Day Moibi sat down with Ryd Cook, Bridget Bradshaw and Carl Peck from Project Trident to discuss their latest short film “A Single to London”.
Day Moibi: So is your charecter in a SINGLE TO LONDON based on you?
Ryd Cook: Yeah, to me. So it’s completely honest. And in fact, in the final film there’s only one thing that didn’t actually happen in real life. So basically the inspiration came from… it happened to me. I can’t remember when it actually happened. It was obviously on a train to London, I was writing one time – I meet up every Wednesday with Carl and Nick and other freelance people, and I sit down and I write stuff – and the idea came into my head and I thought that it would be quite good for a short film, I thought it had good elements to it. And I remember thinking it was a bit too similar to Peep Show, because the idea was you could hear the main character’s thoughts. But I mentioned it to Nick and Carl and asked if they thought I should write it and they were like “yeah, just do it!” So that’s where the inspiration came from, then I did like two drafts and that was the writing. I think that was probably November 2015, and I remember I just wanted to shoot it as soon as possible. I was dying to shoot something because it had been a while since I shot something of my own. I had shot any of my own fiction during 2015, so it wasn’t since 2014 that I’d shot something, so I was just dying to shoot stuff. I wanted to shoot in December, then I wanted to shoot in January, but we ended up shooting… It was the last day of February wasn’t it?
Bridget Bradshaw: February, yeah.
RC: The shoot was fantastic, because we decided to shoot on a phone. Again I remember sitting down with Carl. It was a writing day and we were in pre-production with Single to London. I knew I wanted to shoot it, but I was saying “that’s too hard! How are we gonna shoot on a train? It’s ridiculous.” And then I think we’d either seen Tangerine or…?
Carl Peck: And we were like “Ah, that’s cool, that looks fine.” And if you’re shooting on a phone, on a train, you’re not gonna get in trouble. You’re not really allowed to film on trains, but with a phone, nobody’s gonna know. People do that don’t they – just take pictures and stuff.
RC: Yeah, it’s totally legal to sit on a train and film stuff. So that’s essentially what we were doing. So yeah, me and Carl – after seeing Tangerine – were like, “Let’s just shoot it on a phone. Why not?” It made total sense for so many reasons. Because a) it makes it easier, you don’t hassle anybody on the train, b) it’s legal, we don’t have to get permissions…
DM: Yeah I was wondering if there were any disruptions or problems with filming on a train?
RC: Do you want that, Bridget? We should mention, Bridget’s job is first assistant director, which basically is like the boss of shooting a film.
BB: My job is making the stuff happen. There were two things that I mainly did: One was checking out what trains were running and what they looked like, and measuring up the trains. When we sent Daisy off on a train before, she had to step out and take three large paces to the left, and then not move at all until the next train came up, so that she’d be positioned perfectly for the single shot that we could get of our train arriving and her appearing in the window in that striking red coat. And it worked!
RC: Yeah. That shot was all one take, where I see Daisy out the window and she walks in, we had to get that, it was our only chance really of getting that shot. So Daisy had to know where to be, and where we would be.
DM: Do you usually use yourself as a character in your films? You said that this was based on you, is this the first time?
RC: No, it’s not the first time. It’s definitely the most personal film I’ve ever made.
CP: Yeah it’s the first time you’ve told your own internal story, I suppose.
RC: Yeah, absolutely. With Buccanearly, that was a film based on a true story that happened to me and my family. The difference was, that wasn’t me in it, and also the story was adapted a lot more. This story was straight up as it happened, and all of my thoughts in the film were exactly as I thought them. Obviously the process was longer and it was cut down – there were things that I thought of that aren’t in the film. The only thing that’s different is, towards the end of the film – which was Bridget’s fantastic idea – is a bit of sound where the announcer says that we’ve almost arrived, and that interrupts me from going to ask her. In real life I just didn’t have the courage. It got too late and I was almost at the station and I couldn’t do it, I felt like it was too late. That’s the only difference between this and real life. And the only difference between the script and the final film. So yeah, it’s super personal. The question you asked – I do always write about stuff and direct films that I can relate to, but this one is the most directly personal one to date, definitely.
DM: And Project Trident? What’s your future plans? What are you working on?
CP: I don’t know what to say really. We’re sort of in a bit of a weird patch, because we haven’t seen each other for a while, but we’re gonna meet up in a few weeks and discuss our future. We’re all working on things separately, like Simon Panrucker for instance is off making music for cartoons, so he’s really busy all the time. Everyone’s doing little separate threads of stuff.
RC: We’re all still in touch, we all work together on things. In regards to the future and things in development, I’m writing a feature film. I’ve done the synopsis and I’ve just started the script actually, it’s my first ever feature film script. It’s a relationship drama, it does have elements of Single to London in it. I wouldn’t say it’s the feature film version of Single to London, but it definitely has similarities. I want to make that at some point. I’d like to get funding for it, but if not it’s definitely shooting on low budget. And then you’re also developing?
CP: Yeah. I’m still writing my feature film, which we did a Kickstarter for last March, which we weren’t successful at. Well, we were and we weren’t. We raised thirty-four thousand pounds, but we didn’t reach our target so we didn’t get any of that money. We rewrote it after that, and we had some interest from Pinewood Studios about it, which was really awesome, and then that didn’t quite work out either, so we’re rewriting it again. It’s still a thing that’s happening and I sort of refuse to give up on it. I feel like if I gave up now then I haven’t really tried, like I tried one thing and that didn’t work. I think people often think, “why is he still doing that? Why doesn’t he just leave that alone and do something new?” But I feel like I haven’t quite got it to where I could comfortably say I’ve tried, I need to keep going and just do it until I get to a point where I can say “I did what I could”. In reality, I don’t think I’ve really begun.
