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Interview with Alan King

UK Film Review recently reviewed short film, A Way Back which we described as "poetic and suspenseful". Filmmaker Alan King took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about films, directors, and how God made Daniel Day Lewis...

1) Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Alan King, I’m 46 years old and I live in Australia with my wife and ten year old daughter. I have worked as a professional actor for over twenty-five years and I also love to paint. I finished a full time art degree in 2007. After art school I found myself gravitating towards filmmaking. Aside from loving movies, I found it to be the perfect platform to amalgamate both my performance and visual art skills. To date I have made four short films.

2) Tell us a little bit about your short film, A Way Back

Well, fully completed only a few weeks ago, it is a 15-minute black and white short film that I wrote, directed, produced and acted in. The film is set both in the 1940s and 1950s and it explores the primary theme of regret and a man’s struggle to come to terms with the finality of his actions.

3) A Way Back has a lot of deep themes. Why did you decide to write this film?

The subject matter for the film originated from of a lifelong study of the Nazi’s treatment of Jews during World War Two. I have self - educated by viewing countless hours of documentaries and reading many books on the subject. I, like many others, have always struggled to comprehend why this ever happened. One thing I have searched for in trying to come to terms with this horrible period of history is some or any gesture of remorse from those who were involved and to be honest it’s very rare to find any real depictions or portrayals of regretful German soldiers, who had contributed to the horrific Nazi war machine. Now I can’t say that there were or there weren’t large numbers of regretful German soldiers following the war, but I can say that I hope there were. So this film is a fantasy, a hope of mine to reflect a truly remorseful human that has emerged from an event where we have been continuously only ever been presented with monsters.

4) How was the filmmaking process on A Way Back? Did you need to overcome any limitations?

Yes, no budget whatsoever! But as cliché as it sounds I am a true believer that through adversity sprouts creativity. Ironically, the elements I am most pleased with on this film wouldn’t be there if I had a decent budget. I was forced to think outside the square through necessity rather than choice. The film was all shot on a Go Pro and an IPhone 6. I did all the postproduction on my laptop using Final Cut X. All up the film cost about $200 which went towards some costume hire and a memory card for the camera.

5) What advice would you give to new filmmakers and writers?

To keep creating; the only way you can improve your craft is to keep making work. But to do that you need to make it sustainable until you hopefully get to the point where you get paid to do it one day. I know a lot of filmmakers who have made one short film, racked up their credit card to the tune of thousands to do so and then spent the next 5 years working to pay it off without ever making another film. Modern day filmmaking really is on so many levels “Information Technology”. I would recommend learning as many “IT” skills that you can, especially post – production: editing, sound design, titles, colour grading, delivery of digital files, artwork design etc. This not only allows you to become more intimate with these aspects of the project but also means not having to rely on paying others or constantly calling in favours (which even if you are well liked, will only take you so far). We are very fortunate that we live in an age were we can do so many of these things on a home computer, all we need to do is educate ourselves on how to do it. As mentioned earlier having no budget does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.

6) Do you have any strong influences or role models in the film world?

I really do love all genres of film done well and respect and enjoy the work of all the great directors: Scorsese, Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola and Ingmar Bergman to name a few but the one for me who stands out is Kubrick. He really did break the rules with the way he went about everything: visuals, story, structure, soundtrack, performances, the lot, but above the fact he was so avant guard is that after I watch his films they resonate with me for a long time. I feel this is because when watching his work, my subconscious is being engaged, as much as my conscious and for me this ability to get through to a deeper part of my mind is quite unique. The closest I have experienced this feeling with another director would be Paul Thomas Anderson with There Will Be Blood (2007) and The Master (2012).

7) Which actor would you most like to work with?

Well it would have to be Daniel Day Lewis. It was like one day God decided I’m going to pool all my resources and create the ultimate actor, and then put D - Day Lewis amongst us. Sometimes he’s so good, when I look at his work I think “Oh he’s just taking the piss now!” Maybe if I worked with him he wouldn’t mind giving me a couple of tips!

8) If you were a dolphin, what would you say?

“I can help you with that Rubik’s Cube, if you like”.


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