The director won the Best Experimental Film at ASFF 2013 for Man vs Sand and then screened Nasty with us. Her debut feature film, Censor, has gained widespread acclaim, with Mark Kermode saying that Bailey-Bond is “a razor-sharp filmmaker” and Variety noting that Censor‘s “visuals are guaranteed to sear themselves into your subconscious.”
Ahead of her industry masterclass and panel at ASFF 2021, we speak exclusively to the British director about shorts films, the impact of ASFF on her career and her acclaimed feature debut.
ASFF: You started your career making short films. How important was it for you to cut your teeth in this unique format?
PB-B: Shorts have been really important in my journey. They’re a great way for filmmakers to learn their craft, build their team, and to experiment with the form and figure out what kind of films they want to make. Making shorts, you can start to work out what’s effective (or not!) in your films. You can play with tone, genre, technique, and hone your communication to cast and crew. They’re a great place to make ‘mistakes’ – I think you learn so much from things not going right practically or creatively, and it’s better to learn these lessons on shorts. It’s basically about figuring out how you want to work and what kind of filmmaker you are. Most financiers will want to see that a director can tell a story in short form before they hand over a budget, so in some ways they’re necessary.
ASFF: You were an award-winner at ASFF 2013, with Man vs. Sand taking the Best Experimental Film. How important are festivals like the ASFF in giving a platform to young filmmakers?
PB-B: Man vs. Sand is a good example of how helpful festivals can be, because that short was part-commissioned by the London Short Film Festival after my music video, House, won an award there. So yeah – I’ve had opportunities like this arise out of screening shorts at festivals. Plus they’re a great place to meet other filmmakers and collaborators. I met my producer on Censor via Underwire Festival, for example. But really importantly, short film festivals are another place to learn about filmmaking, because watching your film with an audience; hearing their reaction, speaking to them, is another stage of understanding what’s working in your film.
ASFF: Your feature debut Censor has enjoyed an incredible reception in Sundance, Berlin and beyond. How has that felt?
PB-B: It’s been brilliant. Everyone in the Censor team really believed in the film but ultimately you never really know what the wider reaction is going to be, so the fact that it’s been embraced the way it has, has been a dream come true. I really hoped when making the film that it would create conversation, about ‘video nasties’, and about censorship and horror, and self-censorship and perception, and the fact that it’s done that is very exciting for me. Our ‘video nasty’-inspired Sight & Sound cover has to be a highlight too.
ASFF: In an ideal world, will you continue to make shorts and music videos and continue honing your craft this way?
PB-B: I love short form and really see the value in it, but I don’t have so much time to work in this space at the moment because I’m busy developing long form projects. I’d love to make shorts again in the future though – I’m sure there will be ideas that come along which feel more fitting for that format. It’s a great space to experiment and be really bold and daring with the form. You can also experiment with process more freely in short form too, and that can be really inspiring.
A Rising Director: Prano Bailey-Bond is on 3 November at 16:30-17:30 on Live Channel 1.
The 2021 Aesthetica Short Film Festival runs in-person from 2-30 November. Tickets start from £25. For further details, visit: https://www.asff.co.uk/tickets