Interview with director Kieran Stringfellow

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

Quite late on actually. I had always loved cinema since a very young age, however growing up I never really knew I could be a filmmaker; it was never something I thought I could ever do. It wasn’t until I was 17 and dropped out of a sports science course that filmmaking became apparent. I took a chance on a multi-media course, the first assignment was to make a video tour of the college’s building and It just clicked really, I knew instantly that this was what I wanted to do.

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

Not necessarily. You can 100% learn the ins and outs of filmmaking by teaching yourself and making stuff. But what film school can give you is a greater understanding of cinema as a language. At film school I was introduced to and immersed in cinema from all corners of the globe, presented in so many forms. For me that was invaluable, as everything I consumed has helped shape my own work.

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

Keep going 100%. Starting is fun, you’re full of hope, confidence and if you’re like me a lot of naivety. But maintaining that same spirit throughout the many setbacks and rejections you face can be incredibly difficult. The way I overcome this is honestly just through patience, perseverance and having faith in what I’m trying to create and achieve.

  • 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’m learning all the time really, and still trying to nail down what it is I want to say as a filmmaker. That will come through time though I hope.

  • 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?

Well this particular film (Mummeh) was made in three weeks. We had a deadline to hit for a particular film challenge we wanted to submit to, so this provided us with its own challenges in terms of trying to get everything ready in time. This was also my first time directing a child actor, and if I’m being honest I probably under-estimated how difficult this can be. But I was able to quickly adapt and change my approach to get the performance I wanted.

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

With Mummeh we had to keep the film at a strict 90 seconds in order to be able to submit it to a certain film competition. This meant having to be ruthless in the edit to make sure it hit that time frame. It’s so easy to get precious over your footage, so I like this way of working as it forces you to make a tighter, slicker film.

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

This is one area that I have found difficult since leaving film school. At film school I was surrounded by like-minded creatives and we could all easily crew up and make films. Since leaving, everyone naturally moves to different areas for work and what not, so you do lose that creative community a bit. But you’ve just got go out and find people through whatever means possible, working on other shorts, networking, social media etc. There are so many platforms to discover talented people its just a matter of putting yourself out there and maintaining those relationships once you’ve formed them.

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

For me personally no. I make films that I like, and I trust in my film taste that other people out there will like it too.

  • 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 love film festivals, but admittedly I don’t go to enough, I promise to change that though. I love the smaller ones where you might find a screening in an old church, community center or a pub. That’s what filmmaking is to me, making stuff and sharing it with people no matter what or where it is.  

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

Personally, I admire when a filmmaker really and fully embraces their vision no matter how it may be received. You can always tell when they do, and regardless of whether they pull it off or not I’m always taken aback by their confidence. And more often than not they do pull it off.