Rosie Bird Smith
Your 1.4 Award-winning short “Herd Immunity” is a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek take on fake news during the pandemic. How did you find lockdown affected your creative outlook?
After a brief stint of moping, I actually realised how much more productive I was during lockdown… I started churning out more than I had done before and what I was churning out was more considered. And I think, it was all down to a newfound inability to spend all day walking round the office and chatting.
Lambs to the (s)laughter: on set with Jonny Freeman
Tell us a bit about the process of shooting “Herd Immunity”. Did you encounter any challenges during production? Did you find the sheep receptive to your directing notes?
Just a few… we lost our sheep five days before the shoot due to the fact that they didn’t have film licenses (hilarious) and so had to call on sheep from Lincoln that had been in Star Wars. Proper professionals. Mostly they didn’t do a thing we wanted them to, but that always made for funnier moments. As you can probably tell, the sheep wasn’t supposed to jump into the bath with our protagonist and nearly castrate him in the process, but where would we be without that bit of quality improv? They also defecate more than I ever thought possible, but that all just added to the authenticity…
On set with Rosa Marie Lewis for The Real Self Checkout
You started out as a creative, and now have many strings to your bow. What was your route into the industry?
A pretty straight one really. English lit at uni set me up quite nicely as a writer. And then after a longish stint of watching directors at work, it was just a realisation that I was more annoying giving direction x5 times removed from the agency corner than I would be if I was just giving it myself. I also just fell in love with it and needed to make it happen because it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do mushed into one job role – a job role I hadn’t even thought about as an option for me until a couple of years ago.
With your extensive experience as a writer, how easy has the side-step into directing been for you? What have you learnt about writing from directing your own material?
Easier than I thought! Mainly thanks to a brilliant network of chums. And I was surprised at just how well being a writer prepares you for directing. I think I always thought it was a wild career shift, but actually they’re not too dissimilar and it’s a pretty well trodden path. In terms of writing – I’ve learnt that the clearer the idea, the better. A director can bring a lot to a script, but they can’t change the whole concept (not every time anyway).
You’ve got a particular knack for comedy. Has finding the funny side of life always come naturally to you?
I wouldn’t say I’m hilariously funny as a person. Bit weird and quirky perhaps and love to recount a good story with a tendency to exaggerate a little.. but definitely not a one liner kinda girl. But the kind of comedy I love and want to make is much more about awkwardness, brutal honesty and uncomfortable silences – and I’m highly experienced in all those things.
Which commercials from your childhood stick out in your memory, and why? And which recent commercial has caught your eye?
On location, Herd Immunity
Having just signed with Biscuit Filmworks, and with many commercials under your belt, are you intending to stay in the advertising world or branch out into other filmmaking formats?
Adverts are great and I’m sure I’ll be making them for years to come – they’re short films in their own right and when the right idea and the right team of people come together, you can use the medium film to communicate to the masses. But I’d be lying if I said adverts were all I had my eye on.
What’s next for you? Anything else you’d like to mention?
Another equally as (if not more so) bizarre short film about the eggs in my ovaries. And hopefully the beginnings of a limited series that has been bubbling for a while. As well as the start of an exciting path with the team at Biscuit – whom I’m incredibly grateful to for inviting me to join their talented crew. Excited to get going.
Interview by Becca Nichols
Rosie Bird Smith website
Written and Directed by Rosie May Bird Smith
Organisers: Papaya Young Creators
Sponsor Company: Onet
Project Coordinator: Beata Krupa
Project Lead: Kasia Siewko
Creative Director at Papaya Films: Marta Frączek
Co-Production Company: Havas Studios
Global Head of Content / EP: Katie Keith
Executive Producer: Flo Clive
Executive Producer: Adam Javes
Producer & 1st AD: Femi Anderson
Production Manager: Ella Higgins
Production Assistant: Kaci Njemanze
Post Producer: Debbie Ragasa
Casting: Emma Garrett, Anna Lydon - Garrett Casting
DOP: Mike Staniforth