RC: I think it’s worth saying that, potentially a lot of people don’t realise that even with a short film, the development process can be so long. Single to London was a very fast example of coming up with something, going ahead and shooting it. But with Aviatrix, the idea was there in 2009, 2010 or 2011. But it wasn’t shot completely until 2015, and that’s a short film. So a feature, they can be in development for anything from 3 years upwards. So I think Carl’s right, it’s only really the beginning. And I also think the fact that we didn’t raise the funding, really was just part of the film’s path. I think the film is better now because of this path that it’s had.
CP: It’s also weird, because normally no one would know about your film until you’ve worked on it for years and then you’d make it and release it. Whereas we’ve done the opposite and told everyone about it and had this campaign to go with it, but it’s still got a way to go. It’s interesting.
RC: Yeah, exactly. Usually you don’t do the marketing until the film is done. But, for example, Duncan Jones who directed Moon, I remember him saying his next after Moon is going to be a Sci-Fi set in Berlin. His next film wasn’t that; it was Source Code. He’s only just shooting that Berlin film now – it’s called Mute – and we’re in 2016. He was talking about it in 2010, so that’s taken six years, probably more, because he’s had to develop it to the point where he can talk about it in 2010. So because it hasn’t been marketed, people don’t know about it. But yeah, the film’s in development and that’s a good thing, I would say.
CP: My producer told me as well, usually a film won’t be read until draft eleven, and I’m on draft eight. So that’s fun.
DM: Yeah, you’re working through it. Project Trident has done loads of great, short films, so if I could ask, you said it’s a process, but what is the hardest part of going from working on short films to a feature film? What’s the hardest part of that big step?
CP: That’s a tricky question. I want to say money, but no, not money. I think you have to have something that is a ‘goer’ and everyone is like “yes!” Money helps… It’s hard if you don’t have any money. The thing is now, we’re not the people we were when we were making films together at the Picturehouse. After work we’d go to the pub, come up with a crazy idea, and then maybe another night we’d film it and another night we’d watch it. We’re all older… Old dogs now I guess. Life gets more complicated, so for us all to come together to do it now, it has to be, like…
DM: So, your advice for young filmmakers who are looking at your work?
RC: I’m trying not to say something really cliché. Like, the standard cliché thing is go ahead and do it. That’s obvious though, I think.
CP: Yeah, you should do it.
BB: It was watching Project Trident things at the cinema that made me think I could make films. Not in a “they’re so rubbish anyone could do it” sort of way. But you don’t need to have a big Hollywood production, you don’t need to have masses of equipment, you don’t need to have a degree in filmmaking.
RC: You don’t need a lot of money either, that’s a huge thing that people can’t really get past.
BB: You just need an idea and some people and some technical knowhow, and you can make a film.
RC: I don’t think we were talking about it while recording, but Ruptured Screen, that Bridget is a part of, anyone can join and get involved, it doesn’t matter your experience in filmmaking. The other thing that is really important, is if you’re interested in filmmaking as a whole, great, do whatever you can. But the sooner you figure out which bit you enjoy the most, the better. The more you do just that one thing, the better you’ll get at it. I know now that I’m a writer/director. I do have other skills and abilities, but that is my favourite thing to do, so I focus a lot more of my time, especially on writing now. Three or four years ago I didn’t really know I was a writer, so it’s taken me a while. So I think the sooner you can specialise, the better. And it doesn’t matter if you begin to specialise in something and then realise it isn’t for you, and pick something else. Because the sooner you realise something isn’t for you, the sooner you can figure out what is. So I would say do whatever you can, get into the stuff you really enjoy and keep doing that one thing. It’s really easy to just do everything in filmmaking. Mixing it up is a good thing, but my advice would be to try and specialise.
DM: Have a direction.
CP: I think I would say, you’ve got to play. I did an after school film club with kids, and there’s a filmmaking organisation that provides stuff for you to do with the kids. I read it and it tells you all this stuff about how the industry works, but I don’t think you should think about that, you should just think about having fun and trying to make something. If you start out trying to be really serious, you’d just give up because it’s really boring. Just do something fun, that you can achieve, and you’ll develop. Finish it as well, even if its rubbish, because then you’ll have done the whole experience and you can move on to something else.
RC: That’s a really good point. There’s so many rules and so much to learn about filmmaking, and it’s so easy to think that you know a lot about making films, and then going into your first film thinking you know everything about it, and it turning out badly. Whereas if you go in being honest with the people around you…
CP: You learn from your mistakes, don’t you.
RC: That’s it, yeah.
CP: It’s like Leonardo da Vinci chose to ignore everything that anyone had ever learned before, because he wanted to learn it all himself. And he was a genius. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be Leonardo da Vinci.
RC: But you might.
BB: And now we’re going to do a comedy show about Leonardo da Vinci at primary school. Developing the alphabet from first person. My ideas are not feature film material.
RC: What tips would you give, Bridget?
BB: One of the difficult things is finding the right people to do it with. It can be quite a struggle in the beginning, until you’re lucky enough to find likeminded people who are available at the same time as you who between you, you’ve got the right balance of skills or ability to pick up skills. It can be very frustrating when you start and you’re on your own, and you think “I can make this, except it’s just me and a camera, I need an actor and I don’t have anything. Should I use a chair? I don’t know.”
RC: The answer is yes, use the chair. At first. But yeah, that’s a really good point.
BB: It’s not really a tip.
RC: I really enjoyed that.
BB: I want to go and make a film now!