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Filmmaker Focus: Jack Spring

At 19, London-born Jack Spring was referred to as “Britain’s youngest filmmaker.” After dropping out of a film course at York University, he made his first feature, 2018’s road trip comedy Destination Dewsbury. He followed that with the hugely popular Three Day Millionaire (2022), which was bought up by Netflix, and is currently working on Aubrey Flint’s Christmas, which he is prepping to shoot in York. Outside of his feature work, he still loves making shorts, and his poetic animated film The Circle played at ASFF in 2022. We speak to the ASFF alumnus about navigating the industry and his varied films.

ASFF: How did you get your start?
I am a creative, I always have been, but I’ve had to learn about raising money. I’m not from a massively wealthy family and I didn’t know anyone in the industry when I started. I worked on a film in York called Scott and Sid. I’d just left university and the producer and director sat me down and taught me how to raise funds. I’m eternally grateful to them because then I got my head around how it works, the business side of film. I think that’s probably where a lot of people get stuck. The only jump there is to make between shorts and features is wrapping your head around the business side of it. I think a lot of people would never make that jump because they’re either not taught it, or they think: “I’m a creative, someone else would do that.” But it doesn’t work like that.

ASFF: How did The Circle begin?
JS: Every year I like to make one short that is not bound by commercial pressures. A little creative thing. So, I came up with a first-person framed narrative that takes audiences through the cycle of life.

ASFF: Were you involved with the animation?
 I didn’t do any of the physical animation myself … quite frankly, I wouldn’t have the patience to draw every frame out! I pulled in a lot of favours from people that I’ve employed on movies or TV, and we got it done. As a filmmaker directing animation, you’re kind of doing the equivalent of getting your shots and directing your actors on set, but also editing it as you go. With live action stuff … being on set is like gathering your ice and then your edit is making this nice ice sculpture. You shimmy about. But you have to do that on the fly with animation. So it’s quite a long process. It took the best part of a year to make.

ASFF: Your recent feature Three Day Millionaire landed on Netflix. How did that feel?
JS: With an indie release, realistically, you might get three to four weeks, 50 to 100 cinemas. That is great but that doesn’t equate to a lot of people seeing the movie, especially post-Covid-19. Whereas, you know a lot of people will see it on Netflix. They also marketed the film really well. I think it peaked at number five, which was quite surreal. I woke up one morning and saw it on the TV. On the preview screen when you log in! I think as a director of my age, it is more important than any theatrical release, because people will see it. I’ve had conversations with complete strangers in the pub – and they’ve watched it!

ASFF: Your new film Aubrey Flint’s Christmas is being shot in York, the home of ASFF. Tell us more.
JS: Nowhere is there a better place for a Christmas movie that hasn’t yet had a Christmas movie! It’s a little bit like Nativity, set in an old folks’ home. Beautiful, heartwarming, a slightly disguised retelling of A Christmas Carol. It’s different to Three Day Millionaire – it’s not rock and roll! But it’s still my kind of comedy with heart. Like a baclava cake! It has these delicate little beautiful layers.

Jack Spring | IG: @jackspringfilm
Three Day Millionaire | Watch on Netflix | IG: threedayfilm

Interviewer: James Mottram

Aesthetica Short Film Festival is open for entries. Submit Shorts, Features, VR and Games and screen in competition at the BAFTA-Qualifying event in November. Find out more.