One of the most popular film festival’s in Croatia – Motovun Film Festival – gets underway this weekend in the beautiful Istrian town of Motovun, and Croatia Week caught up with filmmaker Dean Leon Anderson, whose short film “Grace” will be making its international premiere there…
Hello Dean, if you could tell our readers a bit about yourself, and how you got into filmmaking?
I was born and raised in London, England. I became a director by buying a camera, and filming small projects on top of my work, like music videos and performances for friends and bands I knew. I eventually focused my attention on making fiction films. After graduating from University, I was lucky enough to get an internship at MTV for 9 months. I stayed at the company for many years after. I eventually decided I would follow my initial dream, which was to make movies, so I sat down and started writing.
What interests you as a director?
I grew up watching a lot of films, but I had no idea what a director actually did until I studied Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ in college. I realised the visual decisions and the way the story unfolded on-screen were made by Hitchcock and directors in general. Even subtle things, such as Janet Leigh’s character in ‘Psycho’ wearing black in the hotel room when she has the stolen money, and white when she has decided to bring the stolen money back, were little things I’d notice more when I actually started studying films. I loved the idea of having a creative job too. I also enjoy collaborating. I’ve collaborated with pretty much the same crew on the last couple of short films. Cinematographer Steven Heycock, and my producer Shereen Billings to name a few. The crew have all grown together from our experiences throughout the films.
Any particular influences on your work?
I’m enjoying a lot of coming-of-age films at the moment, so a few of these have influenced me. Boaz Yakin’s film ‘Fresh’ has influenced my last two short films. Also ‘Submarine’ by Richard Ayoade is a film I’ve watched repeatedly. Some directors who have influenced me in general are Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Lee, Luca Guadagnino with ‘I Am Love’, and more recently, Clio Barnard with ‘The Selfish Giant’.
What’s your latest short film ‘Grace’ about?
‘Grace’ is a coming-of-age story, about an isolated 17-year-old girl, played by Natasha Kendall. Grace has a brief sexual encounter with an older stranger, who is equally a very lost individual. She finds the man’s lost wallet with a home address on his driving licence. She then decides she wants to see him once again, by visiting his address and returning the lost wallet. Her idea doesn’t go to plan. The rest, you’ll have to see!
We see you also work as a producer. On your Vimeo channel there is info that you produced a Q Mag promo with Lilly Allen, what was it like working with her?
Yes, I produce promos and videos for a few companies. I’ve worked with Lily Allen in the past, and she’s always great to work with. You never know what she’s going to say, and she is always in a good mood (around me anyway). I should be posting more work on my vimeo soon.
Do you plan to make a feature film?
Yes, I am. Currently my fourth short film is in production, but I spent the first half of this year writing a feature film. The first draft is done, so I’m going to crack on with it after this new short is finished. The feature film is similar to a short I made recently called ‘Jasper’. I’m looking forward to making feature-length movies in the near future.
Will you be in Motovun presenting your film?
I certainly hope to be in Motovun. I’ve always wanted to travel to Croatia, so this would be a great opportunity to see the country. I can’t wait!
Grace is screening at Motovun Film Festival on Sunday 27th July.