In our regular series, In The Director’s Chair, we interrogate prominent and upcoming film directors to find out more about them and what makes great film and how to capture your audience.
In this episode we quiz upcoming director Jack Benjamin Gill on his latest short – Lambing Season.
Good evening and welcome to North tonight.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the disappearance of Shane Witton. Shane went missing from the market town on Skipton in 1997. He was just 18 months old. Earlier this morning police released composite images of Shane as he would look today age 17.
You won’t look at me, whats the matter?
Tell me the truth! Tell me the truth!
I’m Jack Benjamin Gill and I’m the writer and director of Lambing Season.
On Yorkshire As An Influence
It’s informed my writing being from Yorkshire. It’s more about writing about what you know. I mean you don’t have to but I think it’s always a good place to start, I think. And when we were developing lambing season. The log line of the story could have been set anything, the kind of this thriller aspect, this stolen child could have been anywhere.
But the fact that I have this rooting in Yorkshire and I have this understanding of farming and the connotations of birth came into play. It was kind of the only reason that made me pursue it any further cause it could have been this very on the nose genre piece. But it became very poetic because I could put something of myself into it.
On Making It Happen
So I had been writing and developing it, I actually pitched it to Loran Dunn, the producer just in a pub, just through the log line and she got very excited about it and then started working on the script with Loran. She’s a good sounding board basically as a producer so there is no active writing involved but there is a lot of “must try harder” being thrown back at you. And heighten this scene and “can we work on this” that goes on. So She’s great to bounce ideas off. So I continue to write it alongside Loran and then we got it into a position where we could pitch it to Creative England as part of the ishorts Scheme, it was ishorts 3. So it was the third year they ran the scheme. So we pitched that and we got it.
They awarded us £5,000 funding and part of the parcel with ishorts is that you then have to then crowdfund. So we then ran a crowdfunding campaign and we raised a further £4,000. I think we ended up with a stretch target of £9,000 altogether with their money included. So, yea.
We went ahead and filmed it from there. We did a little bit more research and a little bit more development after the pitching just to get the script together. Visiting the farms, visiting the locations kind of developing the script as we did pre-production. It was a long process. Took about a year to get the whole thing from the little log line going ping in your head to being stood on a set actually filming the thing.
On Working With The Crew
Taking the crew out there and them kind of being a little bit isolated and being a little bit freaked out by the landscape and really a lot of them were inexperienced when it came to the process of farming. So I think it was a shock for a lot of people to see a lambing birth on scene which is what we actually filmed.
We’ve done a few screenings of it now and on a big screen it’s quite visceral scene a lamb being pulled out of a ewe. But basically people, its a very foreign world to a lot of the crew we brought over there which kind of heightened it and gave it an atmosphere. And felt like everyone was involved with something that was actually as dark as the script intended it to be.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a comedy. I don’t think at this point I ever will.
I’m trying to find lighter moments in the stuff that I write but my main critic is my Mum telling me to write lighthearted and she’s wondering whats wrong with me. Some dark soul apparently.
On The Future
There’s always the interest of doing something outside of narrative work. But really it’s always the story that draws me to, drives me to any idea. Directorial flourishes, or kind of ideas I have or things that would kind of have some sort of artistic merit tend to come out of storytelling anyway. I can’t see myself trying to develop anything outside of that, I don’t think.
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