Interview with Filmmaker Tom Wright (STOCKHOLM)

STOCKHOLM was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Stockholm was inspired by the saddening and way-to-high statistic that over 50% of gay, bi or queer men have experienced sexual assault. When this particular trauma is inflicted on gay, bi or queer men, it often compounds pre-existing sexual shame, causing nuanced and specific consequences to both individuals and our community as a whole.

As the vital Me Too movement continues to resonate, we want to ensure male survivors are included in the conversation. So the mission of the film was to truthfully explore their knotty experiences, which still too often remain taboo.

Could we create a film that recreated the complicated experience of trauma memory to help our audiences understand that experience? Could we truly put audiences in the mind, body and soul of our strong protagonist as he fights for happiness?

These questions motivated us to create a new visual language for the film – almost entirely devoid of dialogue – that we hope creates a unique visceral tone that’s conducive to our mission.

Due to the nature of shame, we felt that many male survivors were more likely to watch a film that could be easily received digitally or experienced in private. But as shame is a social problem, it is best dissipated through social situations, so we’re delighted that the film will be experienced communally at the festival and hopefully beyond.

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

The writing of Stockholm happened around other larger writing projects and commitments, so took around four months, with the support of brilliant dramaturg Catlin McLeod. Things move rapidly once producer and cinematographer Darius Shu was on board, and we produced, shot and edited the film in just a few months after receiving confirmation of funding.

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

Honest. Complex.

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

Shooting the initial bar sequence was a challenge. It’s made up of lots of short shots, mostly extreme close-ups, as the actors move through a variety of emotional states on the date. Creating it became like movement direction. We didn’t want to hear any of the dialogue, so we had the actors improvise text whilst we focussed on building the pallet of moving images we could patchwork the emotional journey together with. Then it was all down to the fiddly edit.

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

It’s always galvanizing to see audiences connecting to something you’ve created as an artist. My background is theatre, so I’m used to experiencing that sort of feedback live with an audience. We’ve been working on the film in a silo for what feels like a long time, so we’re really excited to hear what people make of it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Having worked in the theatre industry for around ten years, I was keen to develop my skills into different modes of storytelling. After dabbling with long-form TV drama, I settled upon film-making as the structure suits my ideas. I love the purity of vision in film, and am revelling in the potential it’s opening up in the stories we want to tell.

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

I have a habit of not wanting to watch a film more than once – there are so many others to watch! But I do love Weekend by Andrew Haigh, and have been known to watch that again in order to introduce it to a friend.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Good question. Right now I’m still taking every opportunity to learn about the craft. So anything that supports that. Mentoring is a really great way of learning, so perhaps connecting film-makers with more experienced practitioners.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s brilliant that there is one centralised platform to apply to all the festivals. In theatre, we don’t have a tool like this, meaning we have to apply to every individual theatre or festival individually with varying application processes. So FilmFreeway is incredibly easy in comparison.

10. What is your favourite meal?

Sausage, mash and beans. I know… Don’t ask.

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

Darius and I have recently got funding from a big commissioner to create our next short film. Then we want to move on to a feature. Watch this space!

By matthewtoffolo

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

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