Silent Night tells the story of a south London hitman Mark who is tempted by ‘one last job’ when he is released from prison. We caught up with the film’s director and south Londoner, Will Thorne. Claire Foster
Tell us about what you do
I’m a film director first and foremost, to give myself an opportunity to direct I have written and produced. People in the industry separate directors from producers by calling them filmmakers but it’s such a collaborative medium, that I think anyone working in film production is a filmmaker.
How did you get into your craft?
I did a week long summer school when I was a teenager that gave me some basic knowledge and the confidence to make a short. I then got into the industry in my early twenties as a runner on commercials and films. I fell into TV and have worked on lots of different types of shows but I was always making shorts and worked on my own ideas independently at the same time.
Who or what inspires you?
I think you can find inspiration everywhere, mainly in people and their stories though I guess. Whether it is a genre film, a drama or a documentary it is the human story that people connect to when they watch, so it’s that same thing that grabs you or that inspires you in the first place, and make you want to explore an idea more.
What is your most memorable piece of work either by you or another creative? / Is there a seminal moment in your life that has made a profound impact on you and your work?
This kinda answers both: There were two films I saw as a teenager that I think really had an effect on me and made me realise what I wanted to do. The first one was Goodfellas, when I saw it and heard the back end of Eric Claptons’ ‘Layla’ over a montage a light bulb lit up in my head that someone must have chosen that track, which lead me to finding out what a director was. Then a couple of years later as I tried educate myself a bit more about film I saw Vertigo by Hitchcock and it blew me away. I was 18 and thought it might have dated really badly so I wasn’t expecting much but it had me gripped and showed me that film can be timeless if done right.
Where can we find your current work
You can buy Silent Night on DVD in most supermarkets now or is on all digitals. I also produced the recent documentary, One Man and His Shoes.
What are your plans for the future?
Hopefully to make lots more films!
What are your favourite #SELondon spots?
Too many to mention but as I used to live on The Cut I would say there, Southbank and Bankside as I have many fond if hazy memories of times in the pub there but also shouts to Greenwich for the weird ‘I could be in a coastal village’ feel while across the river from sky scrapers.
Your latest film was shot around Lambeth, Southwark, Sutton and Croydon – did your local knowledge give you an edge on finding the best locations?
I think so, I certainly already had loads of ideas of places to film in so that helped but there’s always what is in your head and the reality, which is sometimes just not practical with a film crew. Living in Tulse Hill at the time meant I could easily scout around all these areas, even if my first choice location couldn’t work I would’ve driven past somewhere similar or I’d put the word out, if I knew someone lived in a certain area and we needed to get something that way to help our schedule and see if they might have ideas.
Any advice for young/inspiring film makers of the future?
The most important advice I give to others is to get started. It will take much longer than you think so whatever it is you want to do or achieve, find the first step and do it right now! To learn, you have to be making stuff. The shorter the better, as that will be quicker and more achievable then scale up. It can be anything, shot on any camera or equipment it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the result, you will learn so much.
Lastly, try and find like minded people who you get on with at a personal level, when you make films you work long hours and mostly nothing goes to plan, it certainly makes it easier when you go through that with people you get on with.
And just for fun, who would be your ideal fantasy dinner guest?
Tough one, can I have a man and woman for balance? If so Oliver Stone and Nina Simone, just because they’re both a bit mad so I think it would make a fun night, plus perhaps we could get Nina to sing us a song!