Alastair Train is a filmmaker based in London and offers support and guidance at the London Film Academy. He is also a 1st Hellfire Short Film Festival finalist. We had a chat recently.
Hi Alastair, thanks for sharing your time with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into filmmaking.
I’m 25 years old and I live in London, I currently work at a film school which is great as I’m surrounded by amazing creative people which makes me push myself harder to try and be creative too.
I guess it all started from a young age, I’d always had an interest in films, but I never felt like it was my place to create them. I don’t have one of those back stories like Edgar Wright or Steven Spielberg, I wasn’t picking up a film camera as a kid and shooting my own movies, as cool as that would have been. It was really once I got to college I knew that instead of just watching of films, I could actually make them. So after a few projects at school and actually winning a best film prize there, I went to university and studied Film Theory. This turned out to be a waste of time. After that I didn’t really know what the best thing to do would be, so I started looking up film schools, I did a year-long diploma and that was where I realised that I wanted to write and direct films.
Your short film ‘Osteopathy’ was screened at a recent Hellfire Short Film Festival round. It was so popular that it won the round with one of the highest ever scores. What inspired you to make it and how did you come up with the concept?
Well firstly I have to thank everyone at the Hellfire Short Film Festival, for giving me such a great score, I was so happy to be there and see how well the film was actually received. But in terms of the concept it’s actually based on a real situation that once happened to me, luckily I managed to avoid the same grisly fate as the patients in my film. I went to see my osteopath who as he was about to give my neck a good crack, whispered into my ear “this is my first time”. At the time I just laughed and thought nothing of it. It was a few years later when I was desperately trying to think of something to write about that I remembered. I suddenly thought what would have happened if he’d actually have killed me. I’m sure he would have done the responsible thing and phoned an ambulance, but something was nagging me at the back of my mind, I thought well what if he tried to hide my body, what other terrible things might have happened after.
‘Osteopathy’ is a very funny short film. Is comedy your favourite genre?
I love comedies, especially dark ones. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you are sitting in a room and suddenly everyone bursts out laughing, especially when it involves something that really no one should laugh at and knowing that I’ve made a film that people find funny feels great. It’s such a good feeling making someone laugh. But I don’t know if it’s my favourite genre. I’d say I’m a fan of good films, whatever the genre.
Every filmmaker has their own preferred bits of equipment, what are yours?
If I had to pick something I’d probably go for my viewfinder. I try to have most of my shots completely visualised before I shoot and the viewfinder just makes it so much easier, and when you see a shot that you’ve sort of just hoped would work, when the film is finished and it looks great. Its such a satisfying feeling.
What is your favourite part of the filmmaking process?
I’d say my favourite part might actually be the editing. The moment where you finally find out if your film is going to work or not. On set unless you are having a total disaster, the adrenaline and stress normally push you through, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve crafted a good film. Its when you put everything into your timeline and watch a first draft and everything seems to hit, thats what I love the most.
What makes a great film for you?
A great film for me is made by the tone, when a director really nails what he wants and all the elements come together perfectly, when all of he crew are on their game, the writing’s tight and the performances feel real, then you’ve got a great film.
Who inspires you in the filmmaking world?
There’s so many, of course but if I had to choose anyone, I’d choose John Carpenter. I love his shooting style, his shot composition, the way he works with his actors and finally really just the way he revolutionised horror films. Its such a shame he doesn’t really make films anymore, but ‘The Thing’ will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s my favourite film and I think taught me so much about filmmaking.
If you could give advice to an aspiring filmmaker what would you say?
I’d say, plan, plan, and plan. You can never have enough pre-production when it comes to making a film, when you are starting out you’re’ never going to manage to get every single shot you wanted, but you can get close, if everyone on your crew knows that going to happen next.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m working on another short film called “All Stretched Out” but after that I’m hoping to finally finish a couple of the feature film scripts that I’ve been writing.
And finally, if we wanted to see more of your work where can we look?
I’ve got a couple of earlier things that I did on my Vimeo but unfortunately most of my work is on the festival circuit at the moment, but next year, Osteopathy and Knock Knock will be on the world wide web along with “All Stretched Out”.