So long 2019 it was a blast and our most hectic year since DN arrived online with our mission to celebrate and delve into the creation of the best independent cinema from across the globe. Last year through our official submissions process we curated a near 450 films and spoke to over 300 directors about their work! We realise that’s a bucket load to catch up on and so to save you from the paralysis of choice overload, we’ve put our curating skills to good use and picked out our favourite 20 filmmaker conversations from the past 12 months here on Directors Notes.

A Camel Must Choose Between Herself or the Good of the Herd in Alison James’ Dialogue-Free Short ‘Judas Collar’

“Once I was telling the story from the camel’s perspective, I felt it didn’t need any words.”

Imagine discovering that you’d unwittingly been conscripted into a plan to hunt down and kill your friends and family? That’s the devastating realisation which hits the lead character of Alison James’ multi-award-winning scripted, no-dialogue, live action short Judas Collar – a film made all the more impressive given that its emotional gut punch of a story is exclusively delivered by a cast of camels. Based on the real life culling practice of capturing and fitting wild camels with a tracking device which betrays the location of the herd, we spoke to James about the challenges of shooting in the Australian Outback and how she managed to get such heartbreaking performances from her camel stars. [read here]

Carol Freeman Creates an Astounding Journey of Self-Discovery in Paint-On-Glass Animation ‘The Bird & the Whale’

“When I started the film I really didn’t know for sure if I could pull off this technique”

Currently in contention as a nominee for this year’s Best Animated Short Academy Award, The Bird & the Whale from Paper Panther Co-Founder/Director Carol Freeman tells the lyrical tale of a Bird and a Whale lost at sea who together struggle to survive and along the way discover that you can find your voice in the most unusual of places. Online for only a limited time, Freeman guides DN through the interweaved development of her luscious paint-on-glass film and Chris McLoughlin’s original score and reveals how this near-obsolete form of animation required the team of animators to work error-free across the near 4500 paintings needed for this stunning 6 minute masterpiece. [read here]

Jessica Bishopp Explores the Sexual Undercurrent of the Suburban 70s in Hybrid Documentary ‘PAMPAS’

“I wanted to explore the concept of taking a myth as fact and exploring myth through documentary film”

One aspect of documentary filmmaking, which Director Jessica Bishopp rightly points out in the following interview, is that it can be great medium to explore myths, to use formal ‘reenactment’ as a place for observing what so many know, but hold as taboo. Commissioned for Channel 4’s Random Acts, Bishopp’s hybrid documentary PAMPAS focuses on the myth of the pampas grass plant in an era when the owning of said plant was a signal of sexual desire. That amongst the traditional suburban homes of the 60s and 70s these plants were used as signals for swingers and the sexually adventurous. Bishopp has taken the story of this plant and created a document which creatively blends true story with fictional representation. DN caught up with Bishopp to talk about how she discovered this ‘myth’ and why a hybrid doc was the best format to tell its story. [read here]

A Disturbing Lateral Thinking Puzzle Takes Centre Stage in Winnie Cheung’s Entertaining New Animated Doc ‘Albatross Soup’

Albatross-Soup-Short-Film-Winnie-Cheung

“Like the riddle, I had to figure it out as I went along”

Welcoming filmmakers back to the site is one of the highlights of what we do here at Directors Notes. Especially when it’s a filmmaker making a triumphant return, with a brand new short fresh off the festival circuit. It’s been over four years since we invited Winnie Cheung to introduce her time-travel short Dear Lucas to our audience, but today the Brooklyn-based filmmaker returns with her new animated documentary Albatross Soup – a psychedelic short based on ‘an entertaining yet disturbing lateral thinking puzzle’. Fresh from playing Sundance and GLAS festivals earlier in 2019, Cheung joins us to discuss her move from live-action to animation and how she went about funding her latest film. [read here]

Charlie Lyne Reexamines an Important Part of LGBT History in Operation Spanner Documentary ‘Lasting Marks’

“Hopefully the film paints a slightly less one-sided portrait of the reality of that case”

Prolific documentary filmmaker Charlie Lyne (last seen on DN here) is at BFI Flare this year with a short documentary based on Operation Spanner, a police case where 16 men were convicted of crimes of filmed consensual sadomasochistic behaviour. The case marked an important moment in LGBT history as the men were convicted of a supposed crime they were fully consensual to. DN caught up with Charlie ahead of Lasting Marks’ presentation at the festival to talk about the inception and creative process behind his history-changing documentary. [read here]

A Contrary Newcomer Shakes up the Established Order of a Rural Religious Community in Dee Meaden’s ‘Good News’

“Making a number of films in quick succession has made me see patterns in the process.”

