We are joined this week by the brilliantly wonderful writer/director Jane Gull. Jane has a wealth of work under her belt from her short film Sunny Boy which won the Le Grand Prix du Jury prize at Entr'2 Marches Cannes to feature films The Haunted Hotel and the well-received My Feral Heart. I caught up with Jane to dive into her journey so far and what lies ahead.
I'm a big fan of your work, but for others that may not be familiar could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what influences you creatively.
JG: I'm originally from Southend-On-Sea but now live in London. I spent many years travelling the world as a professional dancer and didn't get into filmmaking until my late 20's.
My first experience behind the camera was as a choreographer. This was great as I got to work closely with artists, directors and the camera department. My first directing gig was in the theatre - I love the theatre. It wasn't until I made my first short film Together Alone, supported by the UK Film Council that I got to try out my film directing skills.
I'm influenced by many things, but mainly from real life people and their situations. I was raised watching musicals so I've definitely been influenced by them and would love to make one at some point. I lived in Belgium on and off for over 10 years so watched a lot of European cinema, which I think has rubbed off on my work.
As a filmmaker, how important are making short films when you first start out? Sunny Boy, your short did exceptionally well at festivals around the world, did this help you get noticed when moving on to features?
JG: I can't imagine jumping into making a feature film without making a few shorts first. For me, it was an opportunity to find my feet on a film set, work and build relationships with cast and crew. Sunny Boy did exceptionally well on the festival circuit and got picked up by Ch4, Arte TV and Apple TV.
Your feature My Feral Heart was the UK’s most successful ‘cinema-on-demand’ film of all time - what inspired you to take on this project as a Director?
JG: It was the OurScreen’s most successful cinema-on-demand film - Ourscreen is a great way for indie films to get theatrical screenings. The writer of My Feral Heart (Duncan Paveling) approached me at treatment stage. I thought it was an original idea with some interesting characters and achievable for a first feature on a micro budget.
How do you work with actors on set? Being an actress yourself, do you find this helps you to communicate what you want to bring to these characters in a more informed way?
JG: Having worked as an actor has been a real help, I think. I love working with actors - it's my favourite part of filmmaking. Every actor is different and requires something different from the director. I don't like to over rehearse and like to keep things spontaneous. Improvisation was the staple diet of my acting training, so I like to use improv- especially in rehearsals.
JG: It's a music-drama set in London and Southend-on-Sea starring Niall McNammee and Shana Swash. It's a love story about a young musician and photographer who end up in debt and find themselves without a place to call home. The film features a number of songs performed and written by Niall. All the music was recorded live on set. It will be out in 2022.
What projects do you have coming up next?
JG: I'm in post-production for Love Without Walls so that's consuming all my time at the moment. I'm writing a tv drama set in Greece and have a number of other feature projects I am set to direct - finance pending!
What advice would you have for any filmmakers coming up in the industry now?
JG: Become a gaffer or grip - you'll always be in work :)
You can follow Jane on:
Greenlit – Love Without Walls