As the nightmare scenario unravels in Adam Sparks‘ Like Glass your drags closer to the screen. It was screened at the English Riviera Film Festival, and we caught up with Adam to talk pace, performance and purpose.
Like Glass follows Kira as she wakes in an abandoned wasteland. ‘She is severely injured and has no idea how she got there. As she struggles to fight the elements and stay alive, strange events begin to unfold that force her to confront a frightening possibility’.
D&CFilm: Where did the idea for Like Glass come from?
Adam Spinks: I was meant to be focussing on some last minute reshoots on a short film I directed called ‘Imagineer’ when this idea about a girl finding an abandoned car in the middle of nowhere, with a body inside just seemed to drop into my head during a storyboarding session on the other project. I loved how many questions I started to ask and how many opportunities there were for interesting approaches.
I’d wanted to work with Thérésa Hedges for a long time and this story just seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine our approaches. She came on board and we spent the better part of a month just discussing the story and how to approach this concept.
It evolved a lot in those conversations, as we drilled down into what the film was actually going to be about and when Thérésa handed me her first draft I was floored. I knew this was going to be my next project and we fast tracked it to shoot before the end of the winter.
D&CFilm: When you described three films that inspired Like Glass for
Horror Talk, you said you would only direct a film if you had a strength of point of view. Can you expand on that. And how did that apply for Like Glass?
Adam Spinks: A director without a point of view is, in my mind, just a technician. There’s far too many technicians out there and far too much filmmaking by committee as well.
‘A director without a point of view is just a technician’
I’ve worked on projects where I’ve struggled to voice my point of view and also some where I’ve struggled to really connect with the subject matter, so now it’s very important to me that I make the stories that are right for me.
It’s taken me a few years to really work out what that is and to listen to my instincts, it’s very easy to say yes!
I have a theory that you could give 12 directors the exact same script and get 12 very different movies depending on their individual voices and points of view. I felt that from the very moment where the idea started to form, I had a very clear vision for Like Glass and I’m so proud of how it turned out.
D&CFilm: You also mentioned in Horror Talk, the aspects of visual storytelling the film – visually, where do you take your cues from?
Adam Spinks: Like Glass has a very unique visual style in my opinion, which I cannot possibly allow myself to take credit for.
The co-cinematographers Markus Dell and Rushil Choudhary were completely in sync with one another and with the story as we’d all discussed it.
It was absolutely beautiful to watch them work on set, I’ve actually never been less involved physically with the camera on one of my pictures before. Their total togetherness and preparedness freed me up to work with the actors much more, which was great.
Visually cues from films like Arrival and Monsters
Visually we took our cues from films like Arrival, which I think it’s absolutely outstanding, as well as British indie sci-fi Monsters. There’s also some influences from European filmmakers in there as well which is something Markus felt passionately would support our storytelling and something Markus really spearheaded in our shot selections.
D&CFilm: What are the challenges of directing actors when dialogue is spare down?
Adam Spinks: When you’re working with two amazing actors like Emily and Abigail, the challenge for us has been in editing the film! We had so many great takes and performances, interesting takes on scenes and ideas we’d workshopped that the edit was the most excruciating part because not all of them could make it. Our first cut was 22 minutes and it was all good!
The challenge I suppose can be that you’ve got to be very prepared and you’ve got to know your story inside out and back to front to ensure your shot selections are supporting the actors in furthering the narrative in each and every moment.
Emily’s gift I think, as a performer, is that she’s able to carry the weight of the story through the smallest expressions and actions, she’s instinctively able to know what needs to be expressed in each scene and is meticulous in her approach.
D&CFilm: As a filmmaker, what’s the attraction of working on a short as opposed to a feature?
Adam Spinks: Making a short film is not easy! Shorts are, in a lot of ways, much harder than features because of the time constraints. It can be a tough balance and I haven’t always been able to get it right! A good short film should be simple, elegant even in it’s storytelling whereas in features you get more time, you can go ‘deeper’ into all of your worlds and opportunities.
‘Shorts are, in a lot of ways, much harder than features’
My short ‘Imagineer’ was a massive challenge and a constant push and pull creatively to find a balance and I’m still not 100% sure the project ever found it’s surest footing. Imagineer took about as much time and effort, dedication and perseverance as either of the two features I’ve done, so it’s not necessarily a quick or easy process as some ‘gurus’ make it out to be!
Take a break buy us a coffee
I love working in both mediums and my next project is shaping up to be a feature which I’m very much looking forward to. I’m reuniting with Thérésa Hedges and most of the Like Glass team for a film called ‘Aurora’ which we’re in the process of casting now, so fingers crossed that starts shooting next Summer!
D&CFilm: Thanks Adam and good luck with Aurora!