One of the tackling competencies of being a filmmaker is to always have a personal critical analysis.
Tim Porter delivers one of the honest interview to date. Despite creating a host of shorts such as 'Haven', 'Soldier', the experience hasn't come with a lot of sacrifice, set backs and lessons learnt for the future. Porter becomes real with himself about his career and has therefore, begun to set goals for the future. We respect the fact that he's resilient and determined to be great.
The triple director, editor and writer reveals the latest progression in his next film 'Emoji'. Plus, he gives insight into his next moves in the next year or two, and why Cyrus Trafford is the next filmmaker to watch out for.
- After working with a host of projects such as ‘Haven’ and ‘Soldier’, you’ve decided to produce ‘Emoji’. Why the sudden change to produce a project that is set in these social media times?
I have never wanted to be defined as one type of filmmaker. I also never want to be defined by the colour of my skin, my sexuality and my gender. So why would I limit myself to one given genre? My personality and my ideas stretch across all art forms. This is why for instance I have experimented with music, theatre, film and conceptual art. In short, you could say I am a chameleon of sorts, constantly evolving and always changing up my approach.
2. Why did you decide to produce a honest, comedy project that deals with the highs and lows of using dating apps?
I wouldn’t consider ‘Emoji’ a comedy. In many ways it’s like all of my films, a drama. Yes it might happen to have moments of humour, but at the same time there is also of great sadness and dare I say suspense. I would also said it contains arguably some of the most direct and dark ideas I have explored yet. Although ‘Emoji’ might appear to be a light-spirited comedy, the film itself has much more going on behind the surface. You can see a glimpse of this in the film’s concept art. I would personally consider this project to be an honest reflection of where our culture is currently at. Everything has moved into a virtual world. Most of our communication is through virtual means, Facebook, phonecalls etc. In a sense dating apps are meant to form physical connections with strangers. In my opinion I would argue we are more disconnected then we ever have been as a species. That’s why I would say ‘Emoji’ is more about disconnection then it is about connection.
3. We’ve noticed that the official poster is done in an innovative way. Whereby it’s done as a iPhone dating app (since everyone can talk social media language). Therefore, we challenge you to describe your personality as: a)movie title and b) emoji?
4. Films such as ‘Tangerine’ and ‘Snapped The Movie’ have been filmed on smaller devices. i.e. Smartphones. Are there exclusive details in regards to the execution of the film that you’ll like to explain in a few words?
In all honesty, me and my team are in two minds of what way we want to shoot this film. Since we have had one of our team leave the production due to scheduling conflicts, we have been long debating whether to shoot on an iPhone 7+ or on an Alexa. Naturally there are benefits to both options.
Firstly shooting on the devices the characters use in the film is specific. It could enhance the realism of the story we are telling. My only reservation with this method is whether or not this is necessary; as it could come across as a gimmick. Many films including the ones you have mentioned have utilised these devices to their own advantages. Needless to say it has been done and I am not sure whether or not we would simply be adding anything different to those films in terms of cinematography. At the same time though, there is a part of me that wants to keep building on the strong production values that have arisen from ‘Haven’ and ‘Soldier’. Both projects arguably are my most professional looking and sounding projects to date. In the past I used to focus less on production value and I feel because of that my work was limited to where it got seen. I don’t really want to step backwards, as I am someone who is forward thinking. I make films to progress, not to remain in the same place, both in experience and intellect.
I have enjoyed my collaborations with both Kadeem and Maia. Out of the two I feel like me and Kadeem have had a much stronger working relationship. Kadeem has been an associate producer on two of my projects. He has also been a co-writer on a film we will be shooting before ‘Emoji’. There might also be a sequel in the pipeline to ‘Haven’. This is due to the fact that we have nothing but the upmost respect for each other. We both fuel each other’s creativity and desperately want to continue working together. I would consider him to be a true friend and an even better collaborator. Since ‘Soldier’ it’s become clear that a future collaboration with me and Maia is not likely.
