Giles Alderson was joined by When The Screaming Starts writer/director/producer Conor Boru, star/producer Octavia Gilmore and producer Dom Lenoir on this week’s The Filmmakers Podcast.
They discussed how they got involved in the project, investors, producing a feature film, making a mockumentary, distribution, festivals and more.
Conor says that he underestimated how long the film was going to take.
‘It’s been about three years that this beast has been in our lives, and dominated vast parts of it. It’s seemingly never-ending, or at least until this point. And now it’s out there.’
Octavia read Ed Hartland’s first draft and fell in love with the concept. ‘And then Conor started working with Ed and it changed a lot.
I was really lucky to know most people for several years from a theatre company where we all worked together. And we’ve been making films, theatre shows, all sorts of different things. It was great to work with friends on a project that, as a collective, there was just a real passion for.’
‘We’d been trying to get a feature made for a long time. We had some scripts and we needed bigger budgets and we were shopping them around but obviously, we’re unknown entities in the industry, so weren’t having much joy. And then Ed approached me with this concept.
It’s a very different film from the initial outline, but the heart of it was there and the documentary aspect just made it seem achievable,’ said Conor.
The Uniqueness of the Film
Casts are usually smaller in first features; but in this case, the cast was on the bigger side.
The quality of the writing was a real asset because many of the characters were unique and really appealing, (the actors) had a lot to stick their teeth into. So a lot of actors wanted to be involved.’
Octavia said that assembling the team was quite quick and easy. A lot of their acting friends were happy to be involved.
From Crowdfunding to Feature Film
They had the idea of doing a crowdfunding campaign to shoot a teaser, but while they were doing it they realised they’d made mistakes but had the opportunity to try things out and learn what did and didn’t work in their styles, cinematography and writing.
‘If we’d started knowing the final budget, how much time and energy it was going to take, we may have never taken that first step.’ Conor said that it was very stressful not knowing where the next bit of money was coming from, but that they were fortunate that the ‘film was funded by the majority of the people you see on screen, our friends, the actors all chipped in.
They put money into the film, it’s the opposite of your average film. The actors are invested. It’s a testament to the project and everyone’s passion.’
Working with the DP
Adrian Musto had done all of their short films. ‘He’s had this amazing career and has all his equipment, and we needed Adrian to come on board this project.
He said I’ve got a window in January. We were nowhere ready to go, but we just thought, it’s got to be January. And it gave us the rocket fuel we needed.
I think it was just taking one day at a time. When you start to think of everything that’s in front of you to do, especially when it comes to shooting, it can be overwhelming.
The directing wasn’t the most challenging part though.’
Taking a Step Back
‘Knowing when to veer away from your plan is a skill that you have to develop. There was a very ambitious day – we were planning to shoot the whole sequence in one day. And we got almost all of it done and Conor made the call to step away, and at the time it felt like we could do it, we could push through.’
It’s essential to take time, give the film space, and give everyone a break. Octavia says ‘it’s a skill that has to be developed, being realistic about your capacity and adapting at the moment is really something that I took away from the shoot in general.’
Editing the Film
Conor and Alan, the editor, were working remotely. There were early screenings where everyone would watch the film and give notes. ‘That process was really important in terms of shaping the film.’ After that ‘it came down to finding people who were going to work low budget and do a good job. The post house was a good place that (Dom) had worked with before and then it came down to finding a good sound designer and a good composer that would do it for the right money as well. It’s just assembling a team that can work together.’
Last Words of Advice
Octavia: The biggest thing we’ve gained is the knowledge that we can do it. We can get the ball rolling and we can execute it. But we also know how much work every single frame is, and every single line of a contract has to be read and thought about and discussed.
It’s not a race to the finish line, you’ve got to focus on every single step of the way and take each day as it comes and responds to the needs of the moment.
Conor: You’ve got to love it because it’s that much work. I’m not just going to take on any old project now. I’ve got to pick and choose what I’m passionate about.
Because you’re in it for the long haul, you better love what you’re doing.
Dom: I’ve certainly learned the budget isn’t actually relevant to good films. It comes down to the team, the quality of the idea and the execution. Overall it’s down to the people.
For me from Conor Boru, Octavia Gilmore and Dom Lenoir, listen here.