We’ve been keeping tabs on Writer/Director Dee Meaden here since 2014 and although she’s spoken to us several times about her prolific output, it’s always regrettably been in the absence of her full films – and trust us we’ve tried bribes and begging aplenty. Well today our multi-year campaign finally bears fruit with Dee’s NFTS graduation short Good News making its grand entrance on DN and heralding not just that film’s arrival online but a five month long showcase of the talented British filmmaker’s never before available shorts – all premiering here on Directors Notes on the last Thursday of each month. [read here]

Alice Seabright Balances Good Humour with a Strong Heart in Crowdfunded Endometriosis Short ‘End-O’

“I feel there’s something in these intimate subjects that is so primal and speaks to much larger themes”

Once again, DN favourite Alice Seabright returns to our pages. Seabright has become a familiar face at DN and is known for her stories concerning taboo subjects, or topics that aren’t as openly talked about as they should be. She continues that trend with End-O, a crowdfunded short film starring Actor/Director Sophia Di Martino all about Endometriosis. End-O follows Jaq, a young woman who, along with her sister, suffers from Endometriosis. It’s a film which explores the trials and tribulations of their condition and relationship and is packed with heart and humour. DN spoke with Seabright ahead of End-O’s world premiere at the London Film Festival to talk crowdfunding, less discussed subjects and the importance of comedy. [read here]

Art, Food & Film Combine as Andrea Marini Pays Tribute to Chef Massimo Bottura in ‘A Visual Ode to A Hare in the Woods’

A Visual Ode to a Hare in the Woods short film by Andrea Marini

“It was only logical and inevitable to make art the backbone for this film.”

Art, food, life, death, destruction, creation – that’s enough to attempt to cover in a two-hour feature, let alone a 4-minute short. Andrea Marini’s A Visual Ode to A Hare in the Woods pays tribute to Massimo Bottura’s edible masterpiece Camouflage: A Hare In The Woods in a visually-arresting, thematically-complex short, told in six parts. Joining us today to share insights into his inspiration, production and just how good that dish is, Marini explains how he aimed to create a “visionary” film with one of the best chefs in the world. [read here]

We Are The Weirdos: The Final Girls Present A Selection of the Best Horror Shorts in Recent Years

“As OutKast says “The South got somethin’ to say.” I want to be the young Black girl from Rosedale, Louisiana who gets to say a little something in the horror genre. It’s about damn time.”

Coinciding with Women in Horror month, feminist horror film collective The Final Girls have put together a collection of short films that will be touring UK cinemas together. The selection boasts a strong and broad range of international female filmmakers and films, highlighting the best in the genre offered over the past year in short form work. DN, having already previously spoken to selected director Rebecca Culverhouse about #eatpretty, spoke to three of the other highlighted filmmakers about the inspiration behind their work. [read here]

Serafima Serafimova Exposes Female Body Hang-Ups to the Cleansing Spotlight of Collective Recognition in ‘Flawed’

“The idea for Flawed was born when my partner pointed out that I made ‘a weird face’ whenever I saw my reflection.”

Markedly less risqué than her rotoscoped reclamation of the expression of sensuality XX, London-based filmmaker and Short of the Week programmer/writer Serafima Serafimova’s Flawed throws back the private shades of self-perceived flaws to expose the concerns women have about their bodies, fed daily by Western culture’s ideals, to the cleansing light of collective recognition. Premiering on Directors Notes today, we sat down with Serafimova to discover how Flawed was inspired by her own hang-ups and how this 1 minute animation translated into a 10 month evening and weekend production process. [read here]

Matt Houghton Looks to Take the Very Personal & Make It Universally Relevant in Award-Winning LGBTQ Short ‘Landline’

Landline-Short-Film-Matt-Houghton

“The film hangs totally on the honesty and openness of our contributors.”

Originally landing on the internet a year ago, when it screened for a short time as part of the BFI Flare Festival and the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom initiative, Matt Houghton’s hugely successful Film London short Landline looks to bring its festival success online and spread its unique story to a brand new audience. Sharing the stories received by the only helpline in the UK for gay farmers, Houghton joins us to discuss why he wanted to tell this story, how he went about visualising a film centred on phone calls and why short film is “valuable beyond simply being a stepping-stone towards features”. [read here]

The Return of Filmstock, One of Britain’s Most Exciting Independent Film Festivals

Image credit www.fromthebalcony.uk

“We’ve always prided ourselves on films that show promise, films where you can see the filmmakers striving to do something.”

It’s been 10 years since the last Filmstock Festival and 50 since the original Woodstock festival that inspired the former’s birth. In that time, filmmakers Justin Doherty and Neil Fox have made a number of short films, followed-up by a feature called Wilderness, which we spoke to them about a couple of years ago, that has allowed the pair to tour the festival circuit, encountering numerous experiences that have caused them to reflect on their own history as festival organisers. DN caught up with Doherty and Fox for an extensive insight into the return of Filmstock, revealing what filmmakers and film-goers can expect from the festival in November. [read here]

Solmund MacPherson Discovers the Intimacy of Consensual Violence in ‘A Short Documentary About People Fighting’

“I didn’t want it to be about the physical act of fighting if you want that you’ll just go watch MMA.”

