Denial and Dinosaurs. A young girl cares for her younger brother at home, while she awaits her mother’s return.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Tessa Hoffe
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made this film because I hadn’t made a short film for about 6 years. I direct a lot of television and I was craving a different outlet. A different way to express my craft and I was curious as to what kind of filmmaker I had become after directing so much television.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Spinosaurus has captured a natural and unforced charm I’ve rarely seen achieved with child actors. It was a risky project to make and ambitious in its goal. Yet it is one of the simplest of ideas. There is a strong emotional pull which is hard to achieve in 14 mins, it is a short film which makes you smile yet can also make you cry.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I wrote Spinosaurus, directed it and produced it and my son stars in it. It is a very personal film in that regard. As a single mother and as a filmmaker it combines huge themes which as a parent are universal. The film's themes engage the audience emotionally so the connection with these children, no matter where in the world seems to have resonated.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The script started off quite differently. A child and babysitter wake in the morning to find that Mum didn’t come home – but it felt too sinister to me and I wasn’t interested in that. Then it became about two children alone. And then when locking the shoot dates down the original location fell through and I had to find another. I went for a coastal location, and was able to integrate that into the story. It then became about a child carer, which was solely inspired by the location.
None of the dialogue between the children was scripted, so it was always going to be a case of ‘whatever happen, happens…’ Each scene was scripted, but what might happen in those scenes was never locked down. This project was ever evolving, that is one of the reasons it was such a pleasure to make and very liberating.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Spinosaurus has been selected for numerous festivals, been picked up for sales and theatrical distribution. There has been a lot of emotional responses, people admitting to shedding a few tears. It was such a joy to make and a wonderful experience for all those involved that it is difficult to think of it being such a sad story but of course it is.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Sometimes the feedback makes you question decisions made either in the script process or later. Simon Ellis (DOP and Editor of Spinosaurus) and I often talk about the response to the film and criticisms of the film, it’s great that we are still discussing the project this long after we have finished it. We still question ourselves and some of the decisions which is a great thing to do. I don’t think filmmakers should ever stop doing that.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m hoping people will be interested in watching the film, going to see it at any upcoming festivals and be encouraged and inspired to self-fund their own projects. Don’t wait for funding bodies to give you the go ahead. Make your films.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I would like producers to take notice of the film (I am writing a feature based on the same theme) and festival directors who can see how audiences have been affected by this film and the extraordinary performances from the young actors.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
The theme throughout Spinosaurus is the role of the child carer. This has rarely been seen in film and it highlights the plight of families dealing with rising costs of heathcare and the unaffordable costs of hiring proper care within the home. The horrifying thought for families that they may be broken up or separated means the true nature of their situations are hidden. Greater acknowledgement to these families would be a welcome response to this film.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Should children be caring for sick or unstable parents?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I am working on a feature script based on the same themes as Spinosaurus called The Taylors. My feature treatment for The Taylors came third in the 2017 Euroscript competition earlier this year.
Interview: August 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Denial and Dinosaurs
Director: Tessa Hoffe
Producer: Tessa Hoffe
Writer: Tessa Hoffe
About the writer, director and producer:
Tessa Hoffe is a filmmaker and television director originally from New Zealand but based in the UK. Spinosaurus is her 6th short film.
Key cast: Georgia Bowran and Enzo Hoffe
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Producers
Social media handles:
Facebook: Tessa Hoffe
Funders: Self funded.