Interview with Sameer Patel, Director of Long Walk Home and On the Bridge

Director Sameer Patel has two films in this year’s ASFF, Long Walk Home and On the Bridge. ASFF speaks with the filmmaker about both projects and how he navigates between comedy and drama. Both films are set in London and feature protagonists who discover something about themselves on their journey through the city. A tale of modern manhood, On the Bridge is based on a true story that changes the course of two lives while in Long Walk Home Thomas is haunted by a secret that he harbours, and struggles to divulge to his girlfriend.

Long Walk Home is in Comedy: Screening 2, which can be viewed today at 1331 from 15:30 – 17:00 and at York St John University Temple Hall at 17:30 – 19:00. Tomorrow it will screen at 10:00 – 11:30 at King’s Manor 2.

On the Bridge is programmed within the drama strand, Drama Screening 10, and will be playing on Sunday at Reel Cinema from 14:00 – 15:30.

ASFF: On the Bridge and Long Walk Home both take place in London. What inspires you to use the city as the setting for your films?
SP: London is one of the most culturally rich and visually diverse cities in the world but it can be an easy place to dislike unless you stay open to what it brings you. With so much diversity it will always take you out of your comfort zone and show you something new, but this to me is its great strength. If you look at Long Walk Home, Thomas is closed off and finds it difficult to communicate with his girlfriend or people he meets on his way home, leading to a tense and comical ending, though not so great for Thomas. On the other hand, in On The Bridge, Matthew opens up to a stranger, leading him to face a fear and realise his courage in a big way.

ASFF: Drama short On the Bridge is based on a true story. Where does the storyline come from?
SP: The writer Elena Fullers’s brother met a soldier on Waterloo Bridge who asked him to hold his clothes whilst he jumped off the bridge as a test of “his metal” before he shipped off to war. The soldier jumped in, took his clothes back and went on his way.

ASFF: As a filmmaker working in comedy and drama, how easy is it to move between both genres?
SP: I would like to write drama that has funny moments, rather than look at comedy and drama separately, as I think real life is more like that. I always looked at both Long Walk Home and On The Bridge as comedy-drama, however LWH is in the comedy section and OTB is in the drama section so I can see how subjective this can be.

ASFF: In your opinion, why is it important to participate in and/or attend film festivals like ASFF?
SP: Participation is important as short films rarely get the chance to be seen on a big screen, even though as filmmakers we design the film for this format. Film festivals like ASFF give us the opportunity to be seen in this way so that’s great. I attend because it’s nice to be in an environment with other filmmakers and people who love to watch them.

ASFF: Do you have any future screenings or upcoming projects?
SP: I have just shot a music video in Malawi for a band called Heavyball who support the Kaiser Chiefs, which will be out in January. As part of a scheme which allows PhD students and filmmakers to collaborate, I also just finished another film with a PhD student in Mathematical Physics from Cambridge University. On The Bridge is also screening as part of the Underwire Festival in London where Elena has been nominated for best writer.

To see more of Sameer Patel’s work, visit www.vimeo.com/sameerpatel or follow @onthebridge2013.

For ASFF tickets and passes visit www.asff.co.uk/tickets. Alternatively head to the festival hub at Visit York.

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Credits
1. Sameer Patel, Long Walk Home, 2013.