Following a string of impressive short films, Charlotte Regan is undoubtedly one of the most exciting emerging filmmakers in Britain.
Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with Charlotte to talk about offering different perspectives, class dynamics in British cinema, building relationships, and much more.
Q: ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Fry Up’ will screen as part of the UK Film Festival. These are two short films that – similar to ‘Drug Runner’ – deal with crime and family. What draws you to these themes?
A: I’m not too sure really! I suppose they are themes I grew up around and a world I feel comfortable talking about at the moment. I’m sure that’ll change and develop as my work does, but for now its the stories I feel aren’t being told as often as they should.
Q: I admire the way you humanise people and families who are normally immediately demonised by the media. Why do you take that approach?
A: It is just what I saw growing up. I’d have friends who were grafting to feed their family or to help their parents, but what they were doing probably wasn’t always the best route.
It was always the intentions I was interested in and the characters of those people. Never the crimes or what they were caught up in. People are just people after all, no matter their background or what they’re involved in.
Q: Sight and Sound recently had an issue that spoke about about a class divide in British filmmaking. How do you see the current landscape of the British film industry?
A: I don’t feel like I’ve been in it long enough to comment. I am surrounded by a mix of classes on my films, but I am also aware it is not the same for everyone.
But then when I go into most offices, it is a struggle to find more than one person with a working class background. You’re expected to work for so long unpaid in film that it isn’t the easiest to come from that working class world and step into the industry, especially when you don’t know a single person in it.
I hope that – as we’re all speaking about it – it’s changing slowly. It is the background I came from. I just tried to juggle different jobs for a year or two whilst I made my own super small and cheap portfolio projects to start using those to try and get directing work. People were always down to help if I chased and asked them.
Q: What are the challenges for a young filmmaker trying to make their way in Britain at the moment?
A: I am super cheesy, but I honestly just love filmmaking. I love everything about it.
Sure there are some challenges. I’m sure one we’re all feeling is the vast amount of content available now. It’s so hard for your project to be picked up when there is so much amazing stuff in the world. But again, that’s a pretty nice challenge to be faced with as it makes you think: “well, what is actually different about my work?”
Q: You work with some fantastic British talent on your films such Martin Askew, Neil Maskell, Sian Clifford and young Mitchell Brown. Can you talk about some of the talent you’ve worked with and perhaps someone you’d love to work with in the future?
A: I really love to build relationships. I think the best work comes out of trust. My producer, Theo Barrowclough, is someone I always work with now and hope to always work with. The same with my composer, Patrick Jonsson. It is just about building this team of crew and actors, and having a next level of understanding amongst each other where you don’t even need to speak to know what the other person is thinking about a take or a cut.
I’d always wanted to work with Neil, he is incredible. He’s mad intuitive and kind of just knows what you want without you having barely said anything. Sian is a legend. I recently got to work with Sam Spruell and he’s someone I’ve always been a fan of.
Some of my favourite actors that I’d love to work with at the moment are Daniel Kaluuya, Ben Mendelsohn and Aidan Gillen.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and some of the influential figures/films in your path to becoming a filmmaker?
A: I was never mad into films. I did music videos from about 14 years old, so promos were the biggest influence for a while. I suppose the film that proper made me think: ‘yeah, I’d love to do this’, was Fruitvale Station. I saw it at Sundance London a few years back and sat there as the credits rolled crying thinking about how incredible it was and how making someone experience that amount of emotion through a film would be the ultimate goal.
In terms of people, it is always people I am surrounded by instead of big influential figures. My friend, Saoud Khalaf, makes great promos and has been grafting for years, I’m always inspired by his positivity and work ethic. It is the people I get to spend time with making projects that inspire me. Patrick is a never ending source of inspiration, Theo is inspiring, Sam is inspiring. Everyone!
Q: You’ve had a lot of eyes on your work recently, particularly with the success of ‘Drug Runner’. What are your plans for the future? Is a feature on the horizon?
A: I’m developing a feature script at the moment and starting to write another. I really have no idea though. I’d love to just keep making stuff. Whatever form or genre that comes in!