I had the chance to sit down with Daniel Alexander Kershaw, the writer/director and producer of Midwinter, a proof of concept for what will eventually be (fingers crossed) a feature-length film.
Getting started in movies in no simple matter. There are so many people out there who want to do it, but so few people ever get the chancer or are brave enough to actually go out there and make a movie. That’s why I’ve always been so full of admiration for independent filmmakers.
Here on Small Screen we’ve tried to champion more independent films – films like Ingrid Goes West – but they do end up getting overshadowed by the big, Justice League-esc blockbuster. Well, I say no more. We’re going to be starting a series of interviews with young filmmakers who are going out into the wild and making their own movies. So, behold the inaugural article of a series of interviews I’m going to originally call, Indie Movie Interviews.
My first victim in this series of interviews is writer/director and producer (yes, he’s a triple threat), Daniel Alexander Kershaw. He’s about to start shooting his short film Midwinter, which will be a proof of concept for what will hopefully be a feature film. You can read our full interview with Daniel below.
Can you start off by explaining to us the premise of Midwinter?
Basically, Midwinter is a proof of concept for a feature film I will be starting at the end of the year, with the intention of shooting in 2019.
This short is a modern noir following the harrowing story of a young girl’s disappearance when hunting with her uncle, and his uncompromising revenge on those he believes to be the perpetrators.
The feature picks this story up a year later, with our lead having become a poacher due to the local belief that he killed his niece, having lost the trust of the local community. The drama will follow his obsession with discovering the truth behind her disappearance, whilst his sister works to find out his true part in the loss of her daughter.
Can you describe Midwinter’s plot in 10 words or less?
A deer hunter seeks revenge after his niece goes missing.
Why did you choose to shoot in Devon?
The most basic way of putting it is that I grew up in North Devon, which has lead to a long-term fascination with the area, a place with stories that have rarely been presented in cinema.
Due to my family having moved into the area I never really felt a true part of ‘the scenery’ as it were.
The place is very human, I guess due to many reasons, but most significantly for being away from the issues of the rest of the country. There is an honesty to Devon and the people who live there, be that in a beautiful way, and a potentially dangerous way. People deal with problems themselves, in their own way you know.
This was why I chose to observe a story that explores the entire scale of small-town life, be that both in its overwhelming community support and the risks of mislead paranoia that can become present.
How long is your shoot?
We are shooting for four days at the beginning of March in various locals around the North Devon area.
I have absolutely no idea how difficult it must be to get an independent movie off the ground. How tough (or easy) was it to find funding and get this project started?
To put it simply, we’ve been working pretty hard on this film for near enough a year now. I’ll be honest by saying that in that time the film’s status has gone through various changes, significant rewrites and everything, and we have been distracted with other work, another upcoming film me and DOP Csaba made in New York being a good example, but that’s just been how this one has gone.
It’s a very ambitious project, which has taken a great deal of work, by a great deal of people, to get to this very exciting position.
Starting short, independent films is extremely difficult, with finding funding sometimes seeming like a gargantuan task.
We are still in the process of funding this film, even two weeks before we begin shooting.
Luckily for me, I have a lot of people that believe in this project, and that very much is the only way that films like this can get started.
OK, time for some nerdy talk. What are you shooting on and which cameras will you be using?
So my closest business partner in filmmaking happens to be the Director of Photography Csaba Kondor, after having worked together for five years now I’m pretty climatised to the nerdy talk
It’s extremely exciting to say that we are shooting the film on 16mm Kodak film with Arri Camera systems, most probably the SR3.
We have this extremely lucky opportunity due to the unbelievable support of both Kodak and Arri.
What excites you the most about Midwinter?
The aspect that excites me most about this production is the noir aspect/inspiration. I really miss good genre films, and that is exactly what we are taking more inspiration from. This film will be very honest, and true to the subject matter, but hopefully, also a film people enjoy watching. I feel that this film has the potential to be very moving, presenting a very dark but emotionally complex story. There isn’t really anyone who is truly good in this story, every character having their own complicated agendas.
Of course working with the crew, who are just all incredibly talented filmmakers, and the local cast and people of Devon for the second time, following my last film The Parting Glass, is extremely exciting in its own right. It never ceases to amaze me how hard people will work on a project they truly believe in, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone putting their time into it.
Although Directors seem to get so much attention for their work in filmmaking I truly believe that the credit should go to the people who actually ‘do it,’ if you get me?
What are your aspirations for Midwinter?
Very simply, as widespread results as possible. We really believe in this story and to me, I feel that the film has a very strong chance of being shown at festivals globally, and hopefully picking up as much of a following as possible. The great thing about that is it will ensure as many people see the beginning of this story as we can get.
I know it seems silly to state such success at this point, before having even shot the film, but what’s the point in only aiming low right.
It’s our job as filmmakers to ensure this film the strongest outcome possible, too many people have helped and invested already to let down.
Where can people go if they want to contribute to the making of Midwinter?
Our Indiegogo page really, where potential funders can see even more information on the film, get constant updates on the funding progress and check out some of the really great perks we can give for particular funding
And finally, what’s next?
Well once this film is being run through it’s pre-assembly in post, the first cut and all that, I’ll put my attention to the edit of a film me and Csaba shot in New York last year, which has been in post for a couple of months now.
Then from there, we will push this film through the festival circuit, running as many screenings and everything as possible, in order to raise awareness for and get started on the feature film its prequel to.
We’ll most probably find some smaller scale work to keep us occupied within that time as well!
You can follow Midwinter on Facebook and Instagram and make sure to check out their Indiegogo page and back it if you like the sound of the movie. It’s so vital to keep the independent movie scene alive and give filmmakers like Daniel the chance to make something truly special.