When Dreams Meet Reality: Interview with Filmmaker Mandi Edwards

This article was originally published on May 12, 2018 on Cinephile's former website.

Mandi Edwards is a fellow independent filmmaker based in the UK. I had the pleasure of recently interviewing her for Cinephile's first Artist Talk.

CP: Hey Mandi, how are you doing? It’s been a while hasn’t it? The last time I saw you it was at your screening at UNCW for your documentary Guns in the House.

ME: Hey Sheena, I’m doing great, it meant so much to me that you made that screening!

CP: How was the festival run for that piece? Do you feel it made an impact on people? Did it fulfill a goal you were aiming for? I remember the screening at King Hall and the audience discussion was so great afterwards.

ME: It was actually short-lived. Guns In The House didn’t seem to have the same interest in the UK. This was my first documentary out of school, so it definitely had some flaws. The project was a huge learning curve for me as a filmmaker.

CP: How did you get your start making films?

ME: I joined a media production class in college, of which the filmmaking part was the most appealing to me. I then went onto do a degree of a similar elk, but unfortunately filmmaking was a small segment of many, so we turned into “Jack of All Trade’s” as it were.

CP: Is there a certain genre that you like to create most?

ME: Observational documentary.

CP: Oh yeah, I saw you filmed another documentary called Mr. Joeby. Tell me about that film.

ME: I had an idea to find and present fascinating characters in my local area, I live in the smallest city in England, so I wanted to show off our little town and its people. I’d known about Mr. Joeby for a little while, and suddenly discovered his wealth of skill in the airbrush and sign-painting industry. I was mesmerized by his work and hoped my viewers would be too.

CP: Did this one have a great festival run? ME: Unfortunately, I haven’t quite gotten the knack of achieving a successful festival run due to lack of time and money. My own career aspirations have changed of late, so my film life has now become a passion. I still have unfinished business with this project and may look into community screenings for the summer in the biking community rather than the festival route where you are limited to what you can do with the film outside of submissions.

CP: So, what are you up to now?

ME: I currently am a cook at a quirky local cafe! I have found a great love for cooking and working in the catering industry, I’m soaking up knowledge about small independent businesses currently and have aspirations to own my own restaurant one day.

CP: In the UK, do you find yourself having major support when it comes to filmmaking where you are?

ME: Due to my location, little happens here in terms of the film world. I tried to chase a career a few years ago in a nearby city but found the atmosphere of that network jarring and cliquey. As my film friends live all over the world I struggle to motivate myself a lot of the time! Home is nothing compared to the support I had at the Cucalorus creative residency.

CP: We were both artist in residence at the Pink House, along with Jen West, sponsored by Cucalorus. Would you say that programs like Cucalorus artist in residence program is valuable to filmmakers across all genres?

ME: 100% absolutely. The best thing about the residency was that you had the support of the mentors on campus when needed yet were equally given the time and space to bring a project to completion. The community aspect of Cucalorus is really something special that I miss very much.

CP: How is your relationship with film? Let me clarify, I tend to get antsy when I can’t execute an idea right way, due to things like lack of funds. Would that be the same for you?

ME: Totally! I have never cracked the ‘making money’ side of filmmaking, or indeed acquiring financial support to back me through grants etc. As a result, I ended up buying my own equipment which isn't cheap and relying on the kindness of talented friends to help. I work totally with skeleton crews - usually just 2 of us! It’s frustrating, but also challenging in a positive way.

CP: When you find yourself with a new idea how do you approach it to start a new project?

ME: I talk to my few filmy friends here, get their feedback, discuss. If it seems viable, I reach out to the subject and propose the project. If I then get the go ahead, it usually picks up momentum pretty fast and we’re shooting before you know it! I try not to use to strict a shot list, as real life is unpredictable, and the project can take unexpected turns.

CP: Is there any advice you’d like to give upcoming filmmakers? Or people who dream to be a filmmaker one day?

ME: Don’t give up, and work hard. I think I failed at the latter, I could have worked much harder than I did to ensure a career in this industry. If I’d have been told about all the work I’d do in America back in school, I wouldn’t have believed it in a million years. I’m so grateful for my experience with Cucalorus for fulfilling my dream of having my work shown and appreciated on the big screen.

CP: Thank you so much for giving me some of your time to pick your brain. Is there anything else you’d like to add? ME: I’d just like to say thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts, you’ve inspired me to fire up Premiere Pro!

To see more information about Mandi and to view her films visit:

Website - https://littletantrumfilms.com/

Film Projects: https://vimeo.com/liltantrumfilms

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