Interview with Filmmaker Anabal Barnston (CONTRABAND)

CONTRABAND, 13min., UK, Drama
Directed by Anabal Barnston
Flailing millennial, Ruby, endeavours to get her life together after an overdue gap year, but is hindered by a pesky, over-complicated abortion.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The story is loosely based on personal experience, but it wasn’t so much about ‘telling my story’ but more about addressing a dearth of this sort of story with this point of view, that motivated me to make it. What really struck me was how pro-choice abortion stories, whilst few and far between, often sat into one of two camps; 1) ‘the difficult decision to make’ and 2) a super easy experience. There didn’t seem to me to be much conversation around the physical experience and what happens after the procedure, both physically and mentally. It was this and the desire to highlight the, sometimes, ridiculousness and absurdity of the vernacular and events around abortion that motivated me to make this specific film.

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

From start to finish it all took about 8 months. I wrote the project over a couple of months with the help of some great script editors and the film’s brilliant Producer, Phoebe Campbell-Harris. The shoot was a fun but stressful packed 4 days and post production took a good few months to allow for editing, sound mixing, soundtrack choice and the grade.

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

Messy women

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

The hardest part was probably completing the shoot with such a tight budget. Though, predominantly a two hander, the film has multiple locations with a good few supporting roles. We could only afford 4 days max to shoot it so every scene had a time cap on it during the shoot. We shot the final scene, with all the wine going everywhere in about half an hour, when we were into hour 12 of shoot day 2, knowing we’d have a mammoth clean up task straight afterwards. It was hectic but I’m SO pleased with the result.

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

I teared up a bit! Honestly, it’s so amazing to see such heartfelt responses to something you’ve created. It’s also really interesting to see what different aspects people take away from the film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I used to do a fair bit of acting when I was younger and I’d look at the Directors on set and think ‘I’d love to do that but there’s no way I could’. I then hit a point a couple of years back where suddenly, I’d grown up a bit, gained more confidence in myself and thought ‘actually, why the hell not!’.

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

I hate rewatching films because there are so many out there to see but I must have watched Mary Poppins (the original) hundreds of times when I was younger and I still love it. I also will happily rewatch F.R.I.E.N.D.S from series 1 to end over and over again.

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

Feedback from audience members is so so helpful so thank you FFFF for providing that. Networking events and other socials are also really fun and helpful. The possibility of meeting other industry professionals who’ve also seen your project is a really useful tool for career progression, especially those looking to represent or work with emerging talent.

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

I’m very familiar with it and feel it’s a very easy platform to follow.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Indian thali. I love that you get lots of little different dishes to taste with lots of different flavours.

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

I’m in post production on another short – a comedy horror which was a bit outside of my comfort zone but super fun to shoot. I’ve got another few shorts in development as well as a pilot for a TV series so I’m keeping myself busy.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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