LISP Film Festival 2023 Finalist, A Gentle Push by Arabella Burfitt-Dons
'A Gentle Push' will be screened at the LISP Film Festival and Arabella will be there to answer your questions! Tickets are limited. Click to get one! Or Copy-Paste below link
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I’m a London-based film director and founder of production company W4 Films. I spend my time developing and completing feature films and short film projects as well as working on commercials and branded content.
- When and how did you get into filmmaking?
I've been producing films for the past seven years since I founded my production company W4 Films and eventually moved into directing a couple of years ago and I'm loving every minute of it. I recently completed my debut feature as a director of 'Grey Matter' starring Stephanie Beacham and other incredible British names, which won Best Foreign Debut at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto. It's continued its festival circuit and is being released in cinemas across the UK next month. I'm in post production on a music drama 'Finding My Voice' where I've worked with oscar-nominated music producer Nick Southwood to shape the music and film from the beginning. That has been a really enjoyable new filmmaking challenge, adding music to the storytelling process. My next feature is an American action-comedy called 'Too Far Gone', which I'm really excited about.
- How often do you write/create? Do you have a working routine? And what inspires you to create?
I work every day without fail, it's impossible for me to take a whole day without working in some way because I never creatively switch off. As a director you have to do everything you can to keep driving projects forward as well as driving them to completion, there's definitely always more and more you can do, which makes setting a routine difficult because sometimes it's hard to know when you've done enough. But sticking to normal working hours I find helps to give me a good healthy balance. I definitely find going to new places, environments and meeting new people inspires me and I'm always jotting notes down on my phone. It's quite cliche but I love nothing more than working from a coffee shop and people watching, it definitely helps to stimulate the creative juices!
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It's always nice to have some recognition because of course there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in creative work and that can often lead to a lot of self-doubt and questioning yourself. Some of the most rewarding moments I've experienced recently are from screenings of my feature Grey Matter - having audience members come up to me after the film, contributing in Q+As, receiving messages and emails from people about how the film touched them and sharing their personal experiences. It makes the whole very difficult filmmaking journey feel worthwhile and it makes me feel 'complete' in some way. And of course having a project recognised through publishing, selection or awards is amazing.
- What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Filmmaking?
The most challenging thing about filmmaking and directing is every day there's always a problem to solve and a hurdle to overcome that seems impossible. It's a marathon, not a sprint and that can often make you question if you can carry on. As a professional, the instability of work is also very difficult to navigate as you have no job security but you just have to believe in yourself and keep going and trust that if you don't give up, solutions do appear and everything does have a way of working out.
The best thing about directing is honestly an impossible question to answer as there are so many things I could say. Working closely with a team who gets behind your vision is an amazing feeling, as is working with actors when they believe and care about the story and characters as much as you do. Pulling together every creative aspect into the end product is an amazing feeling, when you see a specific prop you picked out and the painted walls of the location tie in with the character's wardrobe and feeling the emotion when the score comes in at the exact time you pictured it... it's all like a live work of art that you are constantly crafting and shaping and just like a massive magical puzzle, each piece comes together and eventually turns out to be a beautiful but also different picture to what it started out as being in your mind. Seeing the reaction from audiences is wonderful, and also feeling like you never work a day in your life because you love what you do is something I feel grateful for every day. I could go on and on but really it's all about the love of the incredibly complex and beautiful art form that is film.
- How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected film? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?
The talented and lovely writer Eoin Ryan came to me with his script, and we worked on it from there. I loved his tone of voice, we definitely shared the same sense of humour so the collaboration was effortless. We had to shoot his Dublin-set script in London which posed a few challenges production wise but it all felt quite seamless as we were on similar pages the whole way through. Eoin helped me with choosing the casting and I'm very pleased with our decisions on that as all the cast were wonderful to work with, even in the incredible heatwave we were shooting in at the time!
- Can you please give us a few tips about Filmmaking?
My tips on filmmaking would be if you have a project you want to make you have to keep driving it forward whatever happens, don't ever sit back and wait for things to happen - keep sending it to people, amending it, improving it, speaking to people. If you really believe in it, do as much as you can yourself.
For screenwriting, if you have written a screenplay and are circulating festivals looking for your screenplay to be produced, be sure to get a professional script report/coverage done for your script. Often people don't do this when it is the most useful thing you can do. If you get less than a 'Recommend' score on the report then keep working on the script until you get it to that quality. You can then use this report score as something to send to producers or directors with your script.
- Lastly, do you recommend the filmmakers submit to LISP?