interviews Simon Rickards


Today we share with you part 11 in the ‘ interviews’ series. Constant Hoogenbosch interviews Simon Rickards.

What is it that appeals to you about the short film?
I like the short film form because you can tell a story very quickly, which is a real challenge to be as concise with the ideas and story you want to tell.  I always try to think of a short film as jumping into the middle of a feature film, where we only see one scene of a larger narrative.  This very much appeals, as I like to have open ended films, that make people want to keep watching afterwards.

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What qualities do you believe make a good short film?
Having made around ten short films now, I believe that the shorter the film the more successful they are.  The ideal length being no more than 5 minutes.  I think this gives the right balance of making the narrative as precise as possible, without making the audience so comfortable that they are upset to leave.  Visual films also work much better than films that really heavily on dialogue.

To what extent is making short films a stepping stone to making feature films?
Very much a learning experience, where you can use the opportunity to learn what makes a good film experience (especially with regard to making the film.)  I have tired several different methods I have read about, and used a number of different cast and crew, and only now beginning to understand how I want to work.

What is the most challenging aspect of making short films?
The fact that short films are not financially viable projects (i.e there is never going to be a profit made), means that budgets for these will (and should) always be low.  I try to be ambitious with the films I make, but this sometimes means making the most out the little we have.  I have relied heavily on cast and crew working for free, and borrowing locations and equipment from people.

Do you have a preference to a certain genre?
I think drama are the hardest short films to make, especially if you are making them without the use of a lot of dialogue.  Therefore a well written drama would always be of most interest to me.

What do you like most when making a short film – writing the script – directing – camera?
I like directing the most, as I enjoy working with people and the energy that creative can generate in people.  Writing is also enjoyable, though very much harder and frustrating, and a much longer process.

Do you work with a script – where do you get the inspiration from?
Yes I always have a script which has been through several drafts.  I also like to have several people read it before production starts.  I have tended to write scripts that are inspired by real events (never a complete reconstruction though, just inspired by.)

Do you leave room for improvisation?
I also like to have rehearsals with the actor, where we can read through and try things via improvisation.  After the rehearsal I will rewrite the script to incorporate the ideas.  I haven’t usually used improvisation during actual filming, as time has been so limited, we have to stick to script to get everything finished in time.

Did you receive funding for your project?
No – I have never even tried.  From my experience there is little money in short films.  If I ever got funding I would put it straight into a feature projects.  It would be wasted on a short film.  I have spent my own money on making shorts though, I feel this is money most people spend on film school, which is a waste of time (read film books and shoot yourself!)

How did you go about assembling a film crew and actors?
Some friends helped, colleagues I knew also.  And web searches.  I found putting advertisements also worked.  Best to get people to come to you rather than finding them, as they are usually more keen if they have made the effort to contact you.

What did you use to edit the film?
Final Cut Pro – which I find has the best logging system.  Easy to use, move and evaluate.

What camera did you shoot on?
Canon 5D mrk 2 – very versatile and can produce some fantastic results.

Could you name one or two filmmakers that you consider great influences?
I am influenced by the realist film makers (that aren’t very popular these days.)  The great Italians of the 40s like De Sica, Rossellini and Visconti as well as British directors like Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

What are you working on next? Do you already have a new project in mind?
I have a number of short films in production coming up over the coming months (check out Godiva Films website to see them!)  I am also planing my first feature film to be shot next year.

What advice would you give to other short filmmakers?
Don’t procrastinate, just get out there and make a film.  And don’t forget to collaborate with people, don’t try to do everything yourself, you will reap the benefits if you include more people and give them roles they enjoy.

Thank you Simon!

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