Not only do we live in a time where we can watch a film any time we want to no matter where we are. We can also fund the projects we want to see and here’s one that definitely deserves everyone’s attention and support. Twenty-four year old London Film School student and talented filmmaker Samuel Francis wants to bring his personal passion film to the big screen. Except he needs your help. I caught up with him to see how the project is going, what inspired this interesting project and his film influences which are nothing short of amazing. You can find out everything about his unique crowd funded film project The Scribblers and how to donate in the link below. Check out the interview and find out why it’s worth your time and investment.
As a filmmaker what drives you?
Samuel Francis – I quite strongly and personally believe that until you’re an established filmmaker you should be making films that are personal to you. Just go out there and do anything, it just doesn’t have to fit into the traditional three act structure. If it’s personal to you, you’ll care about it more. Don’t make films on the sole purpose of becoming successful and famous, because ultimately you are giving something of yourself to an audience and the public. The artistic form is all perspective. For example two directors could make a film about the exact same thing but due to the director’s individuality and unique perspective they will be two completely different films. The way Wes Anderson directs a film is very different to say Ridley Scott’s approach.
Very true. I hear from many that The Martian isn’t very good.
SF – I actually liked The Martian. Prometheus really bummed me out though. I’m a huge Alien fan you see.
(Laughs) Of course. I guess Prometheus is the sort of mess only a director like Ridley Scott could make though.
SF – That’s true. I want to like films more than I dislike them. Even if it’s the trashiest piece of film I can still find a redeeming feature about it. I’m sure that there are plenty of people that read novels that don’t like the entire novel but enjoyed a chapter or something. I like loads of stuff. You only learn by watching. If you say for example ‘I’m only going to watch action films and that’s it’ then that is going to limit your perspective on film as a whole. I’m doing this thing recently where I watch loads of films that I wouldn’t usually watch just to see what they have to offer and possibly provide new ideas that I am not familiar with. Stuff like Gaspar Noe films. I mean you know Enter the Void is, great it’s not exactly something you enjoy (laughs) but you know I fully appreciate.
For sure. Also be careful watching dark films at certain times. Tuesday afternoons seem to do the trick.
SF – Definitely. You can’t do dark films just before bed or any other time like towards the end of the week, because it will stay with you throughout the weekend and it’s hard to sort of shake off.
What were the films that influenced your project The Scribblers?
SF – The Zero Theorem. I liked Christopher Waltz’s performance a lot, I loved all the linguistics stuff. The way he consistently referred to himself as a plural. Almost like this altruistic thing where he consistently said ‘we’, he was attempting to prove that life was meaningless but having an idea he was more than one person. Again as we said before the film wasn’t amazing but those aspects really stood out and resonated with me. Visually Pierrot le Fou was a huge influence. The Scribblers I would say is very character driven though. So Weirdly Imelda Staunton in just about anything she’s ever done gave me inspiration for the lead role of Selma. I feel like she’s such a direct, clear figure with a strong maternal edge to her, that really drives the force of her films and that’s what Selma is. Easily my favourite character that I have ever written.
How is the crowdfunding going for The Scribblers?
SF – This is actually the first time I’m doing a crowdfunded film. I have spoken to other filmmakers that have had success with and also those that thought it was an absolute nightmare. It’s quite hit and miss really, some projects are suited for it and others aren’t, but I just want to try new creative stuff. One thing I do love about this sort of structure is it helps you to find a new audience, it’s a film that I want to make and I want to find an audience for it and crowdfunding puts those two desirable ideas together in a really hectic yet exciting way. I’ve already learnt loads and it’s not even finished yet. However, I am starting to realise now that if I run one again what to look out for but that’s filmmaking for you. If you don’t make mistakes you don’t learn anything.
What personally inspired you to make The Scribblers? It’s such a unique idea which is rare to come across these days?
