Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I’m based in London and grew up in a working class family and area. Eventually, a lot of my mates started to get into music. So I was surrounded by rappers, and I loved going to the studio with them and watching them create, but I don’t have any musical talent so picking up a camera and filming them on their journeys seemed the right thing to do. That ended up turning into doing their no budget music videos and it just went from there really.
I wasn’t mad for films when I was young or anything like that. That started when I was about 14 or 15, and I’ve done over 200 music promos to date—which is not as impressive as it sounds. They were often a few shot performance based on our estate or in the local park.
How did you get the Drug Runner project?
It was just something that came kinda naturally over time I suppose. The person it’s based on is a friend, and I always just felt like it was a story that was never told—the reasons behind people getting involved in things like drug dealing without making the character a villain—because he was just a normal every day kid.
I love watching docs, but wanted to do something that merged doc and fiction. So it started like that, with me just chatting to a mate now and then—I didn’t think it’d get made really because of the subject matter. But my first short Standby won some support from the BFI and Blackmagic and I pitched it to them, luckily they were down for it!
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
We used an Alexa Mini for Drug Runner. I’m the least techy person in the world, so I couldn’t say much about that choice beyond Arran; the DP making it and it looking okay in the end.
I’m happy to use any gear I really don’t have any essentials. I like everything to be dictated by performances and story so if we’re filming non actors who don’t have much on set experience, I like to keep kit and crew a bit more contained but otherwise it is always just job dependent I suppose. Whether its a 5D or an Alexa, I really don’t mind!
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
Once I’d cut down the interview content and decided on what bits of that to use it was all quite structured, it’s really similar to how it was boarded. Well, to me it is anyway, its really crap scribbly stick men, but in terms of the structure and the order of scenes it was quite literal and easy to do in the edit as it had to work around that interview. Though I will say before it had sound design and music it was an absolutely shocking (bad) film. The sound design Michael Ling did and the score Patrick Jonsson did is really what drove the narrative. The transitions everything felt super unnatural before those sound cues.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
I really wouldn’t know. Sorry! I have been so un-inspirational haven’t I!
I just like to work with people that I know I can fully trust and I think trust is something that takes a while to come around in a working relationship, it takes a few projects to have that. I have always wanted to find a team and stick with that.
I always work with my composer Patrick, on every project and it just creates a great space where you can kind of bounce off one another well and intuitively know whats right for the work. Patrick always creates music that is better than what I imagined it being. And its the same with other relationships.
I work a lot with a producer Theo Barrowclough and we have a similar story taste I suppose, but at the same time there’s enough trust where you can challenge each others’ ideas. I think the more people you have around you who can do that the better the project will always be as the films, promos, whatever it is you are making, is being made by an entire team of people who specialise in their role and know it 10x better than you ever could. So if you just trust them and their taste it’ll take the work to new places. Cheesy innit?
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
I don’t think I’d do anything different as I worry I wouldn’t have met the people I did!
I suppose I would of made more earlier on, and not have been so precious with who I showed my scripts to or who I sent the films out to. Would of just got over myself a bit really! We are all going to make some crap work and its such a waste of time spending weeks, months being sad about that and all the festival rejections.
What’s the one secret tip, go-to trick that you use often that takes your work to the next level?
Haha! I wish I had one!! I think its just the people I work with, honestly, they are the best. I’m not saying that to be nice because most of them wouldn’t read this even if I asked them to. But its the Patrick’s and the Theo’s and the Ore’s and the people who support you and the work and bring it to that next level.
Whether that’s practical help on set, creative notes… everything! Knucklehead have been helping loads with my short form projects and having those people around you who will give you honest feedback is invaluable. Other than that, ask every HOD their favourite snack before shooting, write it down then buy it and bring it to set—happiness all round.
What has been the hardest part of doing what you do?
I am a really moany person in general (temperature of a cup of tea, the weather, comfort level of a pair of trainers), but struggling to think of one for this.
I suppose it’s finding those people that you trust. To get to those people you have to go through projects where you perhaps aren’t in sync with your team or crew and that can be a struggle when you are all creatively going towards something different.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
I love everything about it. I’m not just being cheesy. I really do feel mad grateful to be able to work in this industry.
I love how there’s all these different processes, one day you’re location scouting in old east end pubs, and the next day you’re on a set with a lot of people you love working with, and the next day you’re in an edit. I just love that process, I like how you’re never in one of the stages long enough to get restless. Working with actors is probably one of my favourite parts of any job, the casting and the work on set. It just makes you adapt to a different persons process each time which is great, I feel like there is so much to learn job to job.
What are some of your favorite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
I saw this music video the other day and have no lie watched it about ten times per day since; its so simple but kind of beautiful and just yeah, I am feeling mad inspired by it right now.
Where can people follow your work?
Despite not being very techy I have mastered the art of occasionally updating my very basic template website: https://www.charlottereganfilm.com/.
I’m also making a new short at the moment with DMC through Vero so we’ll be releasing a new project and BTS stuff on that soon too. If you want really crap videos of me doing kick-ups, uninspiring pictures of the cats I see near my house, and the occasional film post that is the place to go.