So 2018 has been a busy year for us here at Directors Notes…really busy! Not only did we feature a near 300 interviews with talented filmmakers of all stripes, we finally launched our (long overdue!) submissions process, which meant that team DN watched and curated more films in 2018 than at any point in our 12 year history. And so, we thought it only right to guide you through this sea of knowledge by highlighting 20 of our favourite articles from the past 12 months. Think of this less as a ‘best of’ but rather a curated snapshot of the diverse filmmaker conversations we had on Directors Notes throughout 2018.

Oliver Schwarz Follows an Intimate Relationship Between a Man and His Beloved Silicon Doll in ‘Dream Girl’

“I was interested in exploring the mechanisms of relationships and what we need to feel loved.”

Oliver Schwarz’s Dream Girl is a tender and touching exploration of love and loneliness in modern society. The film is like nothing I have ever seen before and places the viewer in a world between imagination and reality as it explores basic human need. Oliver and I spoke about how he planned for such an observational style documentary and what the piece conveys about the nature of relationships. [read here]

Canadian Olympians Become Works of Art in Ian Pons Jewell’s Painterly ‘Be Olympic’ Commercial

“Slow motion can be hypnotic but it can also screw you.”

Ian Pons Jewell, a featured regular here at DN, has produced yet another captivating piece of short cinema. This time, in the form of an advert for the Canadian Olympic team. Ian pays homage to fine art and renaissance paintings to celebrate the esteem and power of these athletes’ stories to create powerful and meaningful images. I spoke to Ian about his creative choices in selecting how to represent these remarkable individuals. [read here]

Life is a Game That Must be Played in Páraic McGloughlin’s Innovative Experimental Short ‘Arena’

“I am trying to express the human condition, my human condition and ideas of how amazing and crazy it is to be alive.”

Life is a game that must be played is the premise of artist Páraic McGloughlin’s experimental short Arena. Created using Google Earth imagery, the piece is a fast-paced look at the earth from above, reflecting the shapes we make, the game of life and the planet as our playing ground. I had the pleasure of picking Páraic’s brains to find out how he created this unique piece of filmmaking and what he feels is the message behind his fascinating artwork. [read here]

Giada Ghiringhelli Contemplates the Glorious yet Fleeting Wonder of Life in Sensorial Short ‘Rhythm of Being’

“The film was like a monster and I was just following its growth and its path without knowing where it would lead me.”

An ode to life and all the richness it holds, Giada Ghiringhelli’s mesmerising experimental short Rhythm of Being is a glorious sensorial piece exploring the concept of existence as an inescapable, perpetual generative process. We asked Giada to recount the experimentation, hard work and frustration which paved the three year journey of this entrancing contemplation on the fleeting wonder of life. [read here]

Xavier Legrand Throws Open the Closed Doors of Domestic Abuse in Award Winning Debut Feature ‘Custody’

“The film asks a very important question: can an abusive partner be a good parent?”

In what I could only describe as ‘domestic horror’, Xavier Legrand’s Silver Lion winning debut feature Custody systematically ramps up the emotional tension to such an unbearable level that by the time the credits rolled I was having difficultly breathing. DN spoke to Xavier about the copious research into domestic abuse which informed the film and how he retooled the genre tropes of the thriller to better serve this unflinching observation of the traumatic effects of manipulation and fear. [read here]

Jean-Paul Frenay Manifests Monstrous Human Suffering in Stunning SFX Promo ‘The Fool You Need’

“It’s important to get the creative process unconstrained and pure.”

Award-winning Director Jean-Paul Frenay plunges us into the deep dark depths of the human psyche, exposing the esoteric struggles we endure but try so hard to mask. As the battles we face are mesmerisingly resurrected onscreen, the only comfort we can derive from The Fool You Need is the sentiment that we are not alone. The themes of life, love and death are stunningly executed through his art of working seamlessly with SFX. In our interview, Jean-Paul speaks about intertwining physical elements with human emotion to yield this captivating music video. [read here]

Anna Mantzaris Explores the Catharsis of Explosive Impulses in Animated Comedy ‘Enough’

“I wanted people to think it was funny, but at the same time a little little bit painful.”

