Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson
UK Film Review recently caught up with indie filmmaker David Campion about his film Woodfalls. During the interview we talk about his movie, directorial ownership, and voter's rights for dolphins...
Your film, Woodfalls, is a dramatic piece about a clash of cultures. Is that how you would describe it for audiences?
Yeah, is that a bad description? It doesn’t scream ‘WATCH THIS’, does it? For ages I was describing it as an exploitation film - it definitely has elements of genre, but it’s not quite full on exploitation. I just don’t want to give people the impression that it’s a preachy film, ‘cause this poppa don’t preach.
(we offer a respectful silence)
Yeah, it’s a dramatic piece about a clash of cultures. What was the genesis for the story? And did you have any personal attachment to the themes?
I have travellers in my family. I’ve been to caravan sites, traveller weddings, funerals. I was once tied up to a tree by a group of traveller kids. We were young, so it wasn’t serious, although they beat the shit out of me. I remember they kept asking, “Are you a traveller or Gorja?” (Gorja is a derogatory term for non traveller). I don’t know what my problem was, but I was too dumb to answer. I probably deserved that beating.
I guess I was quite embarrassed by this side of my family growing up, as the culture is definitely looked down upon. As you get older, you become more confident with your identity, so I thought I should use these experiences.
When you write and direct a film, there must be a large sense of ownership. Do you feel this hinders or enhances the final outcome?
Directorial ownership is a never-ending debate. Basically, to write/direct a film you need an ego. We all have egos. My ego is disgusting. I spend months writing precious words, constructing a story that I feel people need to see. However, when it comes to the filmmaking process, it would be stupid to let my ego interfere with other people’s work. I trust my cameraman/DOP, my make-up artist, my actors - these people bring their own skill set to the project.
At the end of the day, I probably feel closer to the film than anybody else. I guess as a writer/director, I am considered the author, but I hope everybody who put something in still feels a relationship to the film. I mean, I love Woodfalls, but I wouldn’t want to hog it.
Since the film's release, audiences can now watch it on Amazon Prime. Can you tell us a bit about the process? Any successes or struggles?
Film is a constant struggle. The journey between writing the script and screening Woodfalls was close to 4 years. We premiered at BUFF (British Urban Film Festival) in Whitechapel, I attended a screening at the College Town Film Festival in Pennsylvania - both high points. Screening the film in general is an absolute pleasure and a reminder that I’m following my dreams. I’ve seen numerous walkouts, endured negative feedback both in written reviews and general opinions, but this is all part of the success. I’ll never get down about that sort of stuff - I’m just pleased to have a a film out there.
Self Destruct Films contacted me months ago and released Woodfalls on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play…it’s even on Amazon Japan! Realistically, I’m not sure how a film of this size, with very limited publicity is going to fare on VOD, but I’m going along with it.
My first film, Patrol Men (made with Ben Simpson) was released on DVD. Like, I walked into HMV and it had it’s own shelf. For £1,500, that felt great. It even got a review in Empire as part of Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon. The excitement soon wore off however, as I knew the film was fairly shite.
What is the most difficult aspect of making a film in 2017?
Standing out. There are thousands of filmmakers in this country alone, all with the same dreams, the same passion, drive and access to similar equipment. The process has become somewhat democratised, so how do I make my films stand out? Seriously, how do I?!
I ask that question constantly throughout writing and production. Money is also a real pain the ass - why don’t I ever have any?
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Woodfalls above.
Which actor or director, living or dead, would you most like to work with and why?
Ideally, I’d be able to sit on Scorsese’s shoulders from pre production right through to picture lock. Watch him storyboard, devise sequences, work with his actors, with Thelma. I’d like to hang out at home with him as well - I really just want him to educate me.
I’d have also liked to work with Wes Craven. He was the first director I fell in love and I’ve heard only lovely things from those who met him. You know he was really into birdwatching towards the end of his life? He’d post pictures on Instagram. It makes me chuckle to think of the director of Last House on the Left finding joy from birdwatching. What's next for you?
I’m in post production on She Lived On Franklin Avenue (co directed with Ben Simpson). It’s a horror film about a female serial killer. It’s dark as hell and pretty gnarly. We should have that ready for the end of year. What would you say if you were a dolphin? I’d ask for the right to vote.
Read our review of Woodfalls here.