Interview with ASFF 2013 Filmmaker Staten Cousins-Roe

ASFF 2014 is currently open for submissions. An established and dynamic player on the UK film festival circuit, the event is a celebration of independent film from across the world, and an outlet for championing and supporting short filmmaking. Filmmakers are invited to submit films in the following genres: advertising, animation, artists’ film, comedy, documentary, drama, experimental, fashion, music video and thriller. Director, Staten Cousins-Roe, won the Best Comedy at ASFF 2013. Cousins-Roe speaks to us about This Way Out and the benefits of a short film.

ASFF: This Way Out is a wonderful comedy short, where did the initial idea come from?
SCR: I was looking for an idea which I could make cheaply and easily as my first film. I’d written a very rough draft of a short called Kill Me which had a mockumentary style to it. It followed a previously unemployed guy who, with the help of a government grant, started a business killing local undesirables – and business was booming. Katie Brayben (who plays Maude) was round having a cup of tea with Poppy Roe (who plays Minnie) and myself. Katie mentioned the subject of euthanasia and the idea of using it in a dramatic setting. The idea grew from there.

ASFF: Why make a short over a feature?
SCR: From an up-and-coming filmmaker’s point of view the benefits of shorts are mostly practical. Being shorter they can obviously be shot in a shorter period of time which means raising a smaller budget. Also it can be quicker to write a smaller number of pages – 10 or 20 rather than a hundred. Having said that carving out a story with a beginning middle and end can still take a long time for a short.

ASFF: How was it to be at ASFF in 2013?
SCR: ASFF was a lovely experience. I’d never been to York and found the city to be utterly charming. It was super to win Best Comedy and the awards ceremony was a lot of fun.

ASFF: For filmmakers starting out, what advice would you give?
SCR: This Way Out was my first film so I’m still starting out myself. But the process taught me that it’s important as a filmmaker to know what your next project will be and how the project you’re making now will help get the next project made. It’s also much better to spend time and energy making one good project that you’re proud of than three that are less developed.

ASFF: Which directors have inspired you?
SCR:
An eclectic mix, I’m really inspired by those directors who made their first features for tiny budgets like Ben Wheatley with Down Terrace, Chris Nolan with Following, Edgar Wright with A Fistful of Fingers or Darren Aronofsky with Pi. I find that a great inspiration because it reminds me the most impressive element of a film is it’s story and for that you don’t need a large budget, just thought – that’s an inspiring idea when you’re starting out.

ASFF: What do you have planned for the future?
SCR: I’m currently writing what I hope will be my first feature film, while completing a draft of a new short film which is being developed under the LOCO Sky Mentor Scheme – where I’m being mentored by Sky Comedy. I’m also meeting with agents and television production companies about my next projects while This Way Out continues to screen at international festivals. So things are busy!

To find out more about This Way Out, visit www.thiswayoutmovie.com. To enter ASFF 2014 visit www.asff.co.uk.

Credits
1. This Way Out, courtesy of ASFF and Staten Cousins-Roe.