A Wee Night In
We speak to up and coming filmmaker Stuart Edwards about his short film 'A Wee Night In'.
"In a quiet street in East Kilbride, near Glasgow, life moves slowly for the small and frail 95 year-old Chrissy, who is a determined and feisty wee woman who still carries out her daily tasks to keep herself busy and active.Carers and doctors keep telling her to rest and take things easy, which she finds genuinely insulting, as if that`s something elderly people would do.This is a tough woman from the war generation, who did not have an easy, early life and has worked hard all her days and brought up five children in difficult times.
She awaits the arrival of Bill, her 91 year-old boyfriend, who will spend the weekend at her house. Bill is a natural comedian who finds humor in most things and we see the spark between them and their genuine affection for each other in a typically under-stated Scottish way as they go about their daily routine."
Could you tell us about your project ‘A Wee Night In’?
A Wee Night In is an 11 minute documentary and is a humorous and endearing portrait of an elderly Glaswegian couple. The main character in the film is my grandmother Chrissy, whose boyfriend Bill comes to stay at weekends. The story is very minimal and the film is all about the characters and gives an intimate portrait of everyday Scottish life.
What was it about Chrissy that first drew you to her and made you feel she would make an interesting subject to film?
Well, Chrissy is my grandmother and is an amazing character. She has such a determination about her and even though she is 95, she is pretty unstoppable and doesn’t acknowledge her limitations at all. She’s one of a kind and very humorous with it.
A couple of times I had my camera on while I was visiting her and I noticed how these little dramas around the house would burst out of nothing. One moment it’s quiet and calm, then out of nowhere my gran was ranting about something or her and Bill would have the radio and TV full blast, and they would be shouting over each other. I would always be pretty astounded and exhausted after filming due the sheer amount of activity that two people in the 90’s could generate, so the film became about Chrissy and Bill sharing these everyday moments.
One of the main difficulties with documentary filmmaking is having access to your subject, so when you get the opportunity to film someone unconditionally, it is very enjoyable. Although the content seemed very simple, with just two people spending time in a house together, because I am close to them, I got a huge sense that the time they spent together and their interaction needed to be documented and preserved in a way that really captures their characters.
I filmed a lot with them as I wanted the film to feel organic and pure as if there wasn’t a camera there at all, just so the audience could be in the house with them for a short period of time and see how they live. A bonus for me was that during that time I got to know them both a lot better.
Can you tell us about your background and what made you decide on a career in film making?
I was in Grays School of Art In Aberdeen for 4 years and always enjoyed dabbling in photography and film, but it wasn’t until I started my MFA at Edinburgh College of Art that I really started getting into filmmaking properly. I really love documentary filmmaking as I like to shoot and edit myself and it means I can direct films while having my hands on a camera, which is hugely enjoyable for me.
As for setting out for a career in filmmaking, I’m very much still at the start of it and still figuring out how to make a living while taking on creative projects.
Could you tell us about the visual style of the film?
The visual style of the film was influenced by the pace and rhythm that Chrissy and Bill created between them. I really wanted to play with long takes and I tried to fit scenes into one take with a static wide frame, so scenes were allowed to play out. The approach seemed very photographic and embraced the stillness of the scenes so that any movement or sudden wee outburst of drama would be more emphasized.
Finally, how would you describe your style of filmmaking and who are your main cinematic influences?
My style varies depending on who and what I am filming. I think generally though with documentary, I try to make films that give a close and intimate perspective and I am happy to weave in some humor if there is an opportunity. That’s the part of documentary filmmaking that has been very enjoyable to learn, the way the circumstances of the subject matter can influence the method and approach, so you can develop different styles in response to different situations.
In terms of cinematic influences I have so many, but for “A Wee Night In” the influence came from watching Alan Berliner’s films. He is an experimental documentary filmmaker who makes films about his family and a film about his relationship with his father called “Nobody’s Business” was the inspiration for me to make a film about a family member. There’s something really satisfying filming people you know and capturing all their idiosyncrasies and looking deeper into everyday things that usually get overlooked.
The full version of 'A Wee Night In' will be available in the near future, so keep an eye out!