Filmmaker Daniel Deville Talks By Any Other Name

Filmmaker Daniel Deville joins us on Close-Up Culture to tell us about us about his new film, By Any Other Name.

Within the chilling underworld of sex trafficking, the heart-wrenching bond between two sisters unfolds. One sister, ensnared in the shadows of exploitation, fights for her very survival, while the other, a determined working-class mother, wages a relentless battle against insurmountable odds to bring her sister home

How did the journey with Slick Films begin? 

It began with me bedridden, unable to walk, and nothing to do but write. I had a pretty serious accident in 2020 that required three surgeries, so my directing career came to a pretty abrupt halt, along with the rest of the world at that time I guess.

I wrote two scripts while in bed, a short and a feature, but after rejection from a few big funding bodies, I found myself looking for a home for By Any Other Name. I knew Slick Films by reputation and from the quality of films they put out, so I took a chance and sent them the script. Little did I know that not only were they going to champion the film, but me too! I couldn’t have asked for a better home to create in, and after learning to walk again, I reimagined my career, moving away from music promos & TV commercials, to focus purely on narrative; which is my true calling. I’m a lot poorer now, but so much happier!

The rest is history. Chris Overton and the team have supported me every step of the way and I couldn’t be more grateful for all they’ve done for the film and me personally.

Can you tell us a bit about By Any Other Name? 

By Any Other Name is a film that tackles the subject of sex trafficking and vulnerable children. The statistics are alarming and unfortunately, awareness is very low in the Western world. Most, including myself at one time, only think about sex trafficking when it’s a story from a faraway land. Sadly, the issue is right down the street from most of us and globally we need to highlight the plight of these kids that are prayed upon.

Our producer, Camilla Arnold, came on board mid 2022, an amazing profoundly deaf filmmaker, and transformed production. It was my first time shooting with a deaf person, but she was so kind and generous with her time. It quickly became apparent that as a team we were very strong, and deafness held no barrier to our creativity.

Through, Rachel Shenton, who’s a great actress and one of Slick Films Executive Directors, we also partnered with HearArt Foundation, whose mission is to encourage filmmakers to hire more deaf crew. Already having, Camilla, on-board, it was a no-brainer. Through this partnership, we shot the film with a 50/50 deaf/hearing crew, which was a real honour for me. 

How did the idea for the film come about?

By Any Other Name was born in a quite unusual place actually; the middle of the Nevada desert at Burning Man Festival. 

I strolled into a huge wooden temple, a place created for those who’ve lost loved ones to leave little notes for them. Stood beside me as I stuck my note to the wall was a girl, a beautiful girl. We read each other’s messages and found we’d both lost our parents at a young age. We left together and spent the subsequent two hours swapping stories. 

She spilled this extraordinary tale, about how she was kidnapped and sex trafficked as a child. The juxtaposition was pretty powerful as she was so enigmatic and glowing, you’d have never known the traumas she carried with her. She told of how her love of dance was the only thing that kept her going all those years. And that really stuck with me. How passion and art can both protect and transform. Something I knew only too well growing up with BPD and bipolar. If I didn’t have film to escape to or dream of, I don’t think I’d be alive today.

Anyway, we hugged, kissed, and rode our separate ways into the dusk of the desert. I never saw her again. I don’t even know her name! But her story never left me. It was her resilience and spirit, and how talent drove her on. They couldn’t take that from her and that’s a powerful message to add to the sex trafficking narrative. I hope in some way she gets to hear about the film. It would be pretty magical to sit with her again and show her what she inspired.

What is next for you? 

I’ve got a pilot in development, which I was brought on to rewrite and direct. I’m really excited about that one. Still being funded but things are going well. My next short film will be shooting early next year, which will be under Slick Films too, and I’m also writing my debut feature.

Since my accident, my ethos has been to never stop shooting the things I love. Laser-focused and enjoying the ride. It’s an exciting time and I feel very lucky to have the support from Chris Overton and the Slick Films team. There’s plenty more to come from our partnership.

How can our readers connect with you? 

They can follow the By Any Other Name story on Instagram @baonshortfilm

My personal Instagram is @danielandfilm and you can check out my work at www.danieldeville.com

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