Anna Mantzaris’ Enough comedically chronicles those everyday moments where life just gets a little bit much. Inspired by her move to London and her appreciation of Roy Andersson’s visual style, Enough’s deadpan humour hits all the right cathartic spots all under the umbrella of gloomy everyday London. I spoke with Anna to find out how she created this fantastic short. [read here]

A Sexual Education Lesson Becomes Eruptive For All The Wrong Reasons in Alice Seabright’s ‘Sex Ed’

“The advantage of running a shot for so long is that you’re really creating the situation in the room rather than reconstructing it later in the editing suite.”

Alice Seabright returns to DN with comedy short Sex Ed, a film about a Sex Education teacher appropriately named, Ed. We meet Ed during an intense moment of contemplation as he prepares for a day of teaching, he’s clearly dealing with some heavy news and through Alice’s clever and succinct direction, we become absorbed in the stress and trauma he’s dealing with as he enters the classroom. We asked Alice to share how she used direction to reflect Ed’s emotions, how working with Mark Weinman (who portrays Ed) influenced the screenplay and how working with a classroom of teenagers challenges a production. [read here]

“Now you need to load the dishwasher” – How Christine Franz Captured the Electric Rise of Sleaford Mods

“We had the cool chance to make something different to what you normally see.”

Like most great music documentaries Bunch of Kunst is not just about the musicians it is following, it’s about lots of other things. These things are woven in with subtlety, through the attention that is paid to people on all sides – the band, those around them, the fans – and through director Christine Franz’s expert understanding of music documentary and wider observational documentary conventions, coupled with a punk willingness to do what she wants. [read here]

Richard Raymond Makes Cinema History Exploring the Sacrifices We Make for Love in ‘Souls of Totality’

“We had no money, no equipment or crew — we were at the mercy of an impending deadline set by the universe.”

Love is all encompassing and has the power to drive the decisions we make and ultimately shape the lives we live. Richard Raymond viscerally explores this reality in dramatic short Souls of Totality whilst also ambitiously filming the short during a live solar eclipse. This is the first time in cinema history that a solar eclipse has ever been captured in a narrative film, Richard shares with us his experience of making film history. [read here]

Renata Gasiorowska Explores Sex-Positive Liberation in Erotic Animated Comedy ‘Pussy’

“A teenage school group accidentally came to a screening in a small Polish town and the teachers were super offended and it almost ended up being a tiny scandal!”

Renata Gasiorowska’s humorous, but by no means distasteful, animated short Pussy is a vibrant and refreshing take on one girl’s evening act of solo pleasure. It’s a short that carries a lot of vitality in today’s climate of gender and sexuality discussion, and one which embraces desires, instincts and, above all else, liberation. We spoke with Renata about her development process, the audience reaction so far and offending teachers. [read here]

Sam Gainsborough Takes Claymation Life-Size with Stop-Motion/Live-Action Hybrid ‘Facing It’

“This visible layer of reality is an important part of the story that would be lost if the entire film was stop-motion.”

Animation, and in particular stop-motion, still amazes me and I love when filmmakers do something new and inventive with the technique. One such director recently blowing my mind is NFTS graduate Sam Gainsborough, with his film Facing It. I’d been lucky enough to see a version of the short when it was a still a work-in-progress and it was clear this was something special. A mixed-media stop-motion/live-action hybrid looking at how relationships mould us as people, it’s one of the most exciting shorts I’ve seen on the festival circuit in recent times. Sam joins us to discuss the incredible craft involved in creating his short and what he intends to do with this inventive technique next. [read here]

Rob Savage Delivers Unrelenting Action & Adrenaline with Micro-Horror ‘Salt’

“We wanted Salt to be a single set piece that was so packed with ideas and scares that the audience forgets to hold their breath.”

It’s been over four years since we first interviewed Director Rob Savage on DN and it’s fair to say he’s become somewhat of a fixture on Directors Notes. Back again, for a fifth feature on our site, Rob joins us to discuss new Micro-Horror Salt – a two-minute short brimming with atmosphere and tension. [read here]

Charlotte Regan Explores the Father/Son Relationship in B&W Short ‘Dodgy Dave’

“My stories are always in a working class world as it’s the only one I know.”

