25 Days to Go: Interview with ASFF 2013 Filmmaker

The ASFF 2014 call for submissions deadline is drawing nearer; however, there is still plenty of time to enter your short films for a chance to win festival screening, awards, cash prizes, editorial coverage and more. In the countdown to 31 May we speak with ASFF 2013 filmmakers, which today is Francis Lee, director of the Yorkshire-based drama The Farmer’s Wife.

A: Your short film The Farmer’s Wife was screened at ASFF 2013 in the Drama strand. What draws you to entering film festivals?
FL: I had read and heard great things about the Aesthetica Short Film Festival programme. ASFF showcases really stimulating films and filmmakers. When applying to any festival I try to find out as much as I can to see if my work will engage with the festival. Also as all my work is written about and shot in Yorkshire; it is really important for me to screen in Yorkshire.

A: Where did the inspiration come from for The Farmer’s Wife?
FL: The Farmer’s Wife was the first film I directed. I wanted to create a film that would connect to my heritage and the landscape of Yorkshire. I think audience response is a critical part of my process. I make films to be seen, to engage with an audience, to create a resonance and debate. I like to see The Farmer’s Wife as a cinematic poem to the Yorkshire landscape.

My Father is a farmer on the Pennines so I was lucky enough to shoot the film on his farm. We worked over an intensive 4 day shoot. I was very lucky to work with an incredibly gifted and talented crew with Gary Shaw as Director of Photography and Geraldine James as my Farmer’s Wife, which made the process very rewarding.

A: How do you create a film crew?
FL: I have always worked with different teams on my short films. Firstly because I find it really interesting and creatively challenging to work with new people and secondly all my films are made for virtually no money, so practically I wouldn’t want to ask the same people to work for nothing more than once.

A: What do you think the medium of short film can do for filmmakers?
FL: I see the short film format as an art form in itself rather that a stepping stone to working on feature films or television. Making a short film is like writing a poem as opposed to writing a novel. I love the challenge of telling a story in a limited amount of time – creating believable characters, having a story arc, shooting cinematically – it is a real challenge to stimulate an audience in a short period of time.

A: Do you have any future projects in the pipeline?
FL: Since touring The Farmer’s Wife to international film festivals, I have made my second short film Bradford-Halifax-London, which has also toured internationally to many film festivals winning several awards. I am currently working on my first feature film God’s Own Country, which is due to shoot in Spring 2015.

To see Francis Lee’s films visit www.strawhousefilms.com.

For more information and to enter ASFF 2014 visit www.asff.co.uk.

1. Francis Lee, The Farmer’s Wife (Straw House Films, 2012).