Friday, 28 February 2020

Our Journey To Cannes Film Festival: An Interview with Kris Carr & Sam Fowler

Our guests today at Into The Script are a terrific, up and coming filmmaking duo. They have two short films to their name, Survival Badge (2016) and I’m Sorry (2019). They co-wrote, produced and directed both films. 

Their feature length horror film The Young Cannibals, which they also wrote, produced and directed, will be playing at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival. They took time out of their schedules to offer up some filmmaking tips and advice for us to share with you. 

We’re excited to welcome to Into The Script, Sam Fowler and Kris Carr!!!

First off gentlemen, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me, and for
sharing your incredible story and valuable insight with Into The Script! 

Sam, you wrote/produced/directed your first short film, Survival Badge in 2016, then you both did the same with the 2018 short film, I’m Sorry, and now here you both are with a feature length horror film The Young Cannibals, which is being shown at the 2020 Cannes FilmFestival. 

Can you tell us, what are some important lessons you’ve learned over the last three years that helped you make such an enormous leap in such a short amount of time, in regards to writing/filmmaking?

Thanks so much for having us, Kevin! 

We’ve only made one tiny feature film that just about killed us both, and we’re both 25 and living with our parents, so we’re not sure we’re successful enough to be dishing out advice like this... but here goes!

The biggest thing we’ve learned is you just need to go out and make it.

Planning is everything. The more we planned a scene, the better it turned out - and vice versa. We learned this the hard way. We first decided to make a feature movie when we realised after graduating that our friends from the course were pretty much an unemployed film crew. This put a real time pressure on us to write and shoot because we wanted to get our mates to help before they all got jobs. This is how TYC managed to get made, but it was an incredibly rushed, stressful and hectic path that we never want to go down again.

Making a movie takes ages, so make sure it’s worth it. We’re really going to make sure out next movie is 100% what we want to do before we dive in.

Don’t shoot mid winter in Snowdonia. People were getting ill, and the conditions were so extreme that it slowed everything down. We even had to cancel a day’s shooting due to an actual tornado.

2. Having a writing partner is something that many solo screenwriters often have some curiosity about. 

Can you explain how that dynamic works for the two of you? Is it the same process each time, or does it depend on the project? And how do you go about hammering out any differing views and coming to a decision on how a certain scene, character development, plot twist, etc. plays out?

We feel we have a good dynamic. 

A hard part of writing can be motivating yourself to do it, so having someone else to encourage you can be handy. It also forces you to get more writing done when you’re not necessarily in the mood, but you see the other guy writing away, expecting you to have the same amount. 

Also, always having someone to bounce ideas off (who is just as familiar with the story as you are) is great to have. In addition, splitting the workload in two means we can each spend more time on our individual parts and have the same amount done as a lone writer.

For TYC we split the script in two; Sam wrote the first half and I (Kristmas) wrote the second half. We then swapped halves and did a rewrite of each others’ pages. After swapping several times we combined them and began to single out weak points together. We would run through the script specifically looking at plot, then each individual character. We only had a small period of time to write the script, as we were worried all of our mates would get jobs and not be able to act as crew. 

So we’d write from about 9am to 10pm then watch horror films all night and take inspiration from them. 

We’d spend a lot of time talking about the story, so when it came to writing we’re usually on the same page, we also have very similar taste in movies, but on the odd occasion we do have have a difference of opinion, the one who is more passionate about the point is usually able to win over the other.

3. It seems there are a lot of writers that have what they believe to be a solid short
screenplay on paper, then they come to a bit of a stopping point with their project, where they aren’t sure what to do with it next. 

Can you share with us some advice you would have for someone in that situation, on how to take that next step in turning their short script into an actual short film?

You just have to try and make it. 

Even if you shoot it on your phone. 

Even if what you make is bad - and believe us we’ve made some terrible films. It’s the best way to learn - you just need to make stuff, and you’ll get better.

4. Every screenwriter seems to have a different approach, or process when it comes to writing their script. Can you share with us what that process is like for the two of you, in regards to outlining, character development, first draft, editing, ect.?

We do have fun way of coming up with (not always awful) script ideas; and we have about 30 original loglines/ideas written from this method, so it works for us at least. We each invent three interesting characters, then swap characters and try and come up with a fitting narrative for each one.

Also, rather than making one beat sheet centering around the protagonist, we create several individual beat sheets from the perspectives of our film’s characters, including the villain; each written in a different coloured font. Then we combine these beat sheets to make one massive big ‘un. 

This hopefully means every major character has a fully developed arc - plus, examining the movie from different angles always helps us see the bigger picture and indicates holes in our story.

5. Can you explain some of the similarities, as well as some of the differences you found between writing a short film and writing a feature length film? And when writing The Young Cannibals, what were some of the advantages, as well as some of the challenges you facedwhen writing a feature film, as opposed to a short, and how you were able to overcome those challenges?

Overall we think the exact same rules apply when writing a feature and when writing a short - what makes a scene great is always the same. 

However, when writing feature scripts, it’s definitely much harder to get the movie’s pacing and tone correct/consistent throughout. To overcome this challenge, we watched 100+ horror movies and copied their pacing.

6. Is there a piece of advice that either, or both of you have been given, in regards to working in the film industry, that you always revert back to? And would you mind sharing that advice with us?

Everything in the script should either forward the plot or develop character - If you have a scene, a piece of description or line of dialogue that doesn’t do this, you should bin it. 

We find that really helpful when going through later drafts of our scripts.

Kevin  Wilde is a Feature Writer at Into The Script and a Screenwriter who has a passion for everything horror. 

Though he does currently have projects in the works in a wide range of genres. His horror short, Out of Body, was the winner of the Ink2screen screenwriting competition. 

It is safe to say you can expect big things in the near future from Kevin, many of which will have you sleeping with the lights on.

You can find Kevin on Instagram and Facebook.


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