1) How did you get into directing?
I started along this path because I loved drawing. Drawing, painting and making are big parts of my practice and how I get the ideas out of my head onto something accessible. As I started to push my drawings I found I wanted them to move, and once they are moving you get the urge to tell a story. Since then it has always been about getting your voice into the films and animations you make. Creating something unique to you is a very difficult process but is my passion. I recently completed a Masters degree at the Royal College of Art where I made My Dad. While there I really pushed my self to tell stories I feel passionately about and were relevant to us today.
2) What is your most recent project?
My most recent project is the short film My Dad, which was nominated for the BAFTA this year. It is a hand drawn film about inherited racism and how a racist yet also caring father affects a child’s life. I use vibrant and garish oil pastels to create an overwhelming world where opinions tear through the drawings, removing characters and buildings, revealing a mess of regurgitated newspaper clippings beneath.
3) What is the best part of being a director?
I enjoy the problem solving side of being a director. Working within limitations to get your story and ideas across. Every story has to be handled in a different way, you can’t just use the same techniques over and over again, and I love finding these new ways of telling the story.
It’s also exciting when you are working with new people who bring their own set of skills that you perhaps don’t have. When a production comes together, with all those skills involved, you can feel really proud of what has been achieved.
4) What is the worst part of being a director?
When you think you are close to finishing a project, you can see the finish line, yet it remains at that distance as little problems start to surface. You’re tired and you want it to be over, but you have to put in that one last push to get it over the line.
You do get a great sense of achievement afterwards however, knowing that something is completely finished, which wouldn’t exist if everything were easy.
5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I want to develop commercially as I enjoy the challenge creating short content and I want to get my hand drawn and cut out animation into the commercial world as I think it would be great to see and different to what is out there now. But I am primarily a storyteller and I want to keep making short films that explore modern British culture. My ultimate goal is to make a feature length film whether it is animation or live action.
6) 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?
Don’t have a mentor.
7) Who is your favorite director and why?
It’s hard for me to decide on this as I have never had a particular favorite animation director but I look up to Bill Plympton as he has become a huge force in independent feature length animation and I hope to emulate his success in the future. In terms of live action it has to be Paul Thomas Anderson. The way he constructs a story pulls you in gradually and his characters are fascinating to watch. Going to the cinema to watch his films is always an exciting experience.
8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
My favorite movie is Alien. Purely on the atmosphere that Ridley Scott creates. The aesthetics and sound design comes together for the opening of that film in a way that instills fear and dread. I am very interested in sound design and using silence, and this film is a great example to see how it can be effective.
In regards to commercial content, I really loved the Honda “Hands” commercials. It is the reason I love animation, because you can make the unbelievable believable. And that series of commercials did it so well and told the story of Honda brilliantly.
9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Pontefract, West Yorkshire and moved to London to do my masters in animation at the Royal College of Art. I made two short films while studying there, the first, Over Dinner, an oil paint on glass film about the effects of war on a British family; the second was My Dad, which got a BAFTA nomination. I am now represented by Film Club, where I am hoping the commercial side to my work will be able to develop and support me in making more films. I am very interested in the British family, and how it has changed and continues to do so. Reflecting on my own experiences or researching into new topics is how I create my stories.