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SEPTEMBER 2020: BIRDWATCHER

Written by Isabella Speaight and Laurie Barraclough

Produced by Isabella Speaight Directed by Laurie Barraclough


When we learned that the dream team of director Laurie Barraclough and actor-producer Isabella Speaight were reuniting to create another short film after their successful collaboration on the wonderful Clementines (which you can watch here), we were naturally very excited to see what they would come up with next.


The result is this gorgeous, delicate story of a young girl seeking solace in the form of birdwatching. The short, aptly titled Birdwatcher, is a peaceful and rather uplifting look at the effects of grief and loss, and how the simple things in life can heal us. Made with a low budget, it's impressive to see how this filmmaking team has pulled together to create something rather special, featuring a wonderful lead performance, stunning visuals and a beautiful soundtrack from folk-pop artist Wyldest.

This film sees you join forces with the Backscatter Productions team once again, which is always a good thing. What is it about you guys that makes these collaborations work so wonderfully do you think?

Well one of the founders Bella and I have known each other for years - since I cast her in a student project - and we just really click as an actor and director, as well as friends. There’s a lot of trust there now. Birdwatcher was a total collaboration with Bella from start to finish in that we crafted the film’s rough story and character together, and we improvised almost everything on set, and then she had a huge input on the edit as well. Bella, and her co-founder Molly, are just brilliant and passionate filmmakers; and people in general. They have an amazing drive and they care so much about their stories and their films - and have a great eye for every part of the process. They’re so exciting to work with in that respect and they make space for me to do my best work too. As I said it all comes down to trust at the end of the day. 

You were able to premiere the film on streaming service Paus, which seemed to have gone down a treat. Can you tell us a little bit about using that platform and how it has benefited you?

The Paus premiere was an awesome experience. It was quite strange to premiere a film live online like that, with a relatively large audience that you just couldn’t see. It’s the "new normal" we’re living in, I guess. They’re such champions of new and upcoming filmmakers and they really pushed the film, as well as the idea of tipping the filmmakers. It’s a very exciting prospect, the idea of independent film fans directly contributing to the filmmakers. The budget for Birdwatcher was so small, we actually ended up making a profit from the tips from the evening with Paus, which was pretty insane. Although all profit made has gone straight into the budget for my next film Hey Mother.


Speaking of Hey Mother, a film we are very excited to see you get to work on, why don't you tell the readers what this project is all about? Hey Mother is about a girl who spots a woman she thinks is her lost mother in a car park. She follows her all the way to her home and tries to speak to her. Without giving too much away, it’s a mysterious, deliberately ambiguous film about loss and what it can do to us. We are shooting 4th and 5th September and are crowdfunding until 9th September. I can’t wait to get back to filmmaking after this awful lockdown. It’s only a small production but it's giving eight or so filmmakers a chance to get back to doing what we love. We’ve also managed to secure all equipment and locations for free, so three-quarters of the budget is going on making sure the crew are paid, well-fed and generally looked after for 2 days.

You can support this crowdfunding campaign here.

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