6 questions with Woodwoo director, Jonny Phillips at the half-way mark.
Sunday, August 6th, 2017
1Hi Jonny! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make Woodwoo? The initial seed that inspired 'Woodwoo' came after I had completed several short films as an actor, including the award winning SOFT, directed by Simon Ellis - I've alway admired the short film form and I was looking for something to direct myself.
As an actor often presented with periods where you are not working. During one such period period I worked as a grounder for a tree surgeon friend and I realised that I could make something around this subject.
2You seem to really know the nuts and bolts of what it's like to be a tree surgeon. Do you have experience doing it in the past? If not, how did you become so familiar with the job? Working for a few months as a tree surgeon I realised that the skills you pick up as an actor, basically where you watch and absorb physical behaviour were really useful. I became fascinated by the work and the ritual of the job. It was also a very difficult time and I knew I had to make something out of the experience to go forward.
3I never thought cutting branches off trees could be so tense. Were you worried that intensity of the situation wouldn't translate on film or did you always know it would work? As soon as I got into a tree I knew that I had to make the film. The extraordinary, 3D visuals of moving through the canopy and the high up views are amazing. Combining this with the danger of tree work and any kind of human story was the something I thought I'd never seen before.
4You acted in the film as well as directed. Why did you choose to go that route and what was your biggest challenge wearing both hats? Woodwoo, was a big risk to take as a first time director. I knew we could get lucky if we kept the operation as small and tight as possible.I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew how to do it as I'd had that experience. I didn't feel I could get another actor to learn how to do the action and take the risks in the time frame we had. I was extremely lucky to have worked with DOP Andy Parsons before and after the script was meticulously storyboarded we trusted each other to make the shots.It was difficult but I am very proud of what we achieved.
5This film wonderfully illustrates how a single event can really open someone's eyes and give them some much needed perspective. Have you had any experiences that have opened your eyes in a profound way? This is a very interesting question. I have had some transformational experiences, and I think we all crave those moments, but I think transforming usually occurs some time after the moment. Working as a tree surgeon and then making this film was transformative for me; life imitated art.
6What's next? I've directed another short film with the same team, 'A Simple Fracture' that is presently on the festival circuit and we are developing a low budget feature, which will hopefully shoot next year in the UK.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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