Filmmaker Interview #21 – Craig-James Moncur
May 3, 2012 4 Comments
Craig is a DIY creative, making things happen against the odds with little money but huge passion. I was very impressed when he sent me the link to his feature film Walter which he made as a one man crew with some talented actors in Scotland’s capital last year. The turn around on the film from script to finished piece was six weeks which is phenomenal. It may be a little rough around the edges but it is an engaging film that shows great promise should Craig gain funding for his next project.
Check it out at the end of this interview and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed as I was. Here’s Craig to tell us a bit more about himself and his work.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on?
I am a Writer and Director who grew up in Edinburgh. I have been involved in and around the professional film and television industry for the last 10 years. I have been incredibly fortunate to have worked in numerous roles from Actor to Video Editor. At the moment I am currently working on developing ideas for what will be my next film. Writing has always been one of my passions in life and I am constantly coming up with new concepts. At the moment I have what I consider to be two strong contenders for the next production. I set myself a target at the start of 2012 that from now on I wouldn’t produce any of my personal projects unless they were over the 30 minute mark, so I really have to give careful consideration to a project before I begin shooting. It would be a lot of work to start prepping and then change my mind. That said, this doesn’t mean that I am discounting shorter productions completely, I would happily become involved in a collaborative project in any capacity needed.
Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?
I didn’t start out wanting to be a Film Maker. All I ever wanted was to become an Actor. Which I did for 7 years, it started off great, but I soon found that I had to have other creative outlets. Anyone who has worked as an Actor will tell you, at times it can be a lonely life and it can literally drive you crazy. There appeared to be a reoccurring theme in that most Directors I worked with seemed to be saying the same thing to me, “You should be a Director”. I don’t know if this was just their way of telling me I was rubbish in front of the camera but I decided at some stage I would like to give it a go. I then realised that it maybe wasn’t so much the life of an Actor I had been seeking but more the opportunity of just being creative. I was always fascinated on TV sets about what everyone else’s job entailed and I knew from the start that as an Actor, as skilled a profession as it was, there was a million other things that were just as, if not more so important in the production of film and TV. I always loved writing so that’s where I started and things just went from there. I love the creative industry; I think we all need that creative spark in life. When a job lacks creative stimulation I lose interest but with film making there are a million different things to keep me focused and that’s all I want in life. I would say the inspiring side of Film Making for me is that it is one of the few things in life that I am always happy doing regardless of what project I am shooting.
Have you had to make any sacrifices and how have you coped with that?
There is one thing in particular that stands out to me as a sacrifice. With this being the only industry I have ever wanted to work in, I have been trying for many years to get my foot in door, sometimes with success, sometimes without. I have had to watch a number of my friend’s progress in their chosen careers. I still feel that I am only at the start of my journey in this industry. At 29 years old this is fairly scary for me.
What is your ultimate goal/what drives you?
To be happy and doing the thing I love in life. This is my goal and what drives me.
How do you define success?
Having a job I love and making enough to live. Like I mentioned before, I need to be creatively fulfilled. If I can do that and manage to get by then in my eyes I am successful. How many people get to do what they love for a living? I heard someone say “Find a job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life”. That always rung true with me.
How do you feel about collaboration?
Collaboration as a Writer and Director is what I am desperate for. I love being involved with other creative people. I love bouncing ideas off of others and developing things as a team. Unfortunately I have had limited chances to do this so far. So if anyone wants to get me involved, look me up, I’m on all the social media!
Do you have a niche or genre that you specialise in?
I love to be diverse. I have had an incredibly varied existence. I have met and socialised with so many different types of people and been involved in all kinds of crazy situations and that gives me plenty of ammo when writing. If I had to pick a genre that I love, I would say horror writing has always been my favourite. I can’t get enough of it. I remember as early as being at primary school and writing horror stories. My teachers must have thought I was mad. I currently have a horror script under consideration in the LA Screamfest.
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 called The Banker. I love all kinds of writing and I had written a political poem that I thought would make a great short film. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I see the world very differently to most. It was written at the time of the first banking bailouts so I thought it may strike a chord. As fate would have it, a few years later the talk of a second round of bailouts started and by that point I had the know-how and equipment to make my idea a reality. The film surpassed anyone’s expectations. It is still being viewed today and currently has over 250,000 views on Youtube. It has been seen all around the world which makes me incredibly proud.
I have a few but I love a lot of Guillermo del Toro’s work. Really dark, it’s right up my street!
All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?
My 5 films may raise a few eyebrows but before I list them I want everyone to know that they are not all included for their quality. Some of them were chosen because they used a technique that influenced me or maybe included Actors playing out with their usual range.
- Boogie Nights (Amazing cast and great writing as well as being full of amazing sets and costumes)
- Micmacs (French Film – Worth it for the ending)
- Leon (Amazing action film, Gary Oldman is incredible)
- Labyrinth (I love the fact they used puppets, too much CGI now, still doesn’t feel dated)
- Pans Labyrinth (Just ticks a lot of boxes for me)
What is the best short film you’ve seen?
I have seen so many good ones, one that always stuck in my head though was a film called Sign Language. It was entered in the Virgin Media Shorts competition. It had a really simple theme but was beautifully executed. Mirrored my view that everyone in this world has his or her own unique story to tell.
First film you ever saw in the cinema?
I think it was maybe Bambi but I might be making that up. For some reason I seem to remember seeing that in a cinema. Traumatising, why do Disney films always deal with loss!
A random/funny story of anything you have experienced in the film world?
I have a few but one that always sticks with me is – I worked on a show for 3 seasons and the Lead Electrician and Sound Man had a game of one-up-manship going. On the final day of the shoot, the Soundman managed to relay the Sparky’s car horn to his foot break. Thing is that it was an articulated vehicle. It was hilarious watching him pulling out of the lot. Of course he drove home like that as he didn’t want to lose face, I would have loved to have seen the other commuters reactions!
Favourite film related website?
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t really have one! But if I had to choose I would say Write, Shoot, Cut’s Facebook page! Oh Yeah, brownie points!
What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?
Only do this if you love it. Be prepared for a frustrating experience to start with and don’t be put off by making mistakes. I honestly believe this is the best way to learn. I have found that my mistakes have been my most valuable lessons in this industry. Don’t give up and keep on knocking on doors. Learn as much as you can about the different roles in this industry as you never know where your skill and passion may end up being executed best. And finally, and in my opinion most importantly, be prepared to meet bull shi**er’s! Just stay focused and the good people will eventually find you.