One look at London-based writer/director Charlotte Regan’s IMDB page will quickly let you know just how hard she’s worked over the past two years, since BAFTA-nominated short Standby, to make her mark as a director. Seven more films and a healthy portion of festival recognition have followed, but today Charlotte kindly takes some time out to tell DN how the parental relationships surrounding her growing up inspired her drug dealer takes his son to work short Dodgy Dave. [read here]

Lorenz Wunderle Weaves a Violent Psychedelic Tale of Pain, Loss & Vengeance in ‘Coyote’

“I felt that I would make a film that you love or hate to watch.”

A psychedelic assault on the senses in the very best way possible, Lorenz Wunderle’s story of a coyote tormented by fear, anger and grief after his family is attacked by wolves is a blistering tale of loss, pain and vengeance that will grab you between its animated teeth and shake you senseless. We discovered how Lorenz used bold and uncompromising animation to explore the turmoil of human emotions and the savagery of violence. [read here]

Dan Castro Explains How He Tried to Capture the Feeling of an Anxiety Spiral in ‘Herman Brown is Feeling Down’

Herman Brown by Dan Castro

“It’s a fascinating, exhausting way of working.”

As cold as it may sound to admit, the combination of the words ‘student film’ & ‘anxiety’ is a pairing that fills me with a certain sense of apprehension before a viewing. With that in mind, for me to not only enjoy such a film but want to write about it is a real credit to the filmmakers involved. Dan Castro’s RCA grad film Herman Brown is Feeling Down brings life to a well-explored subject by injecting it with humour and styling it like a retro children’s TV programme. We spoke to Dan to discover the inspiration behind his distinct aesthetic and unravel the personal influence on this surreal story. [read here]

Life’s Pretends & The Lollipop Girls: An In-Depth Conversation With Multidisciplinary Artist Denise Prince

“I’m fascinated with the fact that we constantly make meaning and mostly don’t notice that we are because it seems natural.”

It’s a cruel irony that childhood is a time in which we expectantly look to the supposed freedom of our future adulthood only to miss the carefree existence of our nascent years upon arrival. In poetic experimental short The Lollipop Girls Struggle on the Hard Earth, Austin artist and filmmaker Denise Prince indulges in the fantasy of a return to childhood only for it to be disrupted by the force of desire. With a body of work which spans mediums, techniques and artistic realms, it was our pleasure to engage Denise in a wide-ranging conversation about her larger artistic expression, as well as the specifics of life’s pretends expressed by the lollipop girls. [read here]

Isabella Eklöf Exposes the Rot Beneath the Glitzy Veneer of Power & Money in Unflinching Debut ‘Holiday’

“I suffered from being a woman and also difficult, I feel like you can choose one or the other.”

An assured debut feature which despite its frank depiction of sexual violence never slips into the male gaze and in fact, purposely turns the tables on the long problematic trope of the femme fatale, Holiday from Swedish writer/director Isabella Eklöf, uses the life of glitzy excesses experienced on the Turkish Rivera by a newly minted gangster girlfriend as an indictment of ultra-liberal capitalism – where beneath the veneer of wealth and beauty lies the dark reality of a world in which violence rules and money talks. DN spoke to Isabella about our problematic attraction to power, the importance of trust when staging a rape scene and why she took the long way round to feature directing. [listen here]

Jonny Look Goes in Search of the Perfect Sound in Absurd Fruit Bats Documentary ‘Getting In A Van Again’

“I cherish illogical measures just as much as I do proper, thought-out experimentation.”

Doing little to dispel the head scratching reactions to the baffling practices of musicians searching for a new sound, Jonny Look joins Fruit Bats’ Eric D. Johnson to document his quest to achieve sonic excellence with the assistance of an Emotional Engineer in Getting In A Van Again. We asked Jonny to share the journey, littered with destroyed bowls and dead plants, that led to this delightfully absurd and impractical hunt for a song infused with real emotions. [read here]

Claudia Barral Observes Space Outside of Time in Exquisite Experimental Short “__ /__ /__”

“In all my works the aesthetic sense predominates over the rest of the elements.”

An exquisite rumination on time and the moments we spend across the seconds, hours and years of life, Spanish filmmaker Claudia Barral draws inspiration from Richard McGuire’s seminal comic Here for her multi-layered meditation on the nature of temporality, “__ /__ /__”. DN caught up with Claudia to discover how she threw open a window to the 4th dimension in this elegant exploration of the relationship between time and space. [read here]

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