Chris Pugh On The Broadcast Success of His Short Film 'String'
November 19, 2017
Whenever a young filmmaker embarks on their journey in making a short film for the Random Acts scheme, the shining prospect at the end of the long road is always to get your creation shown on Channel 4's Random Acts television programme - this is the ultimate end-goal, the bullseye for anyone who has won funding through this three-year Arts Council project. However, with only a handful of the films actually being picked to appear on Channel 4, the chances of achieving this have always been relatively miniscule. What's more, Random Acts is split into two camps: the aforementioned scheme for young 16-24 year-old filmmakers, and the separately-funded set of films by more established filmmakers and creators of any age. This means young and often first-time filmmakers are up against the likes of Ai Weiwei and James Franco in vying for a prestigious television slot - so the competition is undeniably stiff.
This makes the achievement of 18 year-old filmmaker Chris Pugh all the more exciting. His film 'String' was broadcast in September, an incredible result for Chris, who was just 17(!) when he wrote and directed it. The film explores themes of free-will, foregoing dialogue while managing to portray a profound yet slyly humorous story. Watch the film below, read Chris chronicling his experience and then watch a behind-the-scenes, seen at the bottom...
I’m an 18-year-old filmmaker and live just outside of Bristol, I’m currently studying Filmmaking at UWE.
How did you find the process of working in a professional film environment?
It was a great experience to work in a professional film environment. The crew were very hard working and helpful which made it a productive and rewarding experience. What I really took away from the shoot was just how long it takes to make a film, ‘String’ is 3 minutes long and took two and half days to shoot. This shows just how important planning is for a successful shoot, as there are so many elements that must be ready at the same time. It would be so easy to run over without doing the proper preparation.
String’ seems to grapple with ideas of fate and determinism, how did you come up with the concept and what were your inspirations?
I first thought of the image of people following the string when I was in a crowded room and the image of people following string just came into my head. The story took longer to establish and came out of thinking about the ideas and implications that this image brought up over a few weeks. In terms of inspiration, I watched a lot of other Random Acts films to see what worked in a 3-minute film and what would be possible with the resources we would be given, as well as building a mood board of images that helped set the tone of the film when writing and planning. The film further developed after the location scouting, as well as adapting the script to fit the location - it helped me really narrow the story down to the essentials and think about it practically. As well as this, I found getting feedback from my mentor inspiring creatively, as it encouraged me to refine the script before shooting - and having someone to test ideas with was invaluable.
How has the film been received since it was released?
There’s been a great reaction to the film so far. When you’re in the middle of making it’s hard to stay objective and judge how it will be received, so it’s reassuring to get such a positive reaction to the film. ‘String’ was broadcast on Channel 4 in episode 4 of the Random Acts TV show which was amazing and since then it’s been put up on the Random Acts YouTube and Vimeo channels where it’s had a pretty good reception. It’s always nice to hear positive comments on your work.
Are you hoping to continue to create film work?
Yes, definitely. I’m working on several ideas at the moment that I would like to make in the near future and I will be producing work with the Filmmaking course at UWE.
And finally, do you have any snippets of wisdom to pass on to young creatives out there?
Yes, Firstly I would recommend applying for Random Acts especially as it’s the last round. In your application, be bold and make it as easy as possible for someone reading it to visualise your film. More generally, I would suggest making an effort to network and actively looking for opportunities.