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Chloe Hayward | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Chloe Hayward

“Staying” (short film)

Chloe Hayward

Knucklehead Films

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it? 
I grabbed a camera and shot my pregnant best friend and her son; it got picked up by lingerie brand Cuup as one of their first campaign films.

How did you get into directing?
I had a career in modeling and trained as an actress in London and New York, but I think I ultimately wanted to be the creator rather than the canvas. I became interested in challenging conventional roles of women in cinema which led me to pursue writing and directing.

What is your most recent project?
Staying is my most recent project, a passion project stemming from the staggering statistics of domestic abuse over lockdown.

What is the best part of being a director?
The places you go and the people you meet. It’s the most beautiful part of directing, finding all of these unique and real stories and committing them to film. I’ve always loved theatre but it’s fleeting. Films can be seen anywhere in the world, they reach so far and live on forever.

What is the worst part of being a director?
There’s a lot of things that are out of your control, you have to be detached in some way but also fight hand over fist to make your vision come to life. Often, you’ve already made the film in your head so you have to enjoy the process of actually shooting and making it as much as all the other pre and postproduction.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?​
They all inform one another. I’m interested in narrative, documentary and commercial work. I hope to make a short that I’m currently developing and in the future, I hope to make a feature film.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I don’t have a mentor per se, but my husband who is a director and cinematographer is one of the people whose advice I respect and turn to the most. I’ve watched how hard he works to bring passion projects to life so it really showed me firsthand what it takes to get an idea that exists only in your head onto a screen. It takes an enormous amount of hard work. Plus, I know he’ll always give me honest feedback which is really important.

Who is your favorite director and why?
I can’t choose!

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
I’m ashamed to say it took a global pandemic for me to watch Apocalypse Now and it totally blew my mind. Naturally, I binged Hearts of Darkness, the documentary about the making of the film which is incredible. Francis Ford Coppola’s determination to make that film happen is completely awe inspiring.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up just outside of London and started modeling aged 15 which was pretty interesting. A lot of time on public transport carting myself around hoping to score a job. I’ve been on a lot of sets and had good and bad experiences, I think that’s what spurred me on to start shooting stuff myself. I never had someone direct me that felt like they really saw me or understood me, it was always layering on stuff that was their vision. I like to let people bring their truth, I think that’s what we long to see, vulnerability and truth.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
Oof, the pandemic really gave me time to think about what I actually care about, not what everyone else is doing, not what’s cool, not what’s trending. We live in a time of so much content, images and videos constantly coming at us, and that makes artists feel like they need to be seen all the time. I totally killed that, I think it’s important to just quietly get on with your work, take your time and be patient with it. You’re not a content creator, you’re a filmmaker and films take time.


Knucklehead: Contact EP, Lauren Small, via email