Back in 2009 I tried to cajole Harmony Korine into releasing his abandoned Fight Harm project as a short, and while Director Solmund MacPherson’s aptly titled A Short Documentary About People Fighting may not display the tragic high-comedy Korine planned, it does give us much more than footage of people taking lumps out of each other. DN went toe to toe with MacPherson to discover how a persistent joke became an oddly touching demonstration of the strange intimacy of consensual violence, and of course, what it was like for him to get hit in the face. [read here]

A Family Recall the Uncanny Tale of a Mother and the Ghost of Her Son in Christian Einshøj’s ‘Haunted’

“Capturing reality to me is not a matter of being a fly on the wall, but to stage situations that allow an amplified version of reality to play out.”

The story of Christian Einshøj’s Haunted is quite simple. A son returns home to film his mother retelling the story of how she saw the ghost of her son. The son then follows his mother as she goes about her daily routine in the aftermath. In actuality, this is a story about grief, separation and family ties. Einshøj films his mother with total observation, there is no forced perspective, no bias, just an unflinching portrait of a family affected. There’s also a great comedy to the narration and editing structure, which adds to the all encompassing feel Haunted channels. DN caught up with Einshøj to have an extensive dive into this mysterious and beautiful film. [read here]

Tomas Ramanauskas Helps us Come to Terms with Life on Earth in Existential Western ‘After Death, Before Hell’

“My initial wish was for a hand-drawn, old school kind of animation with all its imperfections.”

Filmmakers often have a specific goal in mind when it comes to the stories they tell. Some want to make you laugh, some want to make you cry, for Tomas Ramanauskas, the director of After Death, Before Hell, he wanted to question “the boundaries of human existence”. Joining us today to discuss how he went about achieving his goal, the Lithuanian filmmaker provides some behind the scenes insight on his distinct short film, seven years in the making. [read here]

Kristian Mercado Figueroa Explores the Complex Relationship of Womanhood Across Latinx Generations in ‘Mariposa’

“I really enjoy having things break in ways that are unexpected and keep viewers guessing.”

Part of the line up of the 9th season of Motionpoems, Mariposa brings together Director Kristian Mercado Figueroa (who last joined us on DN with award-winning music video Pa’lante) and contemporary poet Rachel Inez Marshall for an exploration of single motherhood and the emotional gaps which exist between generations of Latinx women. Touched by this lyrical contemplation of the maternal bond, we spoke to Figueroa about remaining true to the original poem’s themes whilst portraying the Latinx experience on screen. [read here]

Andrea Vinciguerra Exposes a “Terrible Curse in our Society” in Energetic Stop-Motion Short ‘No, I Don’t Want to Dance!’

“It’s hard to be controversial when you feature really cute and fluffy characters.”

Brexit, Trump, Immigration, the world is in turmoil and we all have something to worry about! Adding to that list and giving us something new to fret over is Director Andrea Vinciguerra – who wants us all to start considering just how dangerous dance can be. Joining us to discuss how he hopes to raise awareness of how this deadly phenomenon is spreading through his infectious stop-motion short No, I Don’t Want to Dance!, the London-based director talks puppets, funding and future projects with Directors Notes. [read here]

madeinhollywoodusa Explore the Relationship Between Pleasure & Risk in Mesmerising Gravity Defying Short ‘Eve’

“We’re much more intrigued by the struggle of creation than in any one version of perfection.”

Opening with a quote from high wire artist Philippe Petit, EVE from filmmaking duo Jeff Consiglio and Alex Naufel – better known under their collective moniker madeinhollywoodusa – reframes the graceful movements of Aerialist JB Naufel for a gravity defying exploration of the relationship between pleasure and risk. DN sat down with Jeff to discover the origins and ethos of madeinhollywoodusa and the challenges of conceptualising a hyper-real world which breaks the laws of physics. [read here]

Harvey Pearson Tracks a Burgeoning Relationship in SG Lewis Music Video Trilogy in ‘Dusk, Dark and Dawn’

“There’s also just this feeling of something real with how film captures the shot, a chemical reaction of light rather than a digital sensor logging ones and zeros.”

Director Harvey Pearson returns to DN following his one-shot rebirth film Gratitude, which we spoke to him about previously, to discuss a trilogy of music videos he’s created for SG Lewis. The three videos Dusk, Dark and Dawn each follow a relationship over the course of an evening, through to the morning. Set against the backdrop of a visually pulsing Los Angeles, Pearson navigates these two people through the ebbs and flows of young adult LA life. DN caught up with Pearson to talk about working with SG Lewis, shooting in LA, and his love of 16mm film. [read here]

Director Jared Hogan Asks You to Tap Into Your Darkest Thoughts With Unsettling Short Film ‘Pray for the Children’

“This film is not just about violence. It’s about the things that cloud our minds.”

As someone who writes a lot about short film, one of the main discussion points circulating around whether a piece works or not, is what you “take-away” from a viewing. A film can be deemed successful if it makes you laugh or makes you cry, but how about if it makes you uncomfortable? Jared Hogan’s latest short, Pray for the Children, is a film that falls into this bracket. An unsettling 14-minute short that centres around a young man haunted by visions of death, this is a bold, daring piece of filmmaking that’s certain to split opinion. Eager to find out more about his violent narrative and why he decided to make this film, Hogan joins us to discuss his controversial short and the discomfort surrounding it. [read here]

If you too would like to see your work featured on DN then submit your film now.

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