Please introduce yourself and the film
I’m Luke Newell, and I’m a screenwriter, poet and aspiring filmmaker from Wolverhampton. In Bloom is my first short film, which was made in partnership with BBC Arts, Rural Media and Electric Flix.
What was the creative process behind In Bloom?
The idea for In Bloom actually came a few years ago when I first read the poem Killing Time by Simon Armitage. I fell in love with the imagery and the ideas that Armitage was putting across – specifically the ability to find hope and beauty out of something as horrific as the Columbine Massacre. The visual elements of the poem really stuck with me and I have always felt that it would translate well into a visual medium, but actually getting it to that point proved to be a challenge, and there were several failed attempts to make this film prior to my work with Rural Media, which involved me securing the rights to the poem and getting a few aspiring filmmakers on board. But due to a lack of funding and other commitments, we were unable to make the film this way.
However, after applying to the New Creatives scheme and meeting with Grant and Julie, I was able to develop the idea into a workable script. From there, the process was, while not necessarily simple, more straightforward. I was introduced to Tom Lawes at Electric Flix, who directed the film, and we discussed the script and how we would shoot it. Tom actually helped set my mind at ease when he explained how we could capture that dreamlike feeling of Killing Time, and from there it was a case of going to our sets in Worcester and actually filming. It got edited, then released, and the rest is history.
What were the challenges of adapting a poem to film?
I think the biggest challenge of adapting a poem, compared to a novel, for example, is that poetry doesn’t need to be narrative. Killing Time in particular, whilst maintaining a loose narrative, actually seems to me to be more of a phantasmagorical experience, in that it reads more like a sequence of interconnected images, rather than a literal plot. As such, one of the big issues I found early on was trying to find a way to write a script that both had a semblance of a plot, but also maintained that dreamlike feeling of wandering through a series of images. It would have been entirely possible for us to simply shoot a series of images based on the poem and edit them together, but I think the presence of Lucy and her arc from fear to confusion and finally, ecstatic relief adheres to the feelings that the poem evokes, but presents them in a way that makes use of film as a medium.
What were the opportunities it presented?
Making this film gave me the opportunity to work on a professional film set and to see my work produced to a professional standard. I think that the film industry, even at the lower levels, is subject to gatekeeping that makes it difficult for people to break through. I found the experience of being a working-class writer with no prior connections in the film industry to be my greatest obstacle, so being able to meet people in the industry and forming those relationships has been invaluable for the development of my future career.
Do we need more grand gestures of kindness?
I think it would be nice to see more grand gestures of kindness, especially in these apocalyptic times, but in the long run I feel like it would be better to see a lot of smaller acts of kindness done more consistently, as this would have a more lasting impact on society. I think Mother Teresa said it best: “small things done with great love will change the world.”
Where can people find you online?
People can find me on Twitter at @newelly249
New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts, delivered in the Midlands by Rural Media.
We also reviewed In Bloom, and you can read our thoughts on it here.