"The journey is difficult, but surviving is key" an interview with director Jason Wingard
Best known for his work on the movie In Another Life and Eaten by Lions director, editor and writer Jason Wingard talks to Mandy News about how he got involved in film and his future ventures.
How did you get involved in Film?
I started as a stand-up comedian. I started making short films and then went back to study at around 28. I was making films with stand-up comedians I knew - like pre-web series. We won a student film festival called ‘Exposures’ at the Corner House. That kind of got us going - then we put more films in and had success with those too. And that was it really.
When the financial crash happened in 2008 we started to diversify and go after commercials etc.… I started targeting short film competitions, especially those with prize money, and that gave us a platform.
We entered a short film festival called Virgin Media Sports. In the first year we won the ‘People’s Choice’ and in the second year we won the ‘Grand Prix’ which was 30K to make a film with the BFI. That gets you on peoples radar a little bit.
I did a lot of work making pilots with the BBC and then started to move into features.
Was there a time you decided to move away from comedy?
Although I have always done that it’s never been the only thing I wanted to do, the next features we have genre hop again. I feel once you have done it you can do it again. I never set out to make comedy films but the people I knew when I started were comedians. In Another Life is very much a politically charged drama, which was a response to what we were seeing on TV in Calais.
I wanted to learn more about it. I had made a documentary about the anti-fracking site in Barton Moss, as much as anything to try and discover what people were campaigning against. I think if you’re not given that information in the press then filmmakers and artists have a responsibility to find out themselves.
It was guerilla film, made in three sections. We went to film in Calais and then we built a fake Jungle on an anti-fracking camp in Warrington, which is how those two films informed each other.
Did you think it would get the response it has at the time of shooting?
No, we were just trying to give people a voice. The furthest thing from my mind at the time was going off and winning awards.
We had to make this look like a journey from Syria to Greece and then to the UK, and we had so little budget, so we definitely were not thinking of winning awards. But if you make films that resonate with people then you might get some kind of success with them, equally if you know what you want to say with them.
Tell us about Eaten by Lions?
Based on a short film I made with Jack Carol, who was in Britain’s got Talent at the age of 14, and who has cerebral palsy. It’s a road trip movie about two brothers who are trying to find the Pakistani family of jack’s half-brother. It should be getting a limited cinema release in March.
It was the first UK film to win the London Indian Film Festival, ‘Audience Choice Award’, and was also at Edinburgh Festival.
What’s next for you?
We have a load of things in early stages of development, including a couple of horror films, a crime drama, a thriller and a comedy. You never know what you will have support for. My attitude is if the funding stops I’m quite happy to go and make another Guerilla film.
What advice do you have for up and coming filmmakers?
I think the key is to continue to make films. The journey is difficult, finance is difficult, but surviving is key. I looked around at University and thought only two or three of us out of 30 plus will still be around in ten years, and I was determined to be one of them. I believe that is the attitude you need to have.