Stuart Edwards short doc ‘A Wee Night in’ was selected for the 2015 Edinburgh Short Film Festival and nominated for the Rising Star Award.
‘A Wee Night In’ is a charming and life-affirming documentary following two octagenerians living in East Kilbride in Scotland and their carefree, happy and durable friendship.
Chrissy was a sickly child, so no one expected her to live to a ripe old age. Nevertheless, this Scottish woman is now 95, frail but full of life. From her house in a village near Glasgow, she engages in activities that keep her active, fun and bursting with vitality and humour. Today, Chrissy’s 91-year-old boyfriend Bill is coming over for a nice evening.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got starting in filmmaking?
Well I’ve always been interested in filmmaking and it was at Grays School of Art, in Aberdeen where I studied for 4 years that I started dabbling in photography and film, but it wasn’t until I started my MFA at Edinburgh College of Art that I really started getting into filmmaking properly. Documentary seemed like the best way to go for me as it allows me to be an all rounder developing my skills as a director, cinematographer & editor.
What do you enjoy most about working in the short form film?
For me, I think what I enjoy most, especially with documentary short form, is it allows you to take a seemingly small story or circumstance and make it into something bigger. I really enjoy accentuating everyday things in life and short films are the perfect way to learn and practice your craft. For example, with A Wee Night In, the story is very minimal and on paper nothing much is happening, but because I had such a close relationship to Chrissy and Bill, it allowed me to make the most of these everyday moments and get into the rhythms and routines of these two great characters and I was lucky as there was a humorous and sweet tone to them that sustains the narrative and really makes the film.
Describe the process of making A Wee Night In?
The process of making A Wee Night In was very enjoyable. I started off filming my 95 year old gran and 91 year old partner who comes round at weekends to my gran`s house in East Kilbride, as I wanted to make a short doc portrait of them. What I noticed was there was a real honesty to the approach & footage so I wanted to continue that and it was great filming two people I really cared about. I started spending Saturday nights with them and focusing on the tiny little happenings of their nights in together which were often filled with humour. Although it is a small story that revolves around their daily routines, it meant a lot in the sense that these two characters and the time they spend together were being preserved. It was so enjoyable to really get into the little details of Chrissy & Bill and as a result of the process I got to know them a lot better. With this film I also wanted to try a new approach breaking down the narrative and method of filming to its simplest form. The visual style of the film was influenced by the pace and rhythm that Chrissy and Bill created between them. I really wanted to play with long takes and I tried to fit scenes into one take with a static wide frame, so scenes were allowed to play out. The approach seemed very photographic and embraced the stillness of their wee world, so that any movement or sudden small outburst of drama would be more emphasised.
Do you have a favourite memory of making the film about your gran?
There is no one specific memory but generally the whole process I found very funny. I was always so shocked that two people in their 90’s could be so energetic and how they would talk so much and most of the time talk over each other, with the radio and TV blaring in the background. When I had finished a rough version of the film, I tried to show them it on my laptop…although I made the error of not turning the TV off beforehand, so their attention swiftly turned to Deal or No Deal so it wasn’t a huge hit with them…game over, they thought it was very dull.
Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on?
Over the past few month’s I have been working in collaboration with fellow ECA Documentary Graduate, Lukasz Kulec, on a new documentary about the famous Barras Market in Glasgow. The film focuses on the last of a generation of older Glasgow traders and the slowly declining market around them. The film has been a huge challenge and being in this special place has been an incredibly bizarre and joyful experience.
Stuart Edwards was Interviewed by Lauren Clarke