Interview with Director Richard Paris Wilson (A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES)

Played at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi FEEDBACK Film Festival – July 2017

“A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES” was the Winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the festival.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Richard Paris Wilson: I’m fascinated by monsters and magic and I was just drawn to the idea of a beautiful fantasy that was born out of a very dark reality. The bleaker the boy’s home life became the more his visions of the monster crystallised. That felt like a very rich clash to explore.

The idea of actually making it into a film started because I was teaching 14 and 15 year old kids the importance of media at the time, in a council-run centre in South London. I thought if we could get these kids involved in making an actual film together, I could spark a bit of creativity in them, and perhaps demystify a lot of the scary things about filmmaking. All of the dozen or so students involved had big responsibilities, whether they were a camera trainee handling the lenses or our 14-year old first AD running the set. It was the funnest and most chaotic media lesson ever.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took awhile; too long. I think I wrote the script in early 2014, got approved for funding in the summer, shot in the winter, and then worked on post-production on-and-off for 12 months. We ran out of money at the end and we started to rely a lot on people working on post on the weekends. And I started to have new ideas and we started to layer music and VFX on top, and it just kept growing and growing, but at a very slow pace. I think it premiered in its first festival in Spring 2016, and it’s still playing at festivals into the second-half of 2017.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Dark Fantasy

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Money was probably the biggest issue since many of the ideas – namely the monster – were going to be expensive, but we cracked that so early in the process it wasn’t something we battled with for long.

I do remember our first day of shooting. We had a 10-year old lead actor who we were pushing to the brink. It was midnight and we’d been shooting all day and we needed one more scene. We had a baby on set and a man in a monster costume on stilts in the mud, a crew full of students who were due home hours ago and, then it started raining. Thankfully everybody turned up to the second day.

What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Pure joy. It was a real thrill to hear people talking so thoughtfully about many of the issues and themes of the story. I am very thankful for seeing some of the discussion.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea was born out of a writing group I used to go to, where you’d have to present a new idea every fortnight. Two of the people in the group, Tommy Nagle and David Balfe, get a credit since they were integral in the story’s infancy. The actual screenplay grew very organically from the basic premise. I think the key was figuring out the monster had to eat the family dog – that created a very specific kind of tone.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Hook as a kid, Batman as a teenager and Donnie Darko as a 20-something. Now I’ve just turned 30 I’m rewatching Hook again

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s incredibly user-friendly. It’s very easy to search, submit and then keep track of all your entries. It’s the best system I’ve used.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

How to Disappear Completely by Radiohead, because it captures melancholy so perfectly.

What is next for you? A new film?

For short films, it’ll either be a fantasy set entirely inside a laundrette or a drama set on an island in Phuket. It depends on funding.

Otherwise I’m making a short video for the John Muir Trust as I try and get more into commercials.

 

A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES, 15min, UK, Fantasy/Drama
Directed by Richard Paris WilsonThe story of a Boy who lives in a caravan park with his Mother, and a Monster who lives in a nearby woods…

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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