Lotus Hannon interviews directors and asks them what they’ve gained through being an Associate member of Directors UK.
Tell us about yourself and the work you do?
When I graduated from the Northern Film School in 2005 I was determined to make music videos. Within a few short years I was signed to Academy Films with two fellow directors under the collective name Left Eye Blind. It was hard and at times gruelling work, with fast turnarounds and continually shrinking budgets. Eventually, I left the collective and set up my own production company Little Northern Light to refocus on producing drama. Since then I’ve been working as a freelance editor and writer/director. I’m currently finishing my fifth short film Pulsar, a 30K sci-fi short starring David Gyasi (Interstellar) and Jessie Buckley(War and Peace), made possible by winning the budget through The Pitch at Pinewood. Coming off the back of a great festival run with my psychological short film Murmur, I have two feature film projects now in development.
I first heard about Directors UK while on a mentoring scheme with Women in Film and Television. I hadn’t considered joining as I made music videos, commercials and short films and so felt I couldn’t apply as I was yet to direct a feature film or TV. Then I learnt I could join as an Associate member.
How would you say being an Associate member of Directors UK has benefitted you?
In the past year, I’ve benefitted from legal advice on contacts, private screenings with director Q&As, bespoke industry events, jobs/training opportunities, and from the community as a whole. I’ve had discounts to attend film festivals and conferences, and I’ve made contacts that have become mentors and film champions.
I’ve learned so much just from listening and being present at these events. It’s given me tremendous confidence to follow my instincts with my own films, tips and ideas for better communication, and new depths to my technical knowledge.
Directors UK invited me to write an article on the experience of shooting Pulsar, which gave me the chance to share my experience of integrating VFX and CGI into my practice. In a single year, I’ve been delighted to see how they promote new talent and encourage young directors.
In practical terms I’ve been able to explore my own interests in storytelling too. Last year I took part in the Challenge ALEXA competition run by Directors UK with professional industry support from ARRI. After pitching my idea to Directors UK I was given a full shooting package with an ALEXA XT and Anamorphic lens set with a two-day shoot limit and a three-week turnaround.
The resulting short film, Murmur, surprised me by playing a dozen festivals shortly after release, picking up an award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker and awards for the lead actors. This opportunity to create new work through the Challenge has reinvigorated my directing process and strengthened my relationships with crew.
What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at the start of your career?
My advice would be: to take all that pressure off myself. It was incredibly competitive when starting out in music videos, but film careers are about sustainability and resilience. Oh and make friendships, not contacts – it’s a long game.