In Bulldog, writer-director Kieran Stringfellow challenged perceptions for an experimental thriller that pushed him in new directions in a new city.
Bulldog follows a rough sleeper out to settle a score after spending the night in a cell.
Stereotypes and assumptions
“When I first moved to Manchester, it was hard not to notice the homeless crisis in the city. It’s alarming,” says Kieran “I came across a lot of rough sleepers every day and I was quite disappointed about my own stereotypes and assumptions. I was jumping to conclusions about who these people are and the situation that they’re in. So the idea for the film was very much born from my own poor judgment.”
His previous film was a comedy with a lot of dialogue, so Kieran opted for a different style.
“I really wanted to make a film that was completely visually-led.”
With the lack of dialogue, shooting was relatively straight forward and Kieran was able to use the energy to experiment with new styles without worrying about sound.
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We’ve been lucky enough to share lots of great festival news recently and we wanted to give a shout out to @louisjbrogan who’s beautifully subtle performance completely anchors our film. He was a pleasure to work with and everyone who has seen the film so far always comments on how good he was 👏👏 👏 . . . #shortfilm #filmfestival #festivalcircuit #performance
He says: “I had an idea of what I could do with minimal locations and the resources – without compromising on story and cinematic style. Using the camera as the main tool to tell the story rather than dialogue.”
“We were lucky,” he says. “We shot it at the end of last year and then we were editing it at Christmas and into the New Year, and by the time lockdown happened it was March and we were sending it through to the composer.”
Without dialogue, the hardest element of the shoot was gauging how the film would come across to the audience – if it had the right beats. All of the meaning and emotion needed to be conveyed through the sound design and score.
“Once we put together the sound and score with the composer we were relieved to find out that actually worked and made sense,” says Kieran.
In fact, it worked so well that the Bulldog won Best Non-Verbal short at TAKT, along with other awards.
As an experimental thriller, Bulldog is completely different to Kieran’s first film after graduating from Falmouth Uni, Stalemate, a comedy about a family falling out over a board game; but it’s the direction Kieran is looking to pursue.
“In some ways, I’m really finding my feet. But going forward, Bulldog is really the style I want to move into. I am interested in places and characters on the fringes of society. But I guess I’m still laying down what I want to do as a filmmaker,” says Kieran Stringfellow.
“Everyone has different styles and tastes and I love that. First and foremost that’s what you want to do as a filmmaker – you show your style, your side of the story. I am looking for stories that interest me, maybe stories that haven’t been told or haven’t been told in a certain way before.
Stories on screen
“I am always trying to put stories on screen that I don’t think people have seen or characters that maybe haven’t yet seen themselves reflected, and then also you’re trying to do it in interesting ways that push the medium forward as well.”
Bulldog by Kieran Stringfellow is at the English Riviera Film Festival
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