking to think we may not make it, but I don’t see why we can’t. A lot of people have fallen in love with the project, and even those who can’t afford to contribute and receive one of the many rewards, have been spreading the word and supporting us too, which really means a lot to us.
The budget will be spent on simple things like travel expenses, costumes, props, DVD batch production and film festival application fees. There’s no bloated egos on our films. The actors get paid very little. Everyone agrees it’s about passion more than money.
5) How important is it for aspiring young filmmakers to adopt a ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude?
Some people like to make big-budget films with lots of explosions and no-brainer story lines, and that’s fine, I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with that. We personally feel the DIY approach allows for more freedom, more creativity, and is also so much more inspiring for others to see, as you show that anyone can do it, whereas a decade or two ago it was strongly suggested you have to have a large (£100,000+) budget to make even a remotely good film. This simply isn’t true, especially now. A lot of people are put off the idea of making films and told to get ‘regular jobs’. I’m sure you can tell I strongly oppose this attitude.
Particularly when you’re young and starting out, you won’t have these budgets, so you simply have to do a lot of it yourself. But it’s so much more rewarding to see people working on something for very little money, running on passion, to get something made for the simple reason they love to make films, they love the idea, and they want to show what can be done.
6) Are any of your future projects going to use crowdfunding to raise a budget?
We’re making a web series and online comedy sketch show next year, which will be self-financed, but in 2014 we’ll be working on a significantly larger production, which we’ll be crowdfunding for next year. We’ll see how well we do this time round though.