SF – Basically I went through a period of depression. My doctor that was helping me at the time recommended that I make a notebook for myself, a positive data log. The idea being that at the end and start of everyday you note something you feel good about. It can be anything, literally anything. As I was building this up I thought to myself hold on there’s something in this. You know I felt anxious, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to go outside, I felt down and miserable all the time about everything etc but the log I kept was helping and I thought wait a minute there’s a story here somewhere. I started thinking in an ideal situation if I could control my entire environment everything would feel better and less anxious to me. That’s where the algorithm idea came from. Then the entire time I thought the story needs hope, there’s also a part of you saying calm down, this is ok, things will be ok, this isn’t the end and I wanted to manifest that as if you’re having a conversation with that part of yourself. Then Selma came about who is my favourite character ever, she’s a real force of hope. The story has been through so many drafts, I don’t rewrite the whole thing I keep copying each draft. So I can track from each one. My girlfriend has been such a huge inspiration; she’s a really good script editor. The other thing is I kind of wanted to experiment with some familiar ideas too. I was fascinated with idea of a room being the lead character’s, Ulysses, world. Student films a lot of the time take place in one room, but I didn’t want it to be a room he just happens to be in. He hasn’t left the space in a long time and I thought that sort of changed the idea of a student film and turned it on its head.
How many of you make up the film crew?
SF – So far there’s six of us in the film crew. Right now we are casting everybody seeing everyone possible. Again even if someone’s awful we will get something out of it. Like boxers they spar with all kinds of people to get a different look and feel. Weird to use a boxing analogy (laughs) but I see that the same way in casting. We see everyone then that way it will make us see something else that suits the character and add something we didn’t see or were aware of before. It may change the way you see a character. Actually going back to the influences Kaufman was a huge influence, Synecdoche, New York was a huge influence. I really like conceptual stuff. In the way that say art goes through its conceptual periods I feel like there should be an avenue in film for that too. I am aware people have this notion that conceptual films don’t work or sell but I would say if you take somebody like Christopher Nolan for instance you know he has been very successful. If you look at even his big action films such as Interstellar or Inception they have huge conceptual origins, and if you look at someone like Kaufman there is a similar conceptual basis too. They are all great films. Synecdoche, New York is one of the best films of the last 10 years. That is the first film he directed. No experience as a director, all star cast. People have very strong opinions on Kaufman films which is a good thing. He has a very unique voice like Woody Allen.
What are your favourite Woody Allen films?
SF – I think my favourites are Sleeper and Annie Hall. Also Hannah and Her Sisters and Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But You Were Afraid Ask. Again, going back to your point that’s a conceptual idea.
What’s your take on Film Vs Digital?
SF – So many people have such strong opinions on this (both laugh). I like both. I don’t see why there isn’t a place for both. It’s more expensive to shoot on film so first timers, people starting out, young directors can’t do it but don’t make them feel like lesser filmmakers. Yeah it’s not maybe truest form of what cinema is but it’s a different way of doing. It democratizes filmmaking. Filming digital in a sense shows you know you don’t have to be a Hollywood baby, raised on film a studio who knows a guy that knows a guy who can get 5,000ft of 35mm. I don’t think film will die; we have so many people that want to keep it alive. I think that’s one of the reasons Django looked great and Hateful Eight will because Tarantino is delving back into classical filmmaking by making a Western. That’s what early cinema was so obviously you shoot something like that on film it’s makes sense. It’s a decision people make. I don’t think ones right and ones wrong, it’s just different ways of filmmaking. I’m not massively into the whole ones better than the other. We cannot say ones not filmmaking.
Yes that’s definitely true. It seems to be creating some sort of elitist form of filmmaking.
SF – Yeah and I really don’t like that. It’s already a hard enough industry to get into without people saying unless you shoot on film, find 35mm then get a cinema to project your film then you’re not a proper filmmaker. That’s not right. Your shutting off this massive, eager, enthusiastic group of people with potentially new innovative ideas, don’t belittle by saying that they are not proper filmmakers because they don’t shoot on film. You should always try to find new ways of doing things. The tools are just that, tools. How many people wouldn’t watch something because it was shot on digital? The format isn’t the thing, it doesn’t define it. The film is the thing.