Interview with director Claudia Priddy

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

I began studying comparisons between novels and their film adaptations in the final year of my English Literature degree. I found it fascinating to break down the choices made to bring a piece of writing to life in this way. Since then I’ve been learning by working in the industry. This is my first short film as a Creator, so it was incredible to take a moment on set to realize that this is definitely what I want to do. I’m at the start of my journey and I know that I want to spend my life telling stories that make cases for human rights.  

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

Everything I know about story I learned studying English Literature, and everything I know about film I either learned on the job or through seminars and online courses. I’ve worked with a number of successful people in the industry that didn’t go to film school, so I definitely don’t think it’s necessary.

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

I think it’s more difficult to get started. You need to be ready to commit your time to a film, and you need an idea that propels you forward. I personally decided to put my job on hold so I could fully immerse myself in this project. From there you just need to keep working! It’s that momentum that powers the film.  

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

I’d say the most important lesson I learned was that you don’t have time on the shoot to make everything perfect. If a shot isn’t working exactly as you planned, you have to weigh up its importance because a change will lose you time on your other shots. This definitely helped us to get everything done each day, and it was incredible to find new magic in the edit. We changed a scene around from how it had been written and in the end it elevated the story.   

  • 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?

Making a film in 2020 meant the production realities were mostly about working in a Covid-19 era. We weren’t able to do in person auditions, so we looked at showreels and asked for self-tapes which worked out really well. The post-production process (Edit, VFX, Colour Grade, Original Music, Sound Design) had to be done remotely. Communication had to be crisp. It took a lot more organisation, but you push through and make it work.

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

I would say the hardest artistic choices made were in adapting the film to the locations. When you write a script you have a clear image of it in your mind but on a low budget you have to compromise. We couldn’t make any significant alterations to the location, so I rewrote some of the scenes to accommodate the shooting spaces. The Art Department were really helpful in revising the sets and in utilizing flats and dressing to achieve our vision.  

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

Growing the crew was mostly bringing together people with similar passions from previous film projects that I’ve worked on. It was such a joy to bring this story to life together. If you start early, it can be an enjoyable process of discussion and collaboration instead of a stressful one. You have to work hard and show the crew that their ideas are safe in your hands.

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

I think if there’s something that you care about then there will be an audience for it. In terms of writing a short screenplay it’s important to be realistic about what’s available to you in terms of locations, budget and set design. Write a story that you can make and follow your gut with the subject matter.   

  • 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’ve attended film festivals as an audience member and made use of the seminars that run alongside them. They are always a useful insight into what other people are making, and they never fail to inspire me. I Am Your Sister is my first project as a Creator, and SHORT to the Point is both my first film festival selection and my first film award so it’s very special to me.

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

It’s important to know the classic techniques so you can put your own spin on them. I personally love to see original shots and methods of shooting. I think if you start with references of work you like – whether it be photographs, films, novels etc – then you can jump off from that and create your own style.