‘This Way Up’ dir. Oscar Hudson & Spike Morris
In this elegantly simple film, a dancer’s curiosity gets the better of him after investigating a mysterious cardboard box which transports him far away. Must he go deeper into the wormhole to get home?
Director-Editors: Oscar Hudson & Spike Morris
Music: Alex Pisolkar
Key Cast: Shun Sugimoto, Hannah Spencer
C8: ‘This Way Up’ in an unique concept. Where did it come from?
OH: The concept was a result of trying to come up with a way of connecting together a number of beautiful locations in which we could have Shun (the dancer) doing his thing.
C8: The film was featured as part of Channel 4’s Random Acts strand. How did this come about?
OH: It was specifically commissioned by the series. Random Acts is a brilliant and rare thing on television- giving opportunities to young filmmakers to actually broadcast short films on actual television, not just on the internet. That’s not so common these days, especially for people just starting out. The brief is a dream: TV as art, not TV about art. We were basically asked to make something that would keep people interested for 3 minutes.
C8: You co-directed the film with Spike Morris. What challenges did co-directing present for a primarily solo director such as yourself?
OH: At the time we made the film it was one of my first budgeted projects so I was not only figuring out all the pros and cons of co-directing whilst on the job, but still figuring out how to direct anything at all! In truth, I do prefer the autocratic nature of writing and directing alone. I do believe you need a strong singular vision steering a project. But that said I don’t think that’s at all impossible for co-directors. I loved working with Spike and simply being able to talk ideas through with someone who’s as equally invested in them as you is totally invaluable and something I do miss.
C8: What advice would you give to emerging filmmakers embarking on a co-direction collaboration?
OH: Work with people who you think are great and who think you are great. It’s got to go both ways. Be honest with each other and be ready for decisions to take longer than they would if it were just you.
C8: What did you shoot on and what was the reasoning behind your choice?
OH: We shot on a 5D Mark II partly because we owned one already and couldn’t afford to rent something nicer for a ten day road trip around Europe. But mainly because it just made sense. The film’s concept calls a formulaic, repetitive and rigidly structured shoot methodology so the image quality and cinematography becomes very much secondary to the execution of the idea. We didn’t need to blow our modest budget on a fancy camera; the money was much better spent on petrol and brie.
C8: You travel to several different locations in the film. How long did the shoot last for and did you run into any difficulties whilst travelling?
OH: We crammed four of us into a little car along with all our gear and three giant cardboard boxes and set of around Europe for ten days. We really didn’t have a lot of money to spend so we were camping in tents on the side of the road the whole time. We pushed poor old Shun to the very limits of what he was comfortable with performance wise. We had no licenses for anywhere so it was always a case of showing up, sticking a cardboard box down and having Shun jump out of it and breakdance on pebbles and pigeon shit in front of an inevitable crowd of onlookers. I think we were all pretty relieved to get back to London by the end of it!
C8: How does ‘This Way Up’ compare to some of your work?
OH: I guess as one of my first films it’s probably been more influential than I realize. A lot of my films are quite technical and concept heavy so I suppose you might put that down to enjoying that aspect of things on ‘This Way Up’.
C8: How did you collaborate with dancer Shun Sugimoto? Did you rehearse before shooting?
OH: Spike and I went to school with Shun! We hadn’t been in touch for many years before we approached him for the film but I had been keeping up with all the stuff he was up to through Facebook. I think we caught him at just the right moment because he’s gone on to do well on some TV dance contests and do things with Cirque Du Soleil so he’s all fancy and successful now.
C8: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects lined up?
OH: I’ve made a documentary with Ruben Woodin-Dechamps about communist aliens and abandoned monuments in Yugoslavia that I’m very proud of and am trying to guide through the festival circuit at the moment. Aside from that music videos are keeping me busy and I’ve got plans for some more shorts and documentaries in the near future too. Onwards and upwards.