Back in 2016 Alex Falconer wowed the film world with his short Synthetica. Now he’s released the intensely personal Escape. Based on his life and inspired by his mum the film is being screened at The Poly, Falmouth in the Cornwall Film Festival.
We caught up with Alex to find out how the film came to be made, and how he approached his own story.
D&CFilm: How did Escape come about and what attracts you to a story?
Alex Falconer: I wrote Escape in early 2017, I’d wanted to write about my own childhood experience for some time but until last year I felt I wasn’t ready to do so.
Analysing and understanding my childhood
I felt compelled to make it for two reasons, firstly as a way of analysing and understanding my childhood, why my Dad was the way he was and how it affected my family.
Secondly because my Mum is a support worker with victims of domestic abuse, she is truly an incredible woman who has survived a domestic abuse relationship and used that experience to support and help other women escape their suffering, despite the budget cuts and useless management personnel.
I’m attracted to stories that tackle difficult subjects, complex people and overall try to instill empathy in audiences. Put simply I’m interested in learning how the bad guy became the bad guy.
D&CFilm: Escape features ‘the last day of an abusive relationship and a mother’s struggle to free her children from it’.
How did you approach the subject matter? How does the look and feel convey the relationships and what were the considerations working with the actors for such a story?
Alex Falconer: As the subject matter is based on my own experiences I wrote extremely detailed character profiles and made sure that whoever I cast could trust that I knew exactly what I was talking about.
Extremely sensitive subject matter
We’re dealing with extremely sensitive subject matter and asking the actors to things that are potentially distressing, so trust and openness were extremely important.
We only had two 9-hour days to shoot the film and no budget so I the look of the films was kept extremely meek and simple, we used a lot of natural light and based a lot of how it all looked on 60s/70s British kitchen sink dramas.
D&CFilm: Back in 2015 you told The Skinny “I make film because it is the perfect vessel to express all of my thoughts and opinions to a wide audience, critique the world around me and start conversations.”
Is that still the way you see your filmmaking and have the conversations you want to start changed?
Problems created by the system
Alex Falconer: Absolutely, it’s still the way I see my filmmaking. In terms of the conversation I want to start I think I’ve switched from trying to tell a film which critiques our destructive societal system and how it is the source of all our problems and moved to telling stories about problems which are created and exasperated by the system we live in.
D&CFilm: You say you hope Escape is the platform to the next phase of your career. Is there an Escape feature planned, and what’s next for you?
Alex Falconer: There isn’t an Escape feature planned, the next step for me is to make either a publicly funded short or a short with a bigger budget than £900. From there who knows, the ambition is to be making feature films but it’s a long process getting there and one I won’t rush.
D&CFilm: Thanks Alex!
Escape is at The Poly on November 10 as part of the Cornwall Film Festival. Get your tickets!