What was the inspiration behind making this short film?
After creating lots of branded and social content over the past few years, I had encountered ‘influencers’ in various capacities and found them to be a fascinating new kind of celebrity. They’re similar to television presenters in terms of their skillset but they do everything themselves rather than working within the confines of a larger organisation. Plus they have the pressure of creating and posting content at a crazy rate. Initially I wanted to make a film about an influencer visiting their psychologist and expressing doubts about their career. However, when I suggested the idea to the writer James Vincent, he suggested we open up the idea to have multiple influencers and that’s when we hit on the idea of an Alcoholics Anonymous style meeting for them all to interact in. This allowed us to have different kinds of influencers at various stages of addiction which added to the comedy and tragedy of the piece.
Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?
The film was shot on location in Barcelona in the middle of August, the hottest month of the year. This meant that the temperature was 30+ degrees for the whole day. We had to have constant water breaks in order to stay hydrated. I’m not sure how the cast all appear to look so calm and composed in the footage as everyone behind the camera was struggling! Otherwise, the whole thing went according to plan and there were no major issues on the day. It’s essentially one long scene playing out so we were able to shoot each actor in a medium shot and a close up which gave us lots and lots of options for reactions in the edit. The initial reason for shooting was to enter it into a short film competition which had a limit on the run time of your film which was three minutes. As all the actors gave such strong performances, which included ad-libbing throughout, it was very hard to cut it down to the required length. But this meant that we were able to create a much stronger five minute cut which became the final edit that we used for festivals. For once we had too much good footage instead of not enough!
How has the short film been received?
The film has been received really well. Social media is something that we are all grappling with in various ways so anyone who watches the film just gets it straight away. We were lucky to get into a number of international festivals and win some awards for the script, the acting and we even got a best comedy award into the bargain. Hopefully it serves as a (humorous) warning that you can spend too much time on your phone checking your various accounts and there is a very real danger that it represents. Put that phone down!
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I’m currently in post production on a new short film from my own script called called ‘Dog In Translation’. It’s a surreal comedy about a stubborn British man living in Spain who doesn’t understand Spanish but finds help in an unlikely place. We shot it last summer in Barcelona across two very hot days (I sense a pattern emerging here) and had to battle with permit issues, sunburn, a thunderstorm on day two and some wild hogs that appeared in our base camp just as we wrapped – true story!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?
I was once given a great piece of advice by my rugby teacher at school in Belfast when I was growing up – K.I.S.S. It’s stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t overthink things, just come up with a basic idea and make it happen. The best thing to do if it’s your first short film is to complete the process from start to finish. That way you will get an understanding of what it takes to make a film and you will also learn which parts you enjoy – and which parts you don’t enjoy! Come up with something involving a couple of characters and base it in one location. Shoot it with minimal equipment and do the edit. Then the most important part – showing it to others! Once you’ve made it you need to get some outside opinions on what worked and what didn’t. If you don’t get that feedback then you won’t learn what your mistakes are and you won’t learn from it. Just Keep It Simple Stupid!