Writer/director Muriel d'Ansembourg tells us about the doubts, triumphs and surprises which led her to a BAFTA nomination for her short film, Good Night. She is nominated alongside producer Eva Sigurdardottir.
Good Night is the graduation film for my Masters in Directing at the London Film School. I attended film school quite late in life having already taken my BA in screenwriting and having worked in the field before I found the courage to apply.
Somehow I always imagined film school to be a place no one gets in to and my fear of rejection was so strong that I needed a bit more time to grow a tougher skin. Once at film school I got to make several short films, some more successful than others. The short I shot just before Good Night was the one I was least happy with. And even though I wanted to bury that film as deep as possible in my back yard I decided to torture myself and watch it again and to give myself the best chance of overcoming its shortcomings next time around.
One thing lacking in the previous film that I wanted for Good Night was a sense of dynamism and energy. I tried to find this through encouraging physicality in the actors’ performances. Also by allowing the story to dictate the locations, rather than having location choices limit where the story can go. It’s a great opportunity if you get to learn from your mistakes by actually having the chance to correct them.
"Everyone approaches filmmaking in their own way yet at the same time it seems like we all fight the same demons."
Since Good Night’s completion in 2012 it has been doing the festival circuit. Attending festivals has been interesting on many levels, including the obvious ones of meeting programmers and creating new contacts for possible collaborations on future projects, but probably even more so in meeting other writers and directors to discuss the craft and explore their different voices.
Everyone approaches filmmaking in their own way yet at the same time it seems like we all fight the same demons during the process, and it is encouraging to realise you are not the only one who deals with insecurities and moments of doubt. Sitting behind your computer working on a script for days on end, especially when starting out, you can begin to feel like you are all alone in a fantasy world and that what you are doing isn’t a real profession. At festivals you get to meet kindred spirits that might live on the other side of the globe yet struggle with the same things you do, and it reminds you that there is a whole community out there.
One of the other things that has been a pleasant surprise for me at festivals is the experience of watching the film with different audiences. The reactions can be so diverse and quite surprising at times. Every audience feels like its own entity, you never quite know how they will react. I’ve slowly come to enjoy watching my film, which is a huge contrast with the first few viewing experiences in which it would physically hurt to watch the film. Of course I still get nervous each time the film starts, but I also catch myself enjoying the anticipation of certain scenes, curious to see and feel how this particular audience will react to it.
I will never forget the moment I learned Good Night was BAFTA-nominated. A wave of emotions rushed through me; a profound feeling of gratitude, intense happiness and disbelief. Even though we were long-listed, which meant there was a chance, it was hard to believe it when it actually happened. I can’t remember ever feeling anything like it. And I was so happy for all the people involved. Everyone worked so hard on this film, I really hope this nomination will benefit every single one of them—they truly deserve it.