Your new movie Rueful
Warrior - in a few words, what is it about?
soldier Yalalia has come to Earth to find water for her home planet in
desperate need of it. Soldiers on Earth lock horns and wonít budge in a
negotiation and her request for peace. The film is about the stupidity of
conflict and war. Bad communication and naivety can lead to trigger-happy
orders that result in disaster.
To what extent could you actually identify with the moral dilemma
Yalalia is in in your movie?
if you eliminate Yalaliaís mission as a soldier, the simple fact remains
that she is a person forced against her will. She doesnít want to be
there and is at gunpoint from both the soldiers on Earth and on her home
planet. I wanted to play with the fact that you have someone who, as a
soldier, is obliged to follow command, but tangles with being a pacifist
and seeing the bigger picture ahead of everyone else. Having said that,
she is a reluctant fighter, but a fighter nonetheless. She doesnít take
any crap and will defend herself out of duty and pride, but every fight or
kill adds an emotional blow. Itís never a place anyone would want to be,
certainly mentally. Regardless of being from another planet, I canít
imagine anyone not sympathising with her plight.
What were your sources of
inspiration when writing Rueful
actually created a much bigger concept as a feature film and there was a
huge ground battle involving Yalalia and several others on her side. In
that film, Yalalia gets separated from the group and is never seen again.
I decided it would be interesting to show a side-story to show what
happens to her. So the film literally begins with that same battle as a
background noise as she emerges from the smoke. Focussing on one lone mind
amidst a sea of hatred and intimidation was intriguing prospect to bring
Warrior being a science fiction movie, is that a genre at all dear
and foremost, as a filmmaker, I grew up with a full array of genres, so I
was consequentially surrounded by science fiction films of course, but I
wouldnít say I am particularly partial to science fiction. Having said
that, it does lend itself well to creating an entire scope of concepts and
bending the rules to tell more exciting stories and allowing the audience
to perhaps escape the real world for a few hours and explore the wonders
of another or follow a new set of rules and enjoy them.
Warrior is a very action-heavy short - so do talk about the
stuntwork in your movie for a bit!
fight choreographer, Joe Golby, had worked with Oliver Park, who played
Shade, before, so they knew how each other worked. Michelle Fahrenheim had basic
stage combat training, but aside from that had no previous stunt or fight
experience. We had 4 days before shooting to rehearse all the many fights.
Michelle was in every day as itís her character versus everyone else!
You could easily use stunt doubles in films like this, but the film is
100% Michelle. Joe and I were immensely proud of her efforts and hope
everyone agrees that she pulls it off very well. As for the other
soldiers, we had Jordan Dumaurier, who is actually an ex-soldier and we hurled him
over the edge of a balcony, which was fun! Georgia Annable previously had some
fight experience and Simon Pengelly and James Ballanger both play rugby and are giants, so I
wanted to ensure most of their work represented a lot of their brute
force. Christina Forrest is a very skilled fighter and she went to East 15 to learn fight training
there. Claire Cartwright had held a gun in a Shakespeare play but that was it!
Overall, we had a real mix; some stunts were underwater, where safety
divers were at hand, some stunts involved falling, grappling or flying
through the air! Michelle is feisty in her determination - which served
the process, as well as her character, very well. The stunts were also
emotionally charged. You can see each characterís emotional journey,
every pause, expression, punch or kick has a range of emotions behind
What can you tell us
about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?
only risk I was self-conscious of was combining having fun making an 80s
style action film with the important moral message served throughout it. I
fought that battle in my head several times, thinking it would be OK but
you never really know for sure when youíre in your own bubble. I ended
up skyping director, Mark Travis in the US and expressed my dilemma to
him. Can I get away with making a film like this, having fun in a serious
story? His response was ďHave you seen Deadpool?Ē Ė thatís all I
needed to know and was confident I could make it work! Yalalia is a
character so desperate to stop fighting that youíre with her at every
stage of her journey. I love telling small moments of poignancy with
characters and, as a director, Iíll always be looking for little
opportunities, sometimes only a few seconds in length, to get a flash of
what the character is actually thinking. Towards the end of the film, we
see this clearly with Yalalia and Shade together.
talk about your cast, and why exactly these people?
had worked with Michelle Fahrenheim and Oliver Park in my previous film,
and it was during the filming of that project that I mentioned Rueful
Warrior. Michelle expressed an interest to play the lead. Initially, I
was reluctant as I didnít particularly see her in the role. Then I
started to visualise her as the character so I thought that Michelleís
sheer persistence and grittiness would match that of Yalaliaís and that
of a reluctant fighter. Oliver was cool and calculated in my previous
film, Fade, so it felt natural to play him as the main villain.
Around that, I wanted a mix of soldiers with different personalities and
fighting styles. Christina Forrest who plays Lethalis came on board very
late in the day, just a few days before fight training before the shoot.
