Saturday, August 10, 2019
1:00 PM 3:00 PM
Alex, you explore human emotions and needs with a creative use of visuals and no dialogue. Can you tell us why you chose not to use dialogue?
The Straight 8 challenge is a really fun and interesting way to make a film and the rules basically mean you can’t have any synced sound. You can of course use voiceover instead, but cinema is first and foremost a visual medium and I think it is a good test and training for a filmmaker to be able to tell a story without any dialogue, just like the pioneers of cinema managed to do for many years in the silent era. By forcing you to make strong visual choices that aren’t covered by dialogue, you end up making a stronger and truer ‘motion-picture’. I believe you should always get a sense and feel of what is going on in any film with the sound off and that dialogue is there to augment and enhance it, rather than being the main focus.
The use of music in comparison to the tone of the short is interesting, can you tell us what inspired the music?
There’s so much blue in the film, both visually and figuratively speaking, that I felt only a blues number would do! The lyrics also help to tell the story (having just said that dialogue is not so important!) and I managed to get the line ‘on Super 8 no-one can hear you scream’ into the song, which was in fact the inspiration for the whole film. The first song that plays in the fish and chip shop is a clip from the title song of my Straight 8 film from last year, Swings & Roundabouts, which was a prequel to this one.
What inspired you to shoot on super 8 cine-film?
With everything being digital these days, it’s really nice to go back to the source of cinema and create real images burned on celluloid. Super 8 was originally designed as a ‘consumer format’, but it is an incredibly exacting medium and very difficult to get good results. It is therefore an excellent learning and training process to be able to use it effectively. What’s more, the principles learned using Super 8 will absolutely roll over back into the digital realm and improve my filmmaking with modern equipment. Most importantly though, it just has a beautiful aesthetic and is infused with that good old movie magic.
We see you have been an ophthalmic surgeon for 15 years. Can you tell us what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
It’s something I’ve always been interested in and wanted to do, but didn’t know how to go about getting started. But then I discovered Met Film School in London, based in the classic Ealing Studios, which offers part-time courses in all aspects of filmmaking. This enabled me to give it a go and learn all I needed without risking the regular job first. Now less than 2 years later with 3 short films, many festivals and several awards under my belt, the day job has gone part time and I’m really excited about the future. I’m particularly happy to be selected for Chain NYC Festival, as this will be my first film screening in Manhattan which is a landmark moment for me, so thanks a million for including me in your wonderful festival!
Can you tell us what inspired your films subject matter?
I have to go back and talk about Swings & Roundabouts, my first Super 8 film, because that was inspired by some old 8mm footage of my mum and her brother when they were kids in about 1960 which they found in the attic. In that film, I projected the old 8mm footage and filmed it on Super 8 as a film within a film, in a scene where the main character in Blue Murder was reminiscing about his past before going back to England to find his Dad. So Blue Murder picks up where that left off, and where the theme was old 8mm footage in that one, I thought it would be fun to have a Super 8 camera, which is very much like a gun, used as a murder weapon! And because Super 8 is silent, it occurred to me that on Super 8 no-one can hear you scream - and what would you be screaming? Blue Murder!