Academy director Seb Edwards’ work is always beautifully paced and sensitively filmed even if it is a disturbing spot following drivers around Dublin as they encounter some near misses for Ireland’s Road Safety Authority, or chasing a legion of cyclists in night-time Warsaw for HTC.
There’s also his subtle but emotional music video for James Blake as well as a bare-knuckle belter about the Brazilian boxing champion Roberto Custódio in the favelas of Rio and the very brilliant Waiting to Happen for COI Army which won a slew of awards. You can see all of these in Related Content but here we catch up with Edwards about his latest film, Farmer’s Lad.
The casting is spot on, was it difficult finding the right characters? How much preparation and rehearsals did you need with them?
The challenge was to find the right kid. I wanted him to be shy but have a determined spirit. Most of the people we looked out were too ‘stage school’, but we found this kid in Glasgow. I think he’s great. Once we found the kid it was easier to cast the parents. The father is a very good Welsh actor who has a strong physical presence and the mother looked freakishly like the boy. We didn’t rehearse.
We’re guessing you didn’t need weather insurance? The relentless rain looks incredibly challenging to shoot in, was it? Did it rain on cue or did you have to bring in the machines?
I wanted the film to look grey and bleak to intensify the boy’s challenge, so we used rain/wind/mist effects. We were quite lucky with the weather. It was suitably terrible.
Drab and grey and northern it looks but the lighting is warm and wonderful. How did you achieve this?
We created an earthy palate with the art direction, wardrobe and location choices. Mattias then shaped the light to create the right atmosphere.
Have you worked with the dp Matthias Montero on other projects?
I’ve shot a number of projects with him including a short film. He’s an old friend and a very talented DOP.
What was the most challenging part of the production?
Time & budget versus ambition I guess. Nothing new there. I suppose the added pressure of restricted child hours made it even more challenging. Also the health & safety laws relating to children on farms was very limiting. A boy of 12 cannot even be a passenger in a traktor, but they can drive them unaccompanied at 13??
Did you storyboard every scene in detail and did the final film turn out as you expected or were there some spontaneous elements you incorporated into the film?
I think there’s always a bit of both. You need to go in with a plan, but there is always a danger in over-preparing especially when working with kids. I think you need to follow your instincts on the day and always have a plan B.
We had our wrap party on the train back to London. Good times!
Hovis, Farmer’s Lad
Prod Co – Academy Films
Dir – Seb Edwards
Prod – Dom Thomas
Agency – Dare
Creative Director – Danny Brooke-Taylor
Creatives – Danny Hunt / Gavin Torrance
DOP – Matthias Montero
Editor – Sam Rice-Edwards@ The Assembly Rooms
RSA, On the Road
Director: Seb Edwards
Creative Director: Dylan Cotter
Art Director: Catherine Lennon
Copywriter: Dillon Elliott
Producer: Dom Thomas
DoP: Marcel Zyskind
Agency Producer: Noel Byrne