Interview with director Abbie Lucas


Abbie Lucas is a film director based in London, originally from New Zealand. In 2018, Levile TV listed her as one of the Top 20 Rising Female Filmmakers in the UK. She is a member of Directors UK and BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew 2021. In 2022 she was invited to participate in the Reykjavik International Film Festival Talent Lab. As a storyteller, she enjoys stories with flawed relationships, female protagonists, vigilantes, crime, and a bit of magical realism but most of all loves work with strong performances and impactful story lines. She is known for exploring dark themes in ways that are humorous and unexpected.

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I had decided at quite a young age (13) that I wanted to become a Film Director. I can’t remember the particular moment that I decided filmmaking was the medium but I have told stories in many different ways: theatre, photography, prose and film is the one that makes sense. 

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

No, and I say that as someone who went to a film school.  It was a wonderful experience, I learnt a lot and it was great to be doing and learning about what you love every day but you could learn just as much getting a job as a runner on a film set and at that same time trying to make your own films with whatever equipment you have at your disposal. Also, one of the limiting things about film schools is that people go in thinking “Oh I’m going to be a director or a writer” but on a film set you learn that there are so many other wonderful roles that you can get experience in that may be more suited to your skill set.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Both are difficult for different reasons! Getting started you have to conquer your fear of not knowing things and just do it. The great thing is when you haven’t done it before you will be propelled by hope and excitement. To keep going, especially if you have experienced knockbacks, you have to work harder to generate that excitement for yourself and not become jaded, but at least you will have the knowledge of how to make a film. The trick to keep going I suppose is to do it for love because everything else: money, acclaim, festivals is unpredictable. Make the film for yourself and hopefully others will recognise that authenticity.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

This is a lesson that has had a positive effect on all my films, being a director is about being a leader not being in control. Surround yourself with talented people, take onboard their ideas and then reap the benefits. Many of my favourite moments in my films are not things that I came up with.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

As with a lot of short films we were constrained by budget and with Voices we were also shooting during a post-COVID boom in production so there were generally less crew available. Great for the UK industry I suppose but less great for us! We did what we could with what we had available and took on roles outside of our main credit. One thing we didn’t compromise on was location, this was very important to the feeling of the film and we searched long and hard to find the right one.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

We make tough choices constantly but I can’t think of one from any of my films that I would watch it back and think “Oh if only we had had xyz.” Sometimes challenges come up – for instance in a film I made called The Hankerbox,  the story was supposed to be set in an office reception. The location we had for this fell through a week before the shoot date and amongst a few days of sheer panic I was editing a film for a corporate client that featured an underground carpark and I thought “what if it was set in an underground carpark?@ fortunately we were in a position to ask that client if we could use theirs and they said yes. The location gives the film a kind of surreal quality it wouldn’t have had if we stuck with the original location.  

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

I’ve discovered collaborators in all sorts of ways: advertisments, word of mouth, festivals, social media. I generally just turn them into friends and hang out with them!

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Depending on the film: connection, catharsis, entertainment, amusement, inspiration, maybe a good cry? It’s the filmmakers role to tell the story they want to tell and try to get it out there, the right audience will find it. As far as predicting genres and trends thats for studios and marketing people to worry about.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

I think film festivals are necessary because they are a way to showcase your work, get it seen on a big screen and meet other filmmakers and film lovers. There aren’t many opportunities for short films to get screened that don’t involve them getting lost amongst all the content online. Film Festivals have helped me find collaborators, travel the world and gain some positive attention in the industry. They have also introduced me to a lot of inspiring films and voices I might not have otherwise seen.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I don’t think a filmmaker should be safe, but their own take on a classic style should come out original and fresh because it’s theirs.