SPENCER SUSSER

How did you get into short filmmaking?

When I was young I loved using my parents’ point and shoot camera to take (what I thought were) unusual pictures of things; people, pets, the sidewalk, pretty much anything that was in front of me. So in other words, I wasted a lot of film. That lead to me using their home video camera and I soon realised that there was nothing more fun than making movies starring my friends and me.  Some of them were ridiculous, some of them were terrible and most of them were both!

Favourite short film of all time?

Well that’s a hard one! I suppose it would be “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. I believe it was made as a short film then turned into a Twilight Zone episode, the only Twilight Zone episode that was not originally made for the show. Another favourite is Woody Allen’s film “Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask”. It’s a short starring Gene Wilder (the greatest actor of all time) where he plays a doctor. In the film a man comes into his office and tells him that he is in love with a sheep. Gene Wilder’s reaction goes on for three minutes and he hardly says a word. I believe it’s the best reaction ever caught on film. Just thinking about it makes me laugh!

Most valued asset onset when making a short film? 

Time.  There’s never enough. Often short films have very little budget and that often means a small crew or sometimes, no crew at all. The best part about having no crew is that no one needs to get home, therefore there’s no rush and you can spend the time getting the film closer to the idea in your head. Having no crew and more time always beats having a full crew and less time. That said it usually doesn’t work out that way. Usually, there is not enough budget and not enough time, which when combined is one of the great challenges of filmmaking.  The truth is the most valuable asset when making a short film or a feature length film is preparation. The more homework you do, the more you can relax and trust your gut on the day.      

Top tip for emerging short filmmakers?

Edit, edit, edit! Movies are made in the edit. The more you start to think from the editor’s chair, the more clearly you will see every other aspect of your film. Try and edit your own stuff, the best way to learn from your mistakes is when you have to deal with them in the edit. I started out as an editor and learned so much from other director’s successes but also their mistakes. However, I still learnt the most from making and dealing with my own mistakes.

Filmmaking is like a language, the more you speak the more naturally it comes. However just when you think you’ve learnt how to speak it, the language changes. Every project is a different language and you’re always learning and re-learning it - that’s the fun of film making. There is so much to know as a director and I don’t mean just the technical side of things as that comes with practice. The director needs to know everything about life and human behaviour. And even still, the best directors are still learning.

In three words, describe your first short film

Not good. VHS.