‘Spaceship’ dir. Alex Taylor

Chloe, a cosplayer, is told she has connections with angels and blocked energy in her womb. She transforms herself into the Alien Queen and hangs around a group of 2012 consipiracy theorists who are preparing for the end of the world. She finds a better place with her boyfriend Luke, who imagines himself to be an assassin.

Writer-Director: Alex Taylor
Producer: Hsinyi Liu
Editor: St. John O’Rorke
Key Cast: Chloe Warburton, Luke Richardson

C8: Where did you meet Chloe and what made you want to tell her story?

AT: I found Chloe on the internet when I was researching cosplayers, and something in her eyes made me think she would be fascinating to meet, and when we did meet her life story pulled me in and I felt she had to be filmed.  She’s seen another side of life that I think would echo in other people who perhaps hadn’t done the things she’s done, but would respond to them and give them courage to do the same.

C8: How much of the story did you manipulate and why?

AT: I interviewed Chloe for about 3-4 hours, and then heavily edited specific sentences and parts of her experiences in life until they made some kind of narrative sense - ie a journey.  But they didn’t happen in that order, and some of the things she said she didn’t believe, some she did, but I put them together as if they were her life philosophy. The point is to put forward an essence of someone’s experience and hope that it illuminates realisations or identifications in those people watching - whether or not they are true or not doesn’t bother me as for me, poetry takes from real life but also creates something new.

C8: What has the reaction to the film been like?

AT: Great in that we were nominated for Best UK Short Film at the London Short Film Festival, and that we had our international premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.  I think people love the strange beauty of Chloe, and love seeing cosplay explored.  On the other hand I think some people don’t get it or don’t enjoy not seeing a dramatic story.

C8: How did the people in the film respond when they saw it?

AT: Ah…well Chloe bless her was probably expecting something showing her off as ‘kawaii’ (which is the Japanese word for ‘cute’, which most of cosplay is about), but I wanted to show her strangeness and celebrate it.  So understandably I think she felt a bit nonplussed by it. Everyone else liked it though, as they all look relatively cool, especially the Emily, the little girl, who does the monster impressions.

C8: What were the biggest challenges during production?

AT: Only having about £300 to make the film, we used three different DOP’s due to their availability and had to pull equipment favours in and find locations for free.  And had to edit it in about four evenings as my editor was busy.  But it’s the usual really, there’s never enough time or money even when you got a million (so I hear anyway…).

C8: Where does ‘Spaceships’ sit in your career? What had you done before it?

AT: Before ‘Spaceship’ I made ‘Kids Might Fly’ (2009) and ‘Release The Flying Monkeys’ (2010).

C8: You’re developing a feature based upon ‘Spaceships’. Can you tell us a bit about it?

AT: Sure it’s funded by BFI, BBC Films and Creative England, budget is £350k and the script is pretty much finished - we’re set to shoot this November.  It’s about a girl who fakes her own alien abduction and disappears, forcing her father to infiltrate her weird cosplayer friends to find out where she is.  It’s a search movie and a portrait of strange teenage cosplayers, a celebration of alienation, and an exploration of how fantasy both empowers us and entices us to dark and dangerous places in our minds.

It’s a difficult challenge for me because with 90 minutes you can’t really wing it and be totally free with what you shoot, it has to be more orchestrated. I’m not really used to that, I’m a musician really and like making a lot of new stuff up on set and seeing where the film goes.

Please follow the journey on our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/spaceshipfilm.

C8: Your films are a hybrid between documentary and fiction. How do you find audiences react to films that straddle both genres?

AT: Good question! I think some people love it, not knowing what’s real and what’s made up, just enjoying the poetry of it all.  But others I think find that not knowing the genre stops them from getting into it.  I don’t do it because I think it’s clever though, just that I don’t really see the difference - documentary is always manipulated no matter how objective the filmmaker tries, and fiction is often based on real life experiences just being reenacted.  I’m a bit lazy as well, if someone real is doing something fascinating and it’s better than the script I wrote, why not film it and enjoy the human experience of it, but if you need something to get to another place, and you can’t find it in real life, then make it up.  It’s like horses for courses but the end is just the same, you wanna be moved and taken to somewhere meaningful - that’s what I think all audiences want and as long as you don’t confuse them too much they can get there with this kind of hybrid.

C8 What in your opinion is the essence of a good collaboration?

AT: I guess one in which you free you up and empower each other, rather than constraining.  My DOP Liam Iandoli is a great example because he’s open to everything I ask for but at the same time he’s an innate filmmaker who has his own ideas and just goes to get it often without even asking.  I love being surprised by footage in the edit.

C8: Are there any filmmakers or films that you found inspired your work?

AT: Yeah I’m a big Harmony Korine fan, although his last few films haven’t been as good as his early stuff like Gummo and Julien Donkey Boy.  I love some of Larry Clark, Todd Solondz, and Gaspar Noe is pretty amazing.

C8: If you did the whole process again is there anything you would change?

AT: Make more short films, three isn’t enough for a retrospective! But apart from that it’s been an amazing ride so far…

C8: You are about to shoot your debut feature, do you have any projects you plan to work on straight after that?

AT: I’ve got another feature idea I’m writing, something between Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’ and ‘Catfish’.  Once principal photography is out of the way on this one, I plan to start approaching people with that idea and see if anyone’s interested.

All news will be on my website, please check it out: www.alexztaylor.com.