UKIF 5 minute interview: Adam Spinks

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Adam Spinks

Tell us about yourself, your crew, previous film projects and your current project.

So I started making films in my middle teens, almost as soon as I picked up a camera I started my primitive attempts to tell stories. Officially my first film was one of my A-level pieces, a little trailer for a film we’d never make called “Breaking The Silence”. It was well received at the time and inspired me to start to think about looking to the future. I ended up studying Film at Royal Holloway for three years, where I made a lot of student films and I guess learned some of the skills of the craft… By good fortune I then stayed on an extra year at the University to study Screenwriting at post-graduate level where I wrote my first feature film script.

Time soon began to pass after I graduated and I worked on a few short films with very low budgets, many of them with massively talented people and I began to see the realities of the industry that had never been discussed at University. There truly are masses of talent out there, so much of it… and seemingly not a lot of real big opportunities for that talent. At least not to me. Especially in terms of funding. It was then that I hit upon this idea to produce a literally micro-budget feature film that would be crewed by many of these people I’d met and we’d go against the grain and cast as many people in this film as possible. This project went on to be Survivors, which is now in post-production. I guess I wanted to prove that people are hungry and passionate about what they do and something so simple as access to funding would not stop us expressing that desire. The challenge to make a grand scale horror movie with nothing more than the bare essentials was an incredible experience and one that thankfully everybody on board the project really got into the spirit of achieving. I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved together.

Whilst Survivors is going through the various stages of the editing process, I’ve been drawn back to the Director’s chair by a wonderful screenplay written by Laurence Timms. I hadn’t actually planned on doing anything for a while however when I read the script, I felt a kind of compulsion to tell the story. It’s essentially a short film about a Father suffering with dementia and his Daughter realising the distance that has grown between them due to the condition. The film plays with the idea of reality a lot, utilising a flashback structure but not in a traditional way.

We’ve been working very very closely with advisors to ensure that our portrayal of Dementia in the story is accurate in the screenplay and these advisors are remaining with the project as we gear up for shooting to work with our actors to ensure maximum authenticity in the performances. I’m incredibly excited about how things are progressing with pre-production and, funding pending, we hope to shoot the film this Summer and get it out to festivals later in the year.

Dealing with your current project, why did you decide to go independent with it, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The Song Plays On was certainly a difficult subject to come to terms with the idea of tackling. My fear was that, as a relatively young filmmaker (25) could I bring a maturity to the piece and be taken seriously at the same time. We also developed the script for a very long time, going through around 7/8 drafts of the story before we ended up with the one we’re going to shoot as we want to get it right, we want the film to connect with the people it’s meant for. 800,000 people in the UK are currently living with dementia and that figure is not inclusive of relatives, loved ones and friends who spend their time in the presence of this condition. So it’s fair to say we’ve felt the pressure in terms of getting it right.

I guess we decided to go independent with the project because  of the social nature of the topic we are discussing. Our hope is that we can raise awareness through both the crowd funding campaign we’re running on social media but also through screenings of the film when it’s completed. So the model of crowd funding really stood out for us as the way to spread our message and connect with the people who connect with our story.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding independent film maker, what would it be?

A lot of people talk about being writers, directors, producers… but talking doesn’t make you one. My best piece of advice is grab a camera, grab some video tapes/CF cards/film… and shoot something. Cut it together. Analyse it back and note what works and what doesn’t work… and then repeat this process. I promise you that every time you pick up the camera you will get better at it and start to see results. The more stories you tell, the better you’ll get at telling them!

What film makers or films inspire you?

As a storyteller I guess I always go back to the films I grew up on. Jurassic Park, E.T.. Old Spielberg movies are definitely the best ones but more recently I’ve been really inspired by filmmakers such as Marc Price, who made his debut feature Colin for £45 and screened it at Cannes as well as Gareth Edwards, who directed Factory Farmed as part of the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge… he won the competition and made a feature called Monsters, which was really well received on a budget of £250,000 and now he’s been signed on to direct the Legendary Pictures reboot of Godzilla. Monsters just had such a striking visual that was so inspiring, I encourage everybody who hasn’t seen it to check it out.

Are the current crop of funding platforms (Kickstart etc) working for independent film, or do you believe there needs to be something specifically geared for it?

I think the current crop of funding platforms are working very well, they’re certainly opening doors to filmmakers who would have probably found it incredibly difficult to get funding. I know I wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting a penny to make Survivors so I reached out to the community and they responded. I do think that over-saturation could become a problem and that crowd funding campaigns need to be carefully considered.

Independent film is starting to grow quickly across the world, where do you see your place in it in the future? Will you continue to make independent films or do you see it as a springboard making industry sponsored films?

It’s really hard to tell to be honest. I think we’re all lying if we said we want to make low budget movies forever… I think the goal is a big budget to make the film we’ve always dreamed about and it just so happens the place with a lot of the money is in Hollywood. I guess I hope to make interesting and entertaining films that people enjoy and that satisfy me creatively.


Thank you Adam.

Please consider following Adams projects – links at the top of the interview.

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