Interview with Filmmaker Darren Doherty (TIED)

TIED played to rave reviews at the April 2021 THRILLER/SUSPENSE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I started out as an Animator and had a history of animating and directing Idents and sketches for comedy shows as well as making animated films. However, as a screenwriter, I’ve always written all kinds of stories and I really wanted to make a live action short. I developed the script and really wanted to play with status between characters within the film. As the script and characters developed, so more people got on board and it soon snowballed. Going forward, I’m working on feature projects, and this film could help with getting those projects off the ground.

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

This short took a long time for sure and probably much longer than I initially thought it would. I think mostly because the budget was so small! I was a flat mate of one of the actors originally and I started writing a character for him, and the project grew from there. Finding the locations during pre-production was a challenge, but I was lucky and the locations I approached were really receptive to what I was pitching. I was also lucky to have a brilliant cast & crew who really came together to make this film possible, even when it seemed like we were really up against it at times.

We shot at the first location (in the railway tunnel) during the summer, but then shot at another railway location (where we shot the train) a few months later in the winter, just after The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliffe had finished filming. We also shot pick-ups and details in a studio.

I met my editor at the Berlin Talent Campus and we always said we’d work together – he’s based in Copenhagen, which wasn’t a problem as he came to stay with me for a while to really shape the film as we locked the picture. The film had a real international co-production feel about it with the Sound Designer and Composer living in Berlin, but this was all made possible through working online.

A lot of the time I had to wait for the next window of opportunity when people would be free which was totally fine, as they were people I really wanted to work with. The film was always moving forward and growing, so it made sense not to try and rush it either.

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

Very Intense!

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

There were lots of obstacles, mostly through having such a small budget, but that’s part and parcel of filmmaking; coming up against problems and trying to figure them out creatively. I think the two biggest obstacles occurred during Pre-Production. An actor I originally cast dropped out as the Royal Shakespeare Company had offered him a six-month contract, and this was a week before we were due to shoot – I just couldn’t compete with the Bard. Luckily, he sent the script to another Actor he knew, and luckily the new Actor was actually better in terms of casting and was brilliant to work with, so it was a happy accident. The other obstacle was the original Sound Recordist dropping out, also due to being offered other work. I talked to lots of people, but when I heard myself saying ‘night shoots in a railway tunnel for expenses’, it really probably didn’t sound like a good prospect! Again, I lucked out when a Sound Recordist came on board who really liked the script and the technical challenge of working in a railway tunnel pretty much surrounded by dirt, insects and pigeons!

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

Wow – amazing! I felt so lucky to be able to actually see & hear feedback from the audience, especially in this time of Covid and Lockdowns. A lot of the times I’ve had films screen in festivals, unless you’re doing an audience Q&A, you don’t really get to audience feedback and comments directly. So, to have the chance to hear what audience members thought of the film and what they had to say was awesome, especially as I’m on the other side of the world in London. The comments are really valued and appreciated, and I thought the feedback was perceptive, insightful and really useful too. I’m just really pleased you selected the film and I want to say a huge thanks to the audience for watching – it’s been a real morale booster for me too.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to write a character driven, high stakes Thriller, a film where we, the audience, are thrown right into the deep end, and I loved the notion of a wound between two characters, and could it be healed? I also wanted to play with shifting status between characters in a heightened situation and tell the story visually. As a kid in Manchester I grew up right next to railway tracks, a railway line running right behind our house in where all kinds of stuff happened. So, there’s always been something that’s captivated me visually and psychologically about that setting. Tied is a window into a bigger story that I’m developing in the background.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Haha that’s such a tough question! I’ve seen so many films so many times…Blue Velvet, Vertigo, Alien, The Exorcist, Ringu, La Haine, Don’t Look Now, The Shining…Mulholland Drive – sorry too many!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

From a filmmakers POV, I think it’s worked really well for me. Being able to upload a film, sort out all the submission requirements and filter festival searches to find Festivals that suit, I’ve enjoyed using the Platform.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Just like question 7, this is a tough one as I love all kinds of food – I love Italian, but I’m really into South Indian food at the moment – I had a great Masala Dosa the other night.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Having had done a lot of home schooling over the last year, I’ve been working on various projects with various collaborators when I can. I’m shooting online content for a Theatre Company next week and I’ve also just finished the latest draft of a pilot screenplay for a series (a horror series). We also stared a new animated short film last year pre lockdown, but it’s been understandably slow going given current situation – hopefully that will pick up. I’ve also been working on a new feature film idea, a kind of trippy jazz horror, and hopefully we can shoot a proof of concept short for this at some point this year – fingers crossed.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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