Shaun James Grant’s live-action short film Hope focuses on a couple trying to find peace in an impossible situation. This heart-wrenching film has been screened at this year’s 2021 Manchester Film Festival. We had the pleasure to interview the director and learn how the film came to be.
What inspired you to create a short following such a heart-wrenching story? Was there anything you really wanted to focus or highlight when telling this story?
“The inspiration was two fold. One being the location, somewhere I was curious about for a long time. I’d pass it as I travel from my hometown to London. I always wondered who stopped there, where they were going, what their purpose was. After that came the personal imprint which was facing my worst fears as a parent. Not just with loss but the idea of not knowing how that loss came to pass or if it’s permanent. It’s a near impossible question to deal with. “
How helpful is your experience in commercial content in transitioning into narrative projects – how have you built on your stylistic approach despite tackling disparate themes such as grief and isolation?
“It’s helpful to a degree for sure. Practically, your comfort level being in charge on set is already there. Also your overall technical discipline comes into play too. I would say though narrative calls for a revised creative approach. The pace is different, dialogue and nuance generally hold more weight. I definitely feel like I’m wearing a different hat when working on narrative projects.”
Was the decision to have a French character and incorporate the French language an artistic choice or is it perhaps a comment that the themes presented have a universal relevance?
“It was both. We developed him when we were writing, giving them both a backstory as a couple. it was important to us to know where they came from, how they found each other. We wanted it to feel genuine. On top of that the subject matter for me is a universal topic, it could happen to any parent. I really wanted people watching to get a subconscious sense of this being the case. I also wanted to disorient the audience in a curious way. The language and accent variation helped alongside the location to reinforce the idea of not knowing exactly where they were. “
What were you looking for when it came to casting and portraying created characters?
“Believability is always first. With that comes ability, especially when dealing with nuance. The film was written in a way that so much is said with so few words but it still needed to feel natural. We were looking for a cast that could carry this weight, all whilst remaining understated in their approach. I think they did a great job.”