‘Ablution’ dir. Vicky Lawton

Set in a dank men’s toilet, Lucas struggles to relieve his nervous bladder.  But when the voice of a young woman comes from the next cubicle he is helped through his embarrassing ordeal.

Writer: Freddy White
Director: Vicky Lawton
Executive Producer: Rankin
Producers: David Allain & Jess Gormley
DOP: Gabi Norland
Key Cast: Augustus Prew, Chantal Brown

C8: How did you come across the script by Freddy White and what made you want to direct ‘Ablution’?

VL: Funny story. Rankin was looking through scripts and came across Ablution, by Freddy White. He actually came out of his office and said Vicky, this is right for you. Now when someone thinks a film about a glory hole is right up your street you might worry, but the charm and humour was actually something that was very ‘me’. I immediately wanted to direct it because it seemed like a good match, plus a bit of a brave move for my first short.

C8: The bathroom was a set build. Did this constrict your choices as a director or do you think it gave you more freedom?

VL: For me, it was a nice transition from stills to film. I had a fixed place to work, that wasn’t changing, and features like lighting I could be in complete control of. Did it restrict me? - Not really, the script required a one room shoot, so a set build was a smarter way to shoot it.

C8: ‘Ablution’ was your first narrative short. Were you daunted by the prospect of working with actors and how did you achieve the performances you desired?

VL: I learnt a lot, and quickly. Working with actors for the first time was daunting, but it made me realise how important it is for me to be prepared. Not just prepared with shot lists, lighting and set design- but with how I envision their characters, who they are trying to be.

C8: Are there any influences from film, art, or photography that you had in mind while making the film?

VL: I was thinking a lot about 90s films, grungy, youth, awkward. I’ve always been a fan of films that take style into consideration too, David Fincher, Jonas Akerlund - both are great inspirations to me.

C8: What were the biggest challenges in production?

VL: To be honest, the production was really smooth. I had a great team at RFP, so never really felt like there were any major problems. If there were, I didn’t know it!

C8: Your background is in photography and fashion. Did this have an impact on your visual style?

VL: Yes. Especially when it came to set design and lighting, its very important to me. Especially being an editor too, I could see how the film was playing in my head before we shot it. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t open to experiment on set, but I pretty much had a plan for each shot, how everything would be cut together too.

C8: If you did the whole process again, is there anything you would do differently?

VL: Retrospectively - with a first short, there’s a lot of things I would do differently. I would have spent more time thinking about the types of performances I wanted.

C8: Where does ‘Ablution’ sit in your career – what had you done before it and have you made many films since?

VL: I am very proud of Ablution, because I wasn’t too bothered about what everyone else was doing, I just knew the way I wanted to do it, if that makes sense. It wasn’t about trying to follow trends in film, which there are many; I tried to make something that remained true to my character. I have made another short - Hertz, which featured Toby Kebbell.

C8: What are your favourite shorts and why do these stand out for you?

VL: I was actually really intrigued by a short that I saw at Collaborates screening. Irreversible - Lewis Metcalfe. It stood out to me because I got lost in it, and I forgot I was watching a film, I was there. That to me, means it was a successful film. I guess everything was in sync, it worked,

C8: If you could give emerging filmmakers a piece of advice what would it be?

VL: Don’t be scared to make something new. I think it’s important to be aware that this is your vision. Don’t just create something because it’s for the kudos; make it because you’ve got something to say, or a different approach. The main thing is passion, if you believe in what you’re doing; everyone else will be on board.

C8: What in your opinion makes for a great collaboration?

VL: Collaboration - is about teamwork, listening and incorporating ideas.

C8: What does the future hold for you? Will you continue with narrative filmmaking?

VL: More directing. Its what I want to do.