Kieran Stringfellow - 'Bulldog' Director Q&A
Visability Film Festival sat down (many miles apart over e-mail) with Bulldog director, Kieran Stringfellow, to learn more about the short taking this year's festival circuit by storm.
VFF: Obviously a Bulldog is a very British image. Was it important for you for this film to feel like a British picture?
KS:100%. The film itself was inspired by the city of Manchester and we were keen for the city to almost act as a character within the film. We wanted to really capture the atmosphere of the city, and I guess in some ways that then reflects the atmosphere of the country.
Kieran Stringfellow - Director
VFF: Dissolve Audio’s sound design is a hugely important aspect of the film, can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with them, and the process that was undertaken?
KS: I knew early on making ‘Bulldog’ that the film would almost live or die by the sound design and score, and in many ways the film didn’t truly come to life until we were able to watch a cut with the completed audio work. We knew going in that almost 90% of the sound would be created in post rather than through on location sound recording. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to achieve with the score and sound design, and thankfully me and Brian (Dissolve Audio) were on the same wavelength, both with the project and with just our general taste in cinema and music. We worked quite closely together, but ultimately Brian expanded on my initial thoughts and ideas to create something that went above and beyond what I originally imagined.
For me, Brian’s work absolutely makes the film, it’s what pulls you in and keeps you close until the very end. I remember when I first watched the completed sound and score cut with the footage, it was like seeing a film in colour for the first time.
VFF: The performance from Louis Brogan is brilliantly complex, even whilst remaining dialogue-less. How does aiding an actor with a dialogue-less performance provide different challenges for a Director?
KS: So it was kind of like a trade off. Without dialogue we didn’t have to worry about line delivery or improv or anything like that, but we did have to worry about how we would convey the characters emotion and mental state purely though expression. Before each scene me and Louis would stand aside and just talk about the character and where he was at at that moment in time, what is he feeling? What’s going through his head? Why is he conflicted? And we’d just talk about it really. Louis’ such a talented actor and we really struck gold with him, and I was continuously surprised with the subtleties he was able to achieve with his performance.
VFF: You have a very creative approach to your editing style, if that’s a fair way to put it. Do you get as much pleasure from your editing process as you do from the shoot?
KS: I think the edit is where you start to build your film and really find out what it is you’re actually making. In many ways the real directing work starts with the edit as that’s usually where you have to make the hardest decisions, and I love that process even if it can be heartbreaking at the best of times. I thought the edit for ‘Bulldog’ would be a breeze because I was working without dialogue, but it ended up being the opposite. For the most part I was editing without sound, and then with the lack of dialogue it was a real struggle to understand if we were building the right pace, or if the scenes flowed together, or if any of it actually made any sense. So like I said, when I first watched a cut with sound & score, it was the first time I was able to really understand what we’d actually made. And then from there on it was fairly plain sailing…
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