interviews Charlie Bentley


Today we share with you part 12 in the ‘ interviews’ series. Constant Hoogenbosch interviews Charlie Bentley

What is it that appeals to you about the short film?                                                   In some ways a short film is harder to succeed with than a feature, mainly because you have to sell your audience on the concept, characters, story and conclusion in a matter of a few very short minutes. While a feature film can have a long scene of learning about a character’s history and their motives to build up to a satisfying conclusion, a short has to portray all of that in a very short film and make it enjoyable. It’s that challenge that I enjoy.

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What qualities do you believe make a good short film?                                             Ohh difficult question, I’ll answer that by saying what is the biggest mistake done with a short film, and that’s making it overcomplicated. Keep this simple, have a purpose to your film, an emotional reaction, a joke, a scare, whatever it may be, and focus on giving that the most impact possible.

To what extent is making short films a stepping stone to making feature films?      In my mind creating a short film is not only a chance to experiment, use different ideas and see what works and what doesn’t, but it’s also a way to build confidence in yourself. Personally before making Scratches in the Dark I wasn’t sure if I could make a film that was truly unnerving, when I made the Crook & the Cookie I wanted to know if I mix the light drama with the light comedy and make it work. Now I understand not only can I do it, but I can do it well, I have the confidence to push my limits even further by producing a feature film.

What is the most challenging aspect of making short films?                                    Same as making a feature film, it’s still a long process to create a short film, hours on set, weeks behind the computer planning and later editing, the biggest challenge is maintaining quality and constantly considering the big picture of the film. It can be easy to focus too much attention on a single shot because it looks stunningly beautiful, but the flow of the narrative is the most important thing and it can be a challenge to keep that mentality throughout the process.

Do you have a preference to a certain genre?                                                              I like to try something a little different every time I make a film, I was drawn to drama so I’ve made two of them before trying another with a slightly more comical tone, but then I decided to do something completely different and tried a horror, which has been successful. I think my next short will be a thriller, but I will likely focus back on drama soon afterwards.

What do you like most when making a short film – writing the script – directing – camera?                                                                                                                Despite the fact that I can get so stressed I want to cry, I adore being on set, working with the crew and whatever cast I have is so inspiring and incredibly exciting. Emily Dyble, who plays the girl in Scratches in the Dark, was an utter delight to work with and the same goes to my crew.

Do you leave room for improvisation?                                                                Always, I try and work with people who are not only brilliant at what they do, but always willing to try something different. If an actor, DoP, whoever comes to me with an idea I’ll always take it onboard and see if it works with the film. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always worth the risk.

Did you receive funding for your project?                                                           Several different ways, one film entitled Scratches in the Dark was funded with Kickstarter which worked well for me, I would like to try going through the iShorts for a project.

How did you go about assembling a film crew and actors?                                    I’ve been working with almost the exact same crew for almost all of my projects, their not only dear friends, but an incredible team who I can always rely on, we’ve worked on several shorts as well as features, including the upcoming Blood Money which has the same DoP, Gaffer, 1st AC as Scratches in the Dark. However for Scratches, I had to find a prop builder to create the dead cat that featured and after a search I came across Jen Cardno on FilmandTVPro, who could not have been better to work with.

What did you use to edit the film?                                                                               I use Premiere Pro CS6

What camera did you shoot on?                                                                                The film was shot on a Sony a7s

Could you name one or two filmmakers that you consider great influences?     Hmmmmm, I go back and forth with which directors I enjoy the most. While I love David Fincher for his style and incredible visuals, I have a love for Kenneth Branagh for going all out with his Shakespeare adaptations and enjoying the cinematic scope his working with. Steve McQueen would be another director I adore because his films keep things simple, everything looks beautiful and he takes his time to tell the story and make the movie as emotionally impactful as possible.

What are you working on next? Do you already have a new project in mind?          I am collaborating with a brilliant actress named Sabrina Hansen on a short thriller, I have no details to share just wait, because it’ll be intense, violent and emotional. Well I hope so anyway.

What advice would you give to other short filmmakers?                                      Don’t be afraid, try whatever nutty concept you have in your head, but always take your time, work out the details and make your weird little idea into the best final product it can be.

Thank you Charlie!

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