Daz Spencer Lovesey is someone I don’t actually know personally. He is a friend of a friend who I was advised to get in touch with and I’m glad I did. Daz is a writer/director who has just finished filming a low-budget feature film (which he talks more about below) after making a few shorts and winning awards. Looking over his IMDB he has worked on a handful of good British feature films in the art department and having seen the trailer for his feature I’m really excited to have him featured on this blog.
Daz has been really thorough in his answers, many of which I wish someone had told me years ago. At the end of the interview you can watch two of his shorts Tomt and I and Monitor and see that he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Part of the idea behind this blog was to celebrate and discover great filmmakers and it’s a real pleasure to see that come to fruition.
Daz it’s over to you:
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on?
My name is Daz Spencer Lovesey. I am a feature film writer/director and the lead producer for the ViewTV Media Group. Currently, I am at the festival entry stage with my new feature film The Passing Place which is a grimy British road movie about two friends on the canal systems. The world premiere will hopefully be at Raindance Film Festival 2011 (watch this space). You can join the facebook page for more information.
Further to this, I have several projects in development and another feature film penned for next year. Yet the most imminent and exciting project is a documentary on the Israel/Palestine situation. This is a collaboration with the wonderful Anthony Mark Streeter and EAPPI charity foundation. It is a ground view of the humanitarian crisis that is happening in the country.
I keep very busy with different projects and also work ten days a month in London/Reading producing programmes for television and web. This is great fun, really challenging and pays the best! First tip: – EVERYONE needs a real job, so get one you enjoy!
Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?
When I was young, movies spoke to me and inspired me more than any other medium (plus my Mum was great and used to tape me Freddy and Robocop when I was about 8)! I had a great interest in books and music, though it would be films that I was most enchanted by.
I can remember quite vividly around the age of ten going through a profound grieving process upon realising that the ‘real world’ wasn’t really like the movies, that Tatooine wasn’t real and that the Holy Grail wasn’t really guarded by an immortal Templar Knight! An actual physical process of grief, I was devastated the more I learned about the less magical nature of the real world! I’m not saying that I am a film maker because of some pre pubescent existential crisis, that would be absurd, though it did help me realise that I am occupied by the search for a ‘mythic quantity’, not only as a professional, but as a person, as a ‘soul’.
The ‘loss’ of childhood is something I think we all spend time mourning. Well this is my way of mourning it. I spend my time searching for it in the things I do; in film, in books, in the music I listen to. I don’t think ‘Film maker’ is a comprehensive definition of what I do, though it is the channel I have chosen to explore what interests me about life, an avenue that can’t perhaps be found in less ‘creative’ jobs. If I can’t be Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones, maybe I can create a small universe where characters like those are possible, even just for myself.
Have you had to make any sacrifices and how have you coped with that?
I think like with any art form you go back and forward, it’s like playing guitar or learning to paint, there’s a lot of doubt, then belief, then riffing, then smashing shit up. I think it is absolutely a personal journey and one that should be a struggle, otherwise you don’t learn anything, and what’s it all about really?
More practically I moved around a lot in my early life exploring and developing as a person and that wasn’t always easy on those closest to me. I have spent FAR too many years in the pub with my so-called ‘artist’ friends, most of whom are just wankers like me really. Financially there is of course University/Film school plus the thousands of pounds you put into making shorts and Music video’s that are only really ever an exercise in honing craft. There is also the stark reality that your degree is worth approximately ZERO and there are approximately ZERO jobs out there to send your worthless degree to. So there are the years in the mire, of jobs you hate, only faith feeding your brain. Filming crappy music video’s, conferences, weddings for a few hundred quid a pop is NO-ONE’S idea of fun.
Now up to present day, recently I invested £20,000 in to my first feature film, this meant I sold my car (That I loved!) my HD camera, put a lot on credit cards etc. I knew at the time it was a ridiculous thing to do, though I also knew that I had to do something ridiculous and it had to be soon, before life got so real there was no way back. So I did. My rational is ‘If you’re not prepared to gamble everything, how can you expect anything?’ The world owes you nothing. I was also aware it takes an almighty shout to get heard in this industry though sometimes if you’re lucky and you’re loud enough the other wolves wake up and wail along too. I was really counting on it.
What is your ultimate goal/what drives you?
My wife and my family are the most important thing in my life. Secondly I need to feel like I am doing my best, as far as I know we only pass this way once and the juice needs to be worth the squeeze.
