Today’s post is a little different – we have a guest interview with writer and producer Sean Langton!
Based in Aberystwyth, Sean’s been writing for a couple of years now. Filming is about to start on his first short film, Dad, the story of a man coming to terms with the death of his father and the troubled history they shared. It’s a film about forgiveness, about memory, and about how we deal with our mixed feelings when we’re betrayed by someone who should be caring for us.
A short promo for the film can be found at https://vimeo.com/45203025.
And as if being involved as writer isn’t enough work, Sean is also producing! I managed to grab five minutes of his time to answer a few questions…
Q. Where did the initial inspiration for the script come from?
A. Back in 2011 I found out that my dad had died. I had been estranged from him for some years, and found out to late to see him one last time. This got me to thinking of how you could reconcile the things that went unsaid once one of the parties was dead.
In February I got my inspiration in the form of Chris Jones while at the Guerrilla Film Masterclass (www.chrisjonesblog.com).
Three things stuck with me. Set a date for filming and stick to it; surround yourself with likeminded people; and finally, have a plan. Ambition wasn’t frowned upon either. So armed with those principles, and the vast array of tools Chris shared with us over the weekend, I set about producing my first film.
Q. This script began life as a theatre piece – what challenges did you face adapting it for film? What changes did you make and what filmic techniques did you use to get the story across?
A. The theatre piece was a monologue, so the biggest challenge was finding away to tell the story that was compelling and interesting on screen. I couldn’t just have a man talking to a gravestone for ten minutes. In order to do this I decided to tell the story cut between the present and flashbacks of his childhood.
Q. The action is carried largely by voiceover – what were the advantages, and challenges, of that as you were writing?
A. The monologue originally was about ten minutes long. In the first draft of the film script I used the entire monologue as voiceover but it was clunky and too much. So I had to make some hard decisions about what to keep and what to cut. It was important to make every word count and to have a real impact on the audience.
Q. What challenges did you face writing for child actors?
A. Because of the challenging subject matter, I had to make sure that I handled it sensitively. It took a lot of time to decide on how to shoot the scenes to get the message across but still to protect the young actors from anything too disturbing.
Q. What has your experience of making your own work been like so far? Would you recommend it to other writers?
A. It’s been really a rollercoaster ride. It’s kind of like doing a massive Jigsaw, you just hope in the end that all the pieces are there and they that fit. The scariest part for me is when people started donating money to help with the production. It suddenly hits you then you are not just responsible for your own stuff other people are relying on you, they believe in you. That’s scary!
The other thing that was hard was learning to let go of stuff in the script. The writer side of me said “no it must stay in”. But my producer side had to step in and ask what’s best for the overall project.
Would I recommend it to other writers? Most definitely yes! I’ve really enjoyed the process over the last seven months. With a little under six weeks until filming starts we are all getting very excited. I just have my fingers crossed that this rather large jigsaw comes together and there are no missing pieces!
Q. What are your hopes for the film?
A. Clearly to get it into a festival would be great. But, as ever, I aim higher. I would like the film to win a couple of awards during its time on the circuit. The ultimate aim is to get DAD into the BAFTA Shorts Section in 2014 – something which I firmly believe is achievable with the great team of professionals I have working on the film. Everybody involved believes in the script and that’s important, it means we will all give 150% to reach our goal.
Q. What other projects are you working on?
A. Writing-wise I have just finished the first draft of an action movie. Once filming has finished I want to get my teeth into the re-draft. Film-wise I have another short I would like to produce called ‘For Sarah’ which was written by Alan Campbell, the director on Dad. Once I’ve cut my teeth on those two films, I will be looking to produce my first feature film.
There’s currently a crowdfunding campaign running to raise the (incredibly modest) budget for the short – find out more about that at http://www.sponsume.com/project/dad
And I hope to keep you updated about the progress of the project!