‘Forget Me Not’ dir. Michael Beddoes

Keeping a relationship is difficult. Especially when one of you doesn’t remember having it.

Director: Michael Beddoes
Writer: Briony Redman,
Producers: Amer Iqbal, Briony Redman & Michael Beddoes
Key Cast: Briony Redman, Richard Soames, Katherine Bennett-Fox

C8: The script was written by Briony Redman who also starred in the film. How did this collaboration come about?

MB: The agent who represents Briony got us chatting regarding a short comedy script, which turned out to be ‘Forget Me Not’. We got on really well over a coffee and from that point I think the discussions turned to when we make it rather than if.

C8: Was the experience of directing different with the writer also acting in the film?

MB: I always thought it would be but actually the joy is that Briony is incredibly trusting. So during the development period and pre-production it was purely a writer and director working relationship. In fact I believe at one point we were discussing someone else coming in to play Laura. As we got nearer the shoot it changed to feeling like I was talking to any other actor playing a role in a film. Hopefully that’s because Briony didn’t think I was going to come in and ride roughshod all over her baby, but why would I, it’s a brilliant script.

I suppose on the day there were little tweaks and I would quickly run them by Briony and explain my thinking before implementing them.

The big benefit of a writer/ performer is that they know that character, the dialogue and their motivations inside out, so it makes that part of the process much easier.

C8: Describe some of the challenges you faced in bringing a dialogue heavy script to the screen.

MB: It is always a challenge keeping an audiences attention when there is so much dialogue and limited movement on the screen, but then the script gripped me so much when I read it, that I felt it was just about translating that to the screen. My biggest fear was losing the connection and energy in the performances, so I cut the script in half and decided to shoot all the master shots in two long continuous takes to keep the flow in the performances. From a performance point of view, I thought it made more sense to treat it like a play and let the actors find the rhythm in Briony’s script

C8: How did you work with the actors? Did you find time to rehearse before shooting?

MB: Working with the actors was an absolute joy. Not only are they all lovely people, but also incredibly talented. We managed a half day rehearsal the day before shooting. That was incredibly useful to find a level for each part of the script, as it ebs and flows as each character grabs the intellectual and emotional upper hand over the other.

C8: The film had a successful run on the festival circuit. What do you think contributed to its success?

MB: That was completely unexpected and brilliant. I honestly feel that people have taken to it because it’s not a scenario that relies on a certain up bringing or background to connect with the characters. The script could be repurposed into Spanish and shot in a Barcelona tapas bar and it would still function exactly the same.

C8: How important was touring the festival circuit to you before you released the film online?

MB: Of course it’s nice to screen at festivals when a programmer has liked it enough to want to screen it publicly, but the most important reason to screen at festivals for me is to get it seen. At the end of the day, I love to make films to entertain, so the more people we screen to, the better in my eyes. Also it’s fascinating seeing what people in different countries think of a project.

C8: Your full time job is as a Commercials Producer for Hoot Comedy. What does your role entail?

MB: I budget and schedule the commercial projects that come in to us from agencies and clients. Should the shoot get green lit I then crew up, organise the casting and run the shoot itself. It also looks like I may get to direct a small commercial gig for Hoot in the near future.

C8: Can you describe some of the challenges balancing a full time job whilst also writing, producing and directing in your spare time?

MB: Balancing a full time job, especially a producing one which is seemingly non-stop, is difficult. It became about pre-planning when the quieter periods would be with regards to client work, and also we shot ‘Forget Me Not’ on a Sunday, which is the one day there’s almost guaranteed not to be a shoot dropping in. The last short I shot, which is longer and bigger in terms of production, we shot exclusively over weekends.

C8: How did you overcome these challenges?

MB: The biggest challenge is remaining flexible so that work can take precedence but you don’t become unreliable with meetings about the narrative stuff. Sometimes you just can’t balance it and have to make it happen, like on my last short where I worked a full day of pre-production on a commercial and then went straight to set for 12 hours of directing a nightclub scene.

C8: What, in your opinion, makes for a good collaboration?

MB: Knowing that you are not the best at everything. In a good collaboration you should recognise your own weaknesses and then be willing to bow to those who are more skilled in that area.

Trust is also incredibly important. The producer on the day of the shoot was Amer Iqbal, who I’ve known for a number of years and it worked so well. I didn’t enquire or ask about anything to do with production, as if it was in Amer’s hands I just assumed it was being done and vice versa with him asking me about the direction and narrative things. And it ran like clockwork, so a massive tip of the hat to him.

C8: What’s next for Michael Beddoes? Any exciting projects lined up?

MB: We have a psychological drama called ‘Flotsam’ that we screened at BAFTA for cast, crew and friends a few weeks back and is now on the festival circuit. We have just discovered we will be screening at a festival in May, which was great.

This year it looks like I will be shooting three more shorts as director, I’m a co-writer on three feature projects with Kristina Heaney, producer on a short which is currently on the longlist with Creative England iShorts and attached to direct my first feature which is a dark thriller.