Interview with Jonathan Reid-Edwards | director of HADLEY TK-421

Jonathan-Reid-Edwards-PR-PORTRAITPlease introduce yourself.

Hi there, I’m Jonathan Reid-Edwards and I’m from London, England.

When did you start your career?

I knew I wanted to make films from before I was a teenager, but I suppose I started my career, or rather, my looking to one day have a career, when I was eighteen. I had just left university to move to London and learn my craft when I had the opportunity to make a music video in a competition for Pearl Jam and it’s ten club association. It was an amateur piece to be sure, but it was my first solo outing as director, editor, and more, and it actually ended up winning the competition. That was when I had an inkling that I wasn’t mad and could keep going with my sanity in tact for the foreseeable future. Since then I’ve made short films, short form work as a freelancer, as well as writing feature scripts I hope to one day breathe life into.

Can you describe us the reasoning behind “Hadley TK-421”?

I was in my final year at Drama Centre London and I needed to make a graduation project- from the get go we were given a set budget, so I was lucky enough to know exactly what I had to work with. I then set out a list of things I disliked in most short films, especially ones made by film students. Then I decided to make something that would eschew (hopefully) most of those pratfalls: small casts, limited location, contemporary and familiar setting (like an apartment or restaurant). But these problems all exist in short films due to budgetary limitations, which I had many of! But I decided what the hell, let’s try something else. If I fail, it will fail magnificently, if not, well, time will tell.

Hadley (2)

How long did the development of your film take?

Not long- I had the idea and script down over a weekend a few months before shooting. Drama Centre London was a full-on drama school experience, even as a director, and spare time was just that. So I needed to get the script down early and use connections both personal and academic (drama school alumni) to get a strong cast together. That and Cressida, the production and costume designer. Without her and our line producer Ginny, development would have taken much longer- two hard working people who somehow managed to work wonders with the meagre budget on offer. We had £2,500 to make a period short film with three principals and a big cadre of extras.

Can you describe what was most challenging about shooting your film?

For me personally, it was actually letting go of the camera operating. I usually shoot my own work with occasional help from lighting, but on this I wanted to focus on the actors more as we didn’t have much, if any, rehearsal time. Pablo Rojo was our DP, and he took in all my storyboards and short lists and made them sing. I love shooting, holding the camera and finding new images while in take sometimes, so on this I found it hard at first to let go. But then I did take a few liberties and operate myself on the more enjoyable parts to shoot, like the party.

According to your artistic point, who or what is the main inspiration for representing the concept of your story?

This is going to sound either obtuse or pretentious, or both, but every piece I shoot and write has one driving idea: to serve the story. The art of what I do, if there is any at all, hopefully comes from me by accident as I focus primarily on telling the story. This one, like all of them, wrote it itself. I just told it how it wanted me to. And however much I could waffle on and say what I think the film is about, I’d rather leave it to the audience and the telling. Some think it’s a comedy, others drama, I’ve even read a couple of essays from Japan about the film and was knocked of my feet at how much they had read into the film. None of what these essays said was what I was thinking when I made the film, but if that’s what they get from that telling of the story then I will not take away from it. I’m just glad they got something.

How do you see the role of an independent artist nowadays?

To be honest. Primarily with themselves- there’s too much bullshit in most mediums that calls itself art, and the people that make it know it. At least I hope they do.

What’s next? Are there any other projects that you are currently working at?

Well Hadley TK-421 led to some fantastic opportunities with me signing with agencies both here in the UK and in LA, and in the past few years I’ve been able to be brutally honest with myself and focus on the stories I want to tell- and the only way to do that has been to write them. I have three feature scripts I want to one day make, all vastly different in style and genre, but all very much me. The first is an intentionally low-budget and UK-set, and after a fantastic IndieGoGo campaign we are making a short film or promo to show what the feature script is capable of. The others are much grander canvases and require me to get ahead in my career before I can tell them in the way that they should be told!

Screening films online – what are your thoughts about that? What do you think is the future of web and films?

For me the web is where short films should reside. Not so much features. I am guilty of this without doubt, as a love a big old home cinema set up, but I think the more people stream and watch feature films online, the more they destroy the communal and truly magical experience of seeing a film in a movie theatre. It’s a fantastic ritual that society has embraced, the idea of coming together in a massive darkened room, to share in the telling of a story. I think screening online is great for short films though as they rarely get to be in those movie theatres, and the web allows them to be disseminated to a much larger audience. To be honest, as much Hadley TK-421 won awards in festivals around the world, it was its online debut that changed everything for me. From that I got signed and was lucky enough to see that there is an audience for what I do. That the stories can actually be told.

And finally, what do you think about EuroIFC?

EuroIFC are the perfect embodiment of what I’m talking about for streaming films- it is an incredible resource that allows the quieter voice to tell their stories with much more volume, to get them out there for people to enjoy and share on.

You can watch the film Hadley TK-421 here.

Find out more about Jonathan Reid-Edwards projects and contacts here.

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