Award of Excellence – “Prom Date” (UK)

Title: Prom Date
Runtime: 9 min
Country: UK
Director: James Buck
Placement: Award of Excellence
Competition: December, 2020

Synopsis: Ruth is harvesting a secret from her parents.

Her prom date is arriving any minute now.

Time to face the music…

FILMMAKER Q&A – Louis Brough – Writer, Producer

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

LB: From a writers perspective I never really had a specific inspiration for this story directly but the original idea for this stemmed from a girl who wants to tell her mother that she is planning to lose her virginity, the LGBTQ theme came in later on as I developed the idea.

I know that if you were to ask the director, James, this question he would tell you that he was inspired to make this film due to the stories and challenges his best friend encountered when she opened up about her sexuality. 

Once we met and had a chat about my idea and his inspirations I knew this would be a perfect partnership to make this happen.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

LB: I’m not sure when the idea fully came together but I know for a fact that I was talking about it in 2017 because I knew that Amelia Gabbard was the actress who would suit this perfectly, so I told her about it and she said that she was interested. Then her dad, who she had told, said that it sounded like a great idea, so I really began the development from there. 

Luckily it was never one that I sat and wrote properly, I wrote down a brief outline, and then when I met James and I told him my idea in 2019, he said he would love to read the script and that was when I really sat down and focussed.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

LB: First of all when you say that you are aiming to make a 10 minute film, that’s fine, but your first cut will likely be closer to 15 minutes and then you need to cut it down using the things that the story needs most, so finding the balance is important.

Secondly, there needs to be a reason for your audience to watch and not revealing too much too soon is a good way to do that. I’m not saying that it has to be a mystery but even if the audience guess what’s going on straight away they still want to know what the reaction from the other characters is because, in the world of the film, the characters are the ones who don’t know what is going on and when they find out it needs to mean something.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

LB: We filmed this in one evening 3 days before the Covid-19 lockdown took effect.

There were various things that went wrong on the day – at the very last minute the supporting actress dropped out because she was in France so we had a absolute last minute dash to find a replacement.

Fiona, who plays the mother, got her dates mixed up and turned up a day early and then said she can’t make it the next day until later on so it was kind of a rush to get it finished.

We didn’t cut corners but there was a plan for a gimbal shot which had to go for lack of time and instead of the planned 3 shots outside at the end we did it in one shot.

So, time was against us and we simply had to catch up as best we could.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

LB: Choose your battles…

I was helping some students out on their final project a couple of years ago and there was one scene that lasts under a minute, which looked great, but they shot it from 8 angles, they were tweaking the lighting each take as well and they were running out of time so they had to get it finished and I was thinking – ‘why do you need this many angles for this scene?’ 

If it is only in the film for 30 seconds or so then don’t take an hour to set it up because you can focus your time on the important ones later.