We’re so proud that 2 films that screened at Raindance have made it to the BIFA’s Raindance Discovery Award long-list, including Masters of Love, an amusing romantic comedy directed by Matt Roberts. We sat down and asked Matt a few questions about his creation and process.
What inspired the idea behind Masters of Love?
I’d say it’s a pretty personal film. There’s nothing directly autobiographical in there but I’m in my thirties living in London, so it’s definitely an interpretation of what that feels like. There was a couple of things I wanted to explore specifically. The first was how we navigate love in the modern world – with the barrage of seemingly endless options for partners and lifestyles how do we manage to feel satisfied with what we have? I was interested in how the instant gratification we’ve all become so accustomed to is effecting long term relationships – be that partners, friends or family.
The second aspect was this second ‘coming of age’ that seems to happen to everyone in their thirties. Nearly everyone I know has gone through a transition in their early thirties when they start questioning their place in the world – and thrown together with modern love I thought is was fertile ground for (dark) comedy.
What is the most difficult challenge when directing a comedy?
The biggest challenge on this film was that we set ourselves the rule of filming every scene in a single shot. This meant there was no ability to manipulate the energy and rhythm of the comedy in the edit – I either used the entire take or I didn’t.
To be honest it was a bit of an experiment – all my short films have plenty of coverage – but (luckily) I think it was the right decision for this film as it created a sense of tension and realism that was in line with the tone of comedy I wanted. I always intended for it to be on the dramatic side of comedy (Alexander Payne, Noah Boumbach and ‘Transparent’ were tonal touchstones), so we were always looking for the truth of the scene rather than playing the comedy – you then hope the comedy naturally reveals itself in the performances and writing. We are always asked at Q&A’s if it was improvised but nothing was, it’s all scripted, it’s just that the technique of single shots creates very naturalistic performances.
What is it like to film in London?
Amazing and bloody difficult. Amazing because you have a huge amount of production value for free. If you can keep your crew very small it’s pretty simple to film on London streets and soak up all the incredible texture and energy it gives you.
Bloody difficult because all that amazing texture and energy is full of unpredictability – planes, cars, unwanted extras – which makes it quite tough to schedule.
How does it feel to be long listed for the BIFA 2019 Raindance Discovery Award?
Incredible. Masters of Love was made for a tiny budget with a bunch of amazingly talented, generous people, so to be recognised amongst such a strong long list is a real honour.
What is your next project?
I’m writing a couple of films that are at different stages of development. One is a buddy cop movie set in Merthyr Tydfil and the other is a modern British epic set in Blackpool. I’m also developing a comedy series for TV.
What advice would you give to an aspiring filmmaker?
Firstly, make stuff! There’s no better way to learn than making work. If you can afford an iPhone and a few lapel mics you can make a short film. The ability to make work for next to no money also means when someone finally gives you a nice healthy budget you’ll have got a lot of your mistakes out the way already – without blowing other people’s hard earned cash.
I would also say don’t be in too much of a rush. It’s a very natural instinct to think about festivals and awards before you’ve even shot your first frame but try and take them out of the equation and just focus on finding your voice – then the festivals and awards will follow. If you’re serious about being a film maker for life you have to learn to be patient. Features take years to get off the ground and often years to complete so enjoy experimenting at the start of your career.
And finally, start networking early, find other collaborators and nurture those relationships. Film making is a hugely collaborative process so try and surround yourself with people who are better at their jobs than you.
Congratulations and best of luck Matt and team, and we look forward to seeing you soon!