L-R: Noor Franssen(Director/Writer), Kate Reader (Producer)

As Beat to the Windward premieres this week, Newspaper News Editor, Ruby Lyle talks to Noor Franssen, the director of KTV’s newest production about what it was like directing and writing her first ever short film…

Q. How did you find the experience of writing of Beat to Windward?

A. Being the writer of Beat to Windward wasn’t half as stressful or challenging as being the director. I wrote the script for the module Introduction to Screenwriting and had feedback throughout the process. All I needed was the idea, which came to me on the way back from a trip to a film festival in York during October. I was sat in the back of the car while my two friends were sat in the front, and I couldn’t hear their conversation. I got the same sense of constant movement that is described in the film and within half an hour the story was pretty much formed in my head.

Q. Sounds like you enjoyed writing it, was this your debut or have you been involved with a KTV production before?

A. Being the director was a very exciting adventure. It was not my first KTV production as I’d been involved in the filming of Cookbook and Aran’s A Dream for the Dead before, but I had never directed a short film before and it did really feel like I was diving head first into what could have been a disaster, but I had a fantastic team of people with me who helped lift the project up and above anything we thought we could achieve at the time.

I think because I had such a clear idea of what I wanted the film to look like, the directing came sort of naturally to me. It was mostly making sure all the shots that I needed were taken by Tom [Turner, Cinematographer, Camera Operator] and that the actors played out the scene as I wanted it. All of us kind of took on the role of continuity supervisor and things like that, and I trusted Tom’s vision for most of the shots.

For a lot of the car scenes as well, I couldn’t be present during the shooting so I had to make sure during rehearsals and before they took off onto the motorway that they knew exactly what I wanted from them. All in all, I think the laid back attitude of the crew rubbed off onto the actors and relaxed them into the natural performance I needed from them. Most of all it was just a lot of fun and a fantastic learning experience for all of us.


Q. What were your highs and lows of this experience?

A. The highlights were most probably the moments where we knew we’d shot something really good, like the hotel room scene. At the time it already felt great that we were even able to film it in a real hotel, and it was so much fun to do as well. A lot of the chaos from that scene comes from the actors who mostly improvised it. I just told the boys to come in, and then for all of them to start packing their bags and rush out of there. We did about four different takes, and each time Tom got closer to the actors. They all did a fantastic job. And afterwards we knew it’d look really good on screen. That felt great.

Some of the lowlights were the moments where we were pressed for time. After a long day of shooting the film or just going to lectures or work, we’d be on set and we’d be waiting for the right light or something was going horribly wrong, and we’d be so tired. We were often under a lot of pressure to shoot a scene before the light changed or before it got too dark, or just exactly at the right moment, because all the scenes take place over the course of one day.

There was one night specifically, where we had to drive the four main actors, Tom and myself to a petrol station and shoot a scene there at exactly the moment of sunset, and then rush back to shoot a conversation in the car between Aran [Lamond, playing Ben] and Amy [Joyce, playing Laura], and then regroup with Ben [Roberts-Waite, the Male Camper] to film all the scenes in the woods. Because we had only one car it took too long to drive back and we had to reschedule the conversation between Aran and Amy, and we still finished shooting that night at one in the morning. When we finished everyone was really excited because it was the scene where Shaun [Martin, as Elias] got pushed into the water and it was one of our last shoots, but that moment where we all got back to the SMC and knew we were only half way through filming, that was a bit of a low for everyone.


Q.Would you encourage others to get involved with KTV?

A. I would definitely encourage everyone who is interested in even the smallest part of making a film or series to get involved with KTV. Whether its tech, directing, producing, editing or acting you’re interested in, KTV is the gateway to get experience in all of these fields and be a part of fantastic projects. And it’s just so much fun.


Q. Is there anyone in particular you want to give a shout out to?

A. I do want to thank a few people specifically: Lawrence Jackson who was the seminar leader who helped me write the script and who gave the final feedback for the film before it was released, has been a great help. Of course all the actors who were absolutely fantastic and without whom the film would not be half of what it is now. Their performance and skill made my job so much easier. My brother [Titus Franssen], who was kind enough to do the more advanced sound editing for each scene so that we can now actually understand the dialogue. And of course Rob Linton who spent his free time with Tom and myself in his car, chasing Aran on the motorway.

See some of backstage action of Beat to the Windward here…