Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed filmmaker Winifred Hewitt-Wright about her filmmaking career and style, what inspires her, and the film she is currently working on.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Winifred, I’m an English Literature graduate now working as a marketing executive in London. I love filming, reading, writing, yoga, and going out. For me, anything that encourages mindfulness is a blessing.
When did you first realise you wanted to make films?
This may seem like a cliche, but watching Stanley Kubrick’s films changed my life. It kind of made it possible for me to view film as something I could do – because I felt I understood it. I love a ‘show, not tell’ story and his are exactly that.
What is your favourite thing about films?
Films are life. Sometimes they even seem more like life than life. You feel infinite watching them, you feel like life can be so neatly tied up like a film can – at least in the moment.
What classes or research did you take to support you in your filmmaking career?
I wouldn’t call it ‘research’, but watching as many films as possible helps. I remember my screenplay/ film tutor at University once telling me that actually, it’s better when you don’t ‘know’ anything about it. Films sometimes turn out better when you know nothing about ‘film’ as a concept.
What was your first film industry job?
Screenwriter for a short film named On the Wall, filmed last year.
What was your most recent film industry job?
Same as above.
Tell me a favourite experience in your career. Something that stands out in your memories and makes you want to find more experiences like it.
There isn’t a stand-out moment or experience, because film and the thought of filming and creating is always in my mind. It’s more like a veil falling over me. When I get the perfect shot, that’s what makes me want to get another perfect shot (and by perfect, I mean it perfectly captures a moment or feeling).
What was your toughest experience in your filmmaking career?
Honestly, screenwriting for my short film was quite an arduous process. I had a team around me, all with different roles which sometimes felt like they conflicted. For example, when making a film you often have more practical-minded individuals like the producers and cinematographers, who can conflict with the imaginations of screenwriters and directors. It’s all about sharing a vision, and sometimes it is hard to get such a large group completely in the right headspace to make the film that needs to be made at the right time.
What is the title of your current project?
I don’t have a title currently, I usually get most, if not all, my footage together and go off feeling to think of a title. A bottom-up rather than top-down approach. I think it gives you more of an opportunity to ensure neatness. By neatness I mean, when you see a title before watching a film or reading a book, it doesn’t have much weight to it, it’s just a word, but once the credits have rolled or once all the pages have been turned, when you revisit what it all means – that title should mean something, take on new meanings, and now have a depth to it that it never had before. It should make sense, and that should feel good.
What inspired you to make this film?
I think because the films that I make at the moment are collections of personal moments, what inspires me is the thought of the future, and dreams of purpose. I think documenting life gives life more shape. Creating films this way is like packaging up time, a time in your life, and giving you the ability to find meaning in it, and enjoying the purpose of making something beautiful out of supposedly, nothing.
What is the main conflict of your film?
My films don’t have a narrative in the traditional sense of the word, I’d say they have more of a rhythm. Any conflict that arises from my film must have been perceived from a viewer’s perspective rather than being inherently or obviously there.
How long did you spend in production?
For my most recent short, I put it together independently. Filming over a couple of months, a few times a week, sometimes once a day.
How long did you spend in post production?
Editing can take 1-2 days of solid staring-at-a-screen.
Did you work with a writer, or write the film yourself? Would you do the same again?
I have written films/ screenplays before and I love it, and of course, I will do it again. For the moment though I have just been putting footage together rather than constructing a narrative.
How did you find your cast and what made you choose them?
Again, for my more recent films, there is no set cast because I am just filming certain moments. My cast is me, my friends, and strangers. For the short film I did with a production team, we had a couple of days of castings. It was during a lockdown, so we could only see the actor’s tapes and performances through a screen which proved more difficult, but we still found some great options. We chose our main character, strangely, because she lacked experience, so we thought it would bring more rawness to the role.
How big was your crew? Would you choose the same size again?
For the short film I did last year, our crew was just over 10 people I believe. For me though, I either prefer working independently or with a couple of trusted friends.
How did you find your locations?
We found our locations with much difficulty. Mostly driving around London, finding streets that looked right, then putting leaflets through doors until we heard back from someone.
Tell me some career goals. What would you like to achieve?
I’d like to do a feature one day, adapted from my own novel, directed, written and edited by me.
Tell me something you were surprised by, something you had never realised about being a filmmaker.
The conflict between your imagination and practicality can be a hard pill to swallow. However, I think practical limitations can actually be a good thing. If you can’t write or film a good story based in one room, then you aren’t a writer or a filmmaker at all.
What are words of advice you have for other aspiring filmmakers?
If you see beauty in everyday life, you are a filmmaker. If you film the sky, a light turning on and off, your friend reaching to the ceiling in joy on the dancefloor, you are a filmmaker. Start by filming things you find beautiful, paying no mind, and you’ll get there.
Give me your social links so people can come and find you!
Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/user94578629
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/winifred.alice/?hl=en