Claire Cartwright as Wise originally applied to play Yalalia, but sadly I
could only choose one. It went to Michelle, but I was so impressed by
Claireís application and desire to be in the film, I thought Iíd give
her the top dog female villain who can equally pack a punch.
also have to talk about your location, and what was it like filming there?
a question that gets asked a lot! The main location was Kempton Steam
Museum in West London. Almost everything you see in the film is the real
set. The only things that werenít real were the propeller which we added,
and the underwater scene was shot at a separate location, then mapped
together with VFX in the edit. But the location was almost its own
character. I heard the cast mentioning how much it helped them settle and
absorb the scene, especially Michelle. It felt part of that world and
despite paying a fortune to secure it, it was definitely worth it, as the
film simply wouldnít have worked without it.
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was split into five days at the steam house and one day in the
underwater studio in Basildon. Despite years of prep, our storyboards went
out the window on day 1 as the location required so many positional
adjustments, not just for cast but also equipment. With this in mind, it
was all rather rushed, but still carefully calculated. Despite this, Iíd
like to think the on-set atmosphere was still one of camaraderie and
togetherness. The actors seemed to be having a great time and I had an
amazing crew putting heart and soul into everything, so you could see this
in the happiness and dedication on peopleís faces.
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
itís only at film festivals for their exclusive privilege, but after
that, weíre looking at marketing it online and hammering home this is a
movie you should see!
can you tell us about audience and critical reception of Rueful
what Iíve seen so far on the filmís critical reaction, itís been
well received and, though some points I think have been missed, most
reporters have picked up on the details and aims I was striving for. We
were never looking to necessarily make a ground-breaking piece of cinema
Ė the moral message in the film was always going to be more important
and the main focus. Iím glad itís making waves for that reason above
all else and hopefully it will continue to maintain a positive following
after the festival circuit is over.
Any future projects you'd like to
Warriorís journey is nearing an end, Iím already looking
to shoot a short drama next month about the fragility of life. Iím also
writing a comedy superhero webseries with Emmalie El Fadli, Rueful
editor. Then Iíll be looking to crack on with my first feature film
which will be a domestic drama/sci-fi!
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
had just seen so many movies growing up, I always had a passion for films.
It was the only thing that made me happy, so I always had a connection. It
wasnít till 2004 that I had a delayed lightbulb moment of deciding to go
to film school. In April that year I enrolled at the Met Film School, now
located at Ealing Studios. But I was a guinea pig in its inaugural year
when it was located in a shack in Clapham Common! I learned the very basics
of technique, story, script and editing. Emailing actors and their agents
was also a key moment in turning my very shy self, as I was back then,
into a person of extreme confidence. I started off with two awful films,
but learned the ropes and, from the moment of graduation in early 2005,
have taught myself everything Iíve learned today. I continue to learn and
the key is to keep learning and absorbing as much as you can. The clichť
is true Ė experience, especially on a film set, is everything! There
really is no substitute.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Rueful
to this film, I have made a few shorts that also did well on the festival
circuit. FadeĒwas my most recent before Rueful
Warrior. It was
a short about life and how quickly it can change between two people in a
relationship. I also made one about a woman trying to
recover from sexual assault. I always try to keep the genres mixed and do
the exact opposite to my last film in my next one.
How would you describe yourself as a
would describe myself as fully invested in every project. If itís not a
project I believe in or I canít do it justice with production value and
talent, then it wonít happen. On set, Iím probably a mixed bag of
quiet and loud but normally love working things out with actors and
enforcing my vision.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
grew up with Spielbergís work. I remember I kept seeing his name in the Back to the Future credits and it always seemed to be a name that
just appeared in every movie I watched as a kid. Other directors like Wes
Anderson, Ron Howard, Peter Weir, Ridley Scott,
Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton are among my biggest influencers.
of the Lost Ark is the reason I became a filmmaker. Youíll see fun
Indiana Jones nods in this film, but the 80s had the best action movies.
Anything by Spielberg I found mesmerising, whether it was trucks back in Duel in the earliest part of his career, or dinosaurs in
Park. I also love world cinema and one-off gems like Grand Budapest
Hotel or Withnail and I or Run Lola Run.
... and of course, films you really
a film entertains me, even if itís crap, Iíll still watch it, but
Iím totally put off by this generation of remakes, reboots and revamps
Ė all rather embarrassing and desperate. Indie film still has far more
definition, scope and originality than most big bucks franchises at the
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
is where you can see everything in my crazy brain. Rueful
getting its own website as we speak, but you can see the Facebook page
here and more behind the scenes pics:
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
still entertaining plans for a feature film version that I know would be
slightly different but ridiculously awesome. So, if anyone fancies getting
in touch with funding and ideas, Iím all ears!
Thanks for the interview!
you for having me!