Interview with Filmmaker James Alexander Allen (TWO METRES)

TWO METRES was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the December 2021 COMEDY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

During the first lockdown in Britain, I would go on many countryside walks for my single allotted outdoor exercise. People would virtually jump into hedges to avoid each other- and there was a footbridge over the railway line that was always a source of tension if somebody was coming the other way. I started to think if it was any narrower it might trigger a standoff of some sort- and the moment ‘standoff’ came into my mind, the guiding principle for Two Metres was there.

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

Initially I was going to collaborate with a fellow director on a challenge in March when I wrote the script, but we ultimately decided to go with her idea instead. I eventually got the film shot in one day in May, edited by June and finally colour graded in August. So I guess it was a 5/6 month process.

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

Silent farce.

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

The fact that I cannot colour grade to save my life! The weather changed halfway through the day, which made maintaining shot consistency and quality very difficult. I was blessed with our genius DP Jakub, who not only controlled the white balance beautifully but also found a far better location than I would have gone with so the sun didn’t interfere hardly at all. Otherwise we’d probably still be working on it!

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

I honestly wished I’d filmed myself reacting to it. I had no idea what was coming, and it put the biggest smile on my face. Seeing all these people I’ve never met saying such lovely things brought so much joy- I’ve shown the cast and crew and we’re all super chuffed.

Toronto Comedy Film Festival really goes the extra mile and deserves all the love for it.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Deep down I always wanted to make films- it just took me a long time to figure out it was at all doable. At age 10/11 I started making stop-motion animations with my Star Wars action figures, and later claymotion shorts with an eye to joining Aardman or similar studios- surely nobody would let me make live action films with real people!

Then I was foolish enough to listen to the career advisor who advised against pursuing it and went into academia, but studied Film at A-Level. I chose to write a script for the final project instead of a short film because I figured didn’t have enough friends mad enough to make a whole film with me! So began my screenwriting life.

It was only after university when I really powered ahead with my screenwriting that I was able to make the networking connections suitable for making my first short. Moral of the story is, I’d be a lot further along if I’d stopped waiting for permission sooner.

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

It’s got to either be one of the Star Wars films or a classic black-and-white film called Oh! Mr Porter. I watched that movie every single weekend in my formative years. Will Hay is kind of a forgotten comedy legend from the 1930s and I make it my mission to stan him to whoever will listen.

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

If more festivals offered the human touch this one did through its feedback videos, I figure a lot more filmmakers would have a lot more rocket fuel in their tanks. I’d honestly love to be able to contact some of the people who expressed such kind words and tell them how much it meant to me.

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

FilmFreeway has been great! I’m not sure I’d know what I was doing without it in terms of submissions. Pretty much every filmmaker I know finds their films a place through FilmFreeway.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Can’t beat a good pizza in my books. Although my mum makes the best butternut risotto in the universe.

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

I’ve got a new short hopefully shooting in a few weeks. And I’ve promised myself 2022 will be the year for a certain feature script of mine. No rest for the wicked!

By matthewtoffolo

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

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