Hello Grant, many thanks for your time for this interview, may I ask what are you doing at this moment as a filmmaker?
I work as a full time time director and by default producer and really at this stage I do everything. From developing feature films and TV shows to shooting short films and web series and then as you’d expect I make branded content, sometimes I get some great projects with decent budgets for my level or I’m filming some corporate work for some of the biggest businesses out there. So as I said quite honestly I do everything. It’s non stop.
When did you decide to become a filmmaker? How would you describe yourself as a filmmaker?
Ever since I was little I was always creating but it looked like I was going to be more of a designer. I studied Architecture at University and didn’t really pick up a camera until I got the opportunity to work for a Architecture and design studio in Berlin that used film heavily in their work. I’d always loved watching films and at that point I decided that I was far better suited to film. So from there I did a short 2 week film course learning about every aspect and decided to stop Architecture altogether and focus on film entirely.
You have been part of the Userfarm filmmaker community for a long time; what do you think about Userfarm? How did you start on this crowdsourcing platform?
As a filmmaker you’re always desperate to make something that gets seen by people and that works hand in hand with who the film is for and where it will be played to people. I actually got contacted out of the blue by a guy called Hector at Userfarm and he suggested I take part in a competition for Legoland Windsor. Which was an amazing opportunity and I won! That really inspired me, to make something creative, to win and to get some money. I also had a good idea on that project. After that I decided to have respond and make films for a number of your briefs. Slowly upping my skills and production levels and the level of collaborators. Since Userfarm I’ve gone from a crew of 1 to a crew of 15+ so in every regard it’s pushed me forwards. Since then I’ve won for LG Electronics, Kinder Bueno, Galbani and now I’ve been shortlisted for Nespresso Talents.
Your recent work for Nespresso, Everyday Struggles, is impressive and has been shortlisted for the Ireland contest; how do you feel about it?
I’m pretty ecstatic not least because it’s screening at the mighty BAFTA! It’s not often you get a chance to light up the big screen there. I’ve been to Cannes a few times and it’s expensive so if we win and we get to go for free that would be amazing. Any recognition at any level is great, more than anything I just want as many people as possible to see my films and enjoy them, to some extent you can only do that if it’s got good PR behind it and being shortlisted gives it that edge. I will shout about this for the next few years for sure!
Could tell us more about this story? What inspired you to create this story?
This film was a collaboration with my co-director Elena Muntoni. As the brief was called “The Difference She Makes” it was important to me for the film to have the female perspective. A good brief in my opinion has good constraints and inspires. It was quite simple but the caption alone ‘the difference she makes’ was something that spoke to us both. I remembered that weeks before I asked my cousin, who works in the city of London, Finance – a man’s world basically – how everything was and she told me that she was fed up with getting paid half the amount of the men for doing double the work. Those words just stayed with me for a long time. I am a man, I could never understand my inherent privilege. The brief seemed to lend itself to documentary but I thought that it would be better to create a metaphor, something open-ended that you could interpret yourself. It took a while of coming up with all sorts of ideas and then somehow we decided that we’d have a woman in a really small space and we’d film from above. From there where had this idea about a wall that moved and then it made sense to have a man in there and to have this very simple almost tug of war type scenario where everything was a struggle for the woman and the man was almost in disbelief that his circumstances were worsening.
How challenging was it to shoot in 9:16?
It’s interesting. I’ve shot in the format for before and it’s definitely something you need to get used to. I spend so much of my day planning out shots horizontally and suddenly with this you have different parts of the frame to explore. The majority of the world uses smart phones to view content and so in some sense it’s the format of the future. We really used the vertical constraints to advance our idea, because the character of the ‘Everyday woman’ has to push upwards against gravity which gives it an extra barrier.
Your Filmmaker profile shows you have joined many Userfarm projects. What was your favourite project with Userfarm?
I love the projects which have great briefs that inspire me. A huge favourite of mine was a Kinder Bueno project. I knew what I created never stood a chance of winning but it inspired me to create a mad world where we imagined what it would be like to live inside a Kinder Bueno chocolate bar. It’s only 15 seconds long but it’s one of my favourites. If I’m honest I’m proud of all of them, they’ve helped me to improve my idea generation
For the filmmakers who are starting their film career … would you recommend Userfarm to them?
Of course! It’s a wonderful platform with so much opportunity. I wouldn’t have the career, confidence and support I have without it. You get to learn so much through the competitions. You learn how to come up with ideas for big names. It’s a tough skill to learn but learning to figure out what the brief and client wants without compromising on creativity is key.
And my last question, given your creativity in developing scripts, could you recommend a movie or a TV series which inspired you?
More than anything I read scripts. By reversing what you love and analysing the blueprints that made it great is what inspires me.
I love the director and writer Edgar Wright and the British TV show Spaced taught me a lot. There’s so much out there today that’s inspiring.
By: Jesús Ovejero