6. How do you feel when your work as a director, editor and writer is being recognised?
To be honest with you, I don’t feel anything. I know that might come across negative but I have yet to benefit in any way from having my work screened at a film festival. ‘Soldier’ particularly hasn’t done very well. Yes it screened at the British Urban Film Festival and The Black International Film Festival, but the film will now receive no future screenings. The sole reason this has occurred is down how that film was produced. At the time of getting involved with ‘Soldier’ I was approached by Maia to produce a showreel. On the back of our meeting we both felt like a short film would be a better way to adapt the narrative. It would give us more scope and show more of what Maia is capable of as an actress. The story of ‘Soldier’ is taken from a play called ‘Guardians’ by Peter Morris. Although me and Maia adapted a script from the original source material, the film is now unable to be screened publicly. Maia did double duty on this project. She starred and produced ‘Soldier’. Naturally this is a huge weight for anyone to take on, especially an actor as gifted as Maia. The problem was though that she never got permission from the writer to give us the go ahead to film. This was something that has only recently come to light. I was informed that we can no longer promote or submit ‘Soldier’ to festivals at the request of the playwright. In many ways ‘Soldier’ is just another failed venture for me and the team that invested time into the project. Due to the fact that the project wasn’t communicated at all from the get go, we now have a film we can virtually do nothing with. Naturally I am greatly disappointed and immensely frustrated that I cannot present what I would personally consider to be my best work to date. Sadly also, Maia at no point has acknowledged anybody else’s efforts. All promotional material and interviews for the project have revolved around Maia. The film was a true collaboration and to not acknowledge anyone else who equally invested time and effort is a little unfair in my opinion. Going forward, I have decided to no longer commission or get directly involved with other people's work. Time is something very precious to me, especially given the immense talent that died last year. What I would say is: The film industry is incredibly cut throat. You are very lucky to find genuine people here, and when you do they are few and far between. I am lucky that I have people like Kadeem, Cyrus Trafford, Mia Hawk to name but a few around me. That doesn’t change the fact that I have felt very despondent about the industry for a while now, which was why I decided to take a step back since November to reassess my goals as a filmmaker. For many years I tried my upmost to sustain a career. I failed! After years of rejections and living from hand to mouth, I now have secured a full time job with one of the biggest companies in the world. I am able to earn a stable income and continue practicing my craft as a serious hobby. As sad as that is to admit that is the cold hard truth. Unless you are an actor I truly believe it’s difficult to sustain a career as a director. Maia luckily is able to move on from ‘Soldier’ and not be directly affected. For me, the failure of her producing on that project has lead to me benefiting nothing from the collaboration.
7. Do you still use dating apps?
No I don’t and I do not wish to discuss my personal life in a public forum. Why can’t we just separate the life of the creator from the work itself? Take what you will from my work.
8. Do you think that the second chapter of British Cinema will be more directed towards independent filmmakers like yourself?
There is no future in British cinema! The truth of the matter is a select few are lucky enough to breakthrough. For many of us we might never make it past directing short films. A lot of people believe that one must adapt and take on other production roles to accelerate their chances. I disagree. I have worked at a post-production company, paid less than £40 a day, unofficially off their books with zero chance of progression and for what? As a director due to the lack of opportunities out there I have had to force myself into working on no budget projects as a means to keep practicing as no opportunities are out there. It’s not right. Film as an art form is dying quicker then you can say Brexit for the umpteenth time. There is less and less opportunities to break through as there is an over-saturation of content out there. It’s impossible for consumers, let alone film companies to see everything. Maybe one day things might be different, but for now I don’t see there being a new wave of British cinema. Films being made in this country are either franchise based or mimicking bigger budget Hollywood films and failing miserably. Original work isn’t making it through. Money isn’t being given to new voices in this country. Instead funding bodies would rather give a recognised musician or actor money as a means of guaranteed return. There are bold filmmakers out there, you just ain’t seeing them. The real talent may never make it through. They will be left to exhibit their work at short film nights. That’s probably the best they can hope for.
9. What prospects do you have for ‘Emoji’? Will there been prospects of creating your first feature film? Afterall, you’ve got a large portfolio of independent films.
This year I am trying to make the transition to working towards producing longer form work. I am venturing back into theatre this year as well with ’12 Steps’. The short film projects ‘Emoji’ and ‘Ghosts’ starring Elijah Baker and Bhav Parmer are in many ways proof of concepts. ‘Emoji’ is only one part of a bigger story. It has a sequel with completely turns that story on it’s head and forms into a horror film. I think the real test this year is to try and achieve these projects and make them into a living, breathing entity. I have lived with some of these ideas for years. I want to try my upmost to bring them to life, while I am still young and hungry to achieve my goals. I hope in 2018 that both projects will be able to be realised into longer form work based off the success of them as shorts. Fingers and toes crossed.
10. Name the top three films that inspired and motivated you to get into the world of film?
1. Let The Right One In (2008)
2. The Klass (2007)
3. American History X (1998)
11. Who do you recommend that we should look out for in the world of film and television?
There is only one person I can truly recommend that New Wave and it’s reader should look out for. Cyrus Trafford is not only my best friend but is a tour-de-force filmmaker. He is a director that doesn’t compromise and truly pushes the boundaries with each project he produces. 2017 will be his breakout year. I can feel it.