Lou McLoughlan: Brits to Watch

Director Lou McLoughlan is one of BAFTA's 2011 Brits to Watch, an initiative showcasing new British talent to the international industry.

Her short, Caring For Calum, won two BAFTA in Scotland New Talent awards. Her latest feature is titled 16 Years 'Til Summer.

What first inspired you to get into your craft?

When I was a kid, I was watching Heimat on TV and there was this utterly magic moment where the one-eyed boy turns himself upside down, with a handstand, so he can take a new look at the world, and the camera turned upside down with him – and me. Amazing. 

How did you first break into the industry?

My first break probably came when I met up with two fantastic producers from Iceland's Zik Zak Filmworks, just after I graduated this summer. Hlin and Otto were interested in helping me develop my short documentary film, Caring For Calum, into a feature and this timed perfectly with the Scottish Documentary Institute finalising their slate - so I suddenly found myself in a perfect co-production with two very complimentary organisations. I think the two BAFTAs I was given helped that happen, as did the more recent Grierson. Awards like these provide those layers of reassurance producers and funders need. The feature, Sixteen Years 'til Summer, is now well on the way to finding the funding it needs and, most magnificently, I am finally creating my film as part of a very talented team! Low/no budget, lone doc making is hard on you if you have a sociable nature so this next stage is definitely what I would call my "break-through" moment. More incredibly, the editor of one of my favourite films, Festen, has agreed to come on board as editing consultant - life really could get no better! For 2012 I'm plotting a documentary about greed as a form of madness. The next career "breakthrough" will probably be when I find a good writer for a 20-40 minute improvisation based fiction film I'd like to direct.

Which professional figure in your field do you find the most inspiring? 

Pirjo Honkasalo. She blurs the line between fact and fiction really beautifully and brings such a sparse, magic realism to her work. When I say 'sparse' I don't mean empty – the gaps are where I find common ground with her characters. She makes me invest in her story and that's really smart filmmaking. Closer to home I also admire Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Ken Loach and Dominic Savage.

If you hadn’t managed to break into your field, what was your plan B?

There was never a plan B – the question was more how long I could live without food.

Which film/television programme/ video game do you wish you could have worked on?

I saw the The Hedgehog yesterday and thought it was one of the best films I have ever seen. Directed by a 28-year-old called Mona Achache. Gorgeous film. The French really know how to cultivate talent in their film industry.

What single piece of advice would you give to a young person trying to break into your discipline and get themselves noticed?

Surround yourself with as many people as you can who are kind and who know more than you do. And then explore - like in life.

How important is knowing people? Is raw talent enough?

I'm a really lousy networker. I always end up staring over their right shoulder while my mind calculates how many minutes of my life I will never get back. Networking is probably very important, but without talent you're just another vacuous sociopath aren't you?

How do you think the UK film/TV/games industry will change in the next few years?

As we're heading for a recession and a lot more civil unrest, I would think filmmaking will do two things: play a bigger part in the escapism from real life people need, and become part of the vital communication of ideas needed to build a better world. Film and religion do really well in recessions don't they?


Lou McLoughlan


View Lou's IMDb profile

Brits to Watch Portrait: BAFTA/ Barry J Holmes