What inspired you to make Selfie Stick?
I really wanted to explore the selfie culture and what constitutes ‘ideal beauty’, and comment on how toxic this can be for social media users who aim to fulfil this ideal. I thought it would be an interesting take to explore modern ideals versus the traditional old wives’ tale and showcase what would happen if these two elements collided. The saying that “If the wind changes, your face will stick like that”, was something I heard as a child, and with today’s obsession with social media and the selfie, it remains a relevant warning to those trying to create the ‘perfect pout’.
There are some great themes raised - what are your thoughts on the influence of social media and body image?
I think the influence of social media and body image has both positive and negative effects on audiences. It can empower audiences by focusing on and promoting body positivity, or it can make social media users feel inadequate as they try to live up to an unrealistic ideal of what beauty is. The commercial ideal of beauty is something that needs to be diminished, and I think it is our responsibility as social media users to decide what type of message we want to convey, and what type of body ideals we want to support and champion within our posts.
What was the production and creative process of making Selfie Stick like?
Myself and producer, Kieran Nolan Jones, had a pretty clear idea from the beginning that we wanted to create a vibrant, surreal tale with a clear moral. It was a very fun process. I don’t usually dabble in comedy stories, but I am used to making surreal horror films, so it wasn’t too far removed from my comfort zone. We had a lot of fun on set, and we were very lucky to have such a great cast and crew to work with. We were super organised, so it was quite a nice and relaxed shoot.
Have you faced any difficulties in producing content during the coronavirus pandemic?
I did have a play at Putney Theatre I was co-directing, which was cancelled in March 2020 two weeks before the show, so it was pretty heartbreaking to walk away from it after months of hard work. For my film projects, I was relatively lucky during the pandemic because I was at the redrafting stage of my feature script, so I spent most of the past year working with script editors and completing various redrafts. I have also been lucky enough to receive commissions from Arts Council England for smaller remote film projects, which have been a lot of fun.
Can you explain your creative journey into filmmaking? Have you ever worked outside of the arts?
I would say I fell into filmmaking after I got a job at a camera rental house just outside of London. It was there that I met a community of budding filmmakers who used the weekends (and the free camera kit) to make films together. I started writing short horror films and began making them. Once I started making films, I knew I had found the thing I love – the creative process and the collaborating is what I love about filmmaking. But yes, I worked in various admin roles full time and would spend evenings and weekends pursuing filmmaking.
Are you currently working on any projects and what can you tell us about them?
Filmwise, I have my debut feature script which is in the stages of development. I am also directing an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet for Putney Theatre, which will have a two week run in November, and I also have a short play, The Governess, which will be on stage this coming June.
Do you have any advice for young people wanting to enter the industry?
My honest advice is if filmmaking is something you love, you have to keep going. Keep learning, be humble and be creative. Find a good network of peers, put yourself out there and have faith in yourself and the stories you want to tell.
You can also read our review of Selfie Stick here.
New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts. Check out our New Creatives coverage in the New Creatives Voicebox.