How do you define success?
There is nothing poetic about success. Success is only courage. You either have it or you don’t and if you don’t you may as well just fuck off.
How do you feel about collaboration?
I think it can be very rewarding but also very dangerous.
People are very precious about their ideas, their protocol and the way they see things working. I have collaborated many times with close friends and more often than not it ends in a fight (both figuratively and literally), yet sometimes it also ends by creating some of my best work. It depends entirely on how and why you value your collaborator. You should only be looking for what benefits the product. If it is anything else, you are both probably fibbing to each other.
Do you have a niche or genre that you specialise in?
Not really. In 2006 I won a BBC award for directing comedy and we spent A LOT of that year doing comedy sketches and pilots and I remember hating it. Since then I have done many shorts that are drama, fantasy drama, or drama comedy. I like things that pack a punch and smile at you whilst they are doing it.
What was the title of your first film (Your first first film, not the one you are happy to call your first film) and can you tell us a bit about it?
My first film was a 5 minute DV short called ‘Jasmine Tea’ it featured two versions of myself (of course) sat across a chess board from each other using split screen. It was supposed to evoke a feeling of transition as if an elder version of myself what imparting advice to a younger more whimsical version. It was entirely ripped off ‘The Seventh Seal’ though it is light-hearted and kinda spiritual. I wanted to sustain a level of epiphany but also have some irreverence towards it. So I whacked a Bill and Ted sound track over the top of it. ‘All we know is that we know nothing!’
Again it changes (and I believe it should) the intellect is a moving vessel. I have my ‘return to’ favourites like Kubrick. I wrote my dissertation on Bergman, but I’m not religiously devout to any film maker really, I’d like to think I’m open to anything. I value the lowest film director over the highest critic; it is so easy to deconstruct, to analyse. It’s a different thing entirely to create something out of nothing. ANY film that gets made has merit and the creator needs to have a pat on the back. It does get on my tits when you get these smug tea drinking dickheads sat around in coffee shops all day putting the world of film making to rights. I have the belief – Do it or don’t – the proof is in the pudding. Art must have it’s reflection/analysis of course, its half the reason it exists.. It just seems an easy option to build your camp there.
All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?
Can I do the last few years instead?
- Let The Right One In
- There Will Be Blood
- The Informers
- Drive (haven’t seen it yet but hoping for good things)
What is the best short film you’ve seen?
Currently I really like two of my friends short films. I think Deborah Haywood’s ‘Sis’ is a cracker and has so much confidence and self-awareness, I can’t wait to see what she does next. I also like Paddy Coyle’s ‘Dirty Egg’ because it is a riot! So funny, great cast and great bunch of lads. He is also shooting a low-budget feature this weekend, so shout out to him.
Favourite film related website?
My wife shouts at me because every time we are watching a film I am on my phone reading the trivia about it on IMDB, so I guess it must be that.
What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?
Firstly define what you want to be. The earlier the better. There are many, many crew jobs in the film making world, and you will need to be flexible and live out of a sleeping bag at times, but they are fun and rewarding and go get ‘em. Though if you want to be a director, a writer/director; the PRIMARY story-teller, it is a more difficult situation. No-one is going to come to you, no one is gonna say ‘This guy is so good, lets give him a million quid to direct his next movie’ you make your own luck, you make your own movies. Commit, or go home.
Don’t dally, don’t spend years on idea’s, do something, move on, time is not waiting for you at this stage in your career, if you’re Kubrick fine, wait ten years, perfect it, the budget will be there. Right now it’s not, it’s you, so get shooting. Out pace those around you. There is nothing to quantify you but the work you do, no matter how much time you spend in coffee shops.
Don’t be afraid of failure, you will fail, it happens. If it sucks do another one.
You need the ability to inspire and be inspired by those around you, surround yourself with people who are proactive, who are reflective and aren’t just there for the ride. Though also understand everyone has a motive for working on your project, there has to be incentive. Overlook that at your peril.
Lastly, be prepared to do everything, if you’re not, why should anyone else be. Its YOUR movie…. Right?
Fantastic Daz, thanks so much for taking part and opening up for the interview. It’s really amazing to me how honest people are being and how you can tell from the answers that these people live and breathe what they do. Great stuff.
You can follow Daz on TWITTER
I urge you to check out the two short films below and to follow Daz’s progress with releasing The Passing Place.