NRFF Interviews Director Andrew Rutter
Movie • 06 min • Music, Dance
DIRECTED BY Andrew Rutter
*WINNER of Best Music Short
An autobiographical tale of youth, growing up in the ’70’s, being different, unaccepted by your family, of escape, of release. A cinematic tour de force, it depicts a boy who wishes he was a girl, set back when even the thought of a transgender person was taboo. A post war father, looking down his nose at the remains of varnish on his son’s nails, a sister, comrade in arms and blood, looking protective and concerned. It’s a stark and sad document about the turmoil of feeling you don’t belong in your own skin.
1. Andrew, congratulations on Ultrasound – Kon-Tiki being nominated for Best Music Film. How does it feel to be part of the New Renaissance Film Festival?
Thank you! It’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the New Renaissance Film Festival, I’ve been making films for quite some time but I only really started properly entering festivals last year believe it or not, so it’s always a treat when you find out someone else likes your work and wants to share it.
2. The film is truly imaginative, sensitive and witty storytelling. Can you give our festival audience an overview of what it’s about?
Kon-Tiki is a coming of age story at heart, it follows a young man who yearns to be a girl in a time where even the thought of a transgender person was taboo.
It plays with the notion of not being accepted, the sadness of leaving childhood, sexual exploration and the turmoil of feeling like you don’t belong in your own skin.
3. How did you translate the story into such colourful, magical scenes?
I always knew from the start that I wanted to create something quite vibrant, hints of fantasy and sprinkles of surrealism but only to serve the story which had very grounded themes that I think could resonate with people today. The whole film is set in a time long gone, hints of nostalgia and influenced from the autobiographical album ‘Real Britannia’ from which the song is featured on. This inspired the dream-like tone, and the idea of looking back at something that’s not as rosy as you perhaps remembered it to be.
I always liked the fact that when we think of a memory from long ago it’s never quite accurate, it’s hazy and often fragmented, which is how I wanted the film to appear, like a string of distant memories projected on the screen. I was fortunate to have a dedicated DOP Christopher Hood who really got in to the trenches with me to pull it out the bag when everything was against us.
4. Where was the film shot? How long did it take to shoot? What was the most challenging scene to film?
The film had quite a turbulent behind the scenes, it was the hardest shoot I’ve ever done. The whole thing was extremely ambitious for the budget we had but once the wheels were in motion I couldn’t get off the train! Shortly before shooting began we had a producer drop out which left myself and the DOP Chris to wrangle things in to place at the eleventh hour. I ended up taking over a lot of duties during production which ran for roughly 5 days due to some of the locations being extremely varied and the balancing of people’s availability. Most days were equally challenging for me, I was operating on 3 hours sleep most days due to picking up producer duties on top of my own.
If I had to pick one scene that was the most challenging it would have to be the floating raft in the lake. Everything was going wrong when we arrived, complications with permissions, flying a drone in Military air space, not knowing if the raft would even float! We’d traveled from Birmingham to Wales and we couldn’t leave without capturing the most pivotal scene of the film. Things eventually started going our way but it became a nightmare for our boat operator who had to keep myself and Chris in tow behind and also stop our lovely actor Daniel from spinning away on the raft with the lake’s current (which happened every 5 minutes!). I have to say though that whilst we were short on crew members, I was fortunate to have a few dedicated individuals that went to great lengths to see it all come to life. The film was mostly shot in Wolverhampton, time wasn’t on our side so we utilised what was on our doorstep and traveled out for the more location specific scenes such as the lake in Wales and the under water facility in Peterborough. I definitely walked away from the project with a wealth of knowledge from all the things that went wrong and how I would go about doing the next project.
5. How would you define your filmmaking style?
I find it hard to define my filmmaking style, not because it’s complex but because I think I’m still exploring it. I’ve had people tell me they recognise a pattern in my work, in it’s tone and aesthetic but I’m always trying to do things I haven’t done before.
6. Have you always been interested in filmmaking? What films inspired you growing up?
I was fortunate growing up to have a supportive Mother who allowed me and my brother to watch horror films which ultimately triggered my thirst for filmmaking. Films like Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and an array of TROMA movies in my early teens showed me that things can be done for very little money but fueled with lot’s of passion. As I grew up I started discovering filmmakers like David Cronenberg, Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, John Carpenter, Jan Svankmajer & Terry Gilliam…just to name a few! Me and my brother inevitably roped our school mates in to some home made horror films which I guess was my film school.
7. How have audiences reacted to the film?
It’s my first run of festivals with Kon-Tiki since it came out so I haven’t actually experienced it with an audience yet! As you know, most music videos debut online so I was frantically searching for comments from people I didn’t know to see what they thought, good or bad. Overall it was a pretty heart warming experience, even though it was mostly an online thing I was inundated with beautiful messages, which made the hard work seem worth it.
8. What are you working on next?
I took a small break from projects like this after it was finished, it was such a huge task and actually affected my health (Cue the violins) so I had to take a step back and re-assess the way I approached things. I did a bunch of Documentaries and Music Videos prior to Kon-Tiki so right now I’m developing some pretty weird dark comedy shorts with actual dialogue, which is something I haven’t done a huge amount of so that’ll be fun!