It’s our first piece in 2019! We wanted to bring you an interview with a director we touched on in our piece from 2018’s San Diego Film Festival. Callum Crawford is a writer, actor, and director from the UK who released Degenerates in 2018. It is his first feature film produced and finished, yet it isn’t the first script he’s written by any means. Check out the trailer for Degenerates below.
We reconnected for a short interview, so enjoy our Q&A with Callum Crawford!
Tristan: Thanks again for this short interview Callum. At the festival, you talked about writing a few screenplays that hadn’t been purchased or produced before working on Degenerates. What was the moment that made you undertake a project you would want to write and produce?
Callum Crawford: I feel with the Degenerates script, it’s the most personal and meaningful. At least it was my journey as a filmmaker up to that point. After I finished the final draft, I got to thinking about myself in twenty or thirty years time. When I am looking back on my career and thinking about my first feature film, would I want it to be a story that I would forget about or would it be a story that reflected what I was going through at that time in my life as a struggling screenwriter? It’s a no brainer to make this my debut.
Tristan: Degenerates speaks to me as I’m getting started in the film industry as well. I say you’re right, and writing and acting in your own genuine story is the best foot to start on. How did you find the eclectic and engaging cast? Did you know any of them previously? Tell me about your experience working with them as well.
Callum Crawford: I only knew Annette Badland (Maureen) previously. I was working in the industry as an AD and we both worked on a TV soap together. We hit it off right away. Lauren Douglin (Naomi) and James Sanbrook (Peter) I found online, through casting call websites. After meeting with them to discuss their characters, we had a read through a couple of scenes before I knew they were the right actors for the roles. It was a joy to work with all of them. They all brought their A-game.
Tristan: I love the casting choices, and I’m glad you went with who you did. Talking locations, how did you find where you would shoot? It looks properly English with grey skies and small roads. Did you have a location scout, or were these places you’d seen and had in mind?
Callum Crawford: Due to the budget being so tight, I scouted all of the locations. I wanted the film to be set far away from the traditional London setting, as to me when I see London in a film nowadays, it just screams ‘cheesy gangster film,’ but that’s my own personal opinion.
Tristan: That makes sense now that you point it out. It definitely wasn’t the cliché London setting. You worked to get your script produced yourself, and you were the leading role. If I could say, your performance set the tone for the film and you portrayed a likable and human character. Do you have any acting training or experience? Was this your first go at it?
Callum Crawford: Thank you. I feel the stress that Casey went through was on the same wavelength as what I went through producing the film. I didn’t have to give a Hamlet performance. The feeling of pressure and everything falling down around him was already set in stone inside me. I acted in a couple of amateur stage plays and a commercial but nothing of this scale.
Tristan: What have reactions to Degenerates been like? Being accepted to SDIFF must have been a great accomplishment. What other festivals has it played at?
Callum Crawford: People have really enjoyed it. It’s a fun, easy watch that has something for everyone. The only criticism I receive I completely agree with. I knew it before we screened it. Compared to the 1st act, the 2nd and 3rd act have some pacing issues. If I’ve learned anything from making Degenerates, pacing is something I needed to think about when writing and making my next feature. We are still waiting to hear back from lots more festivals. A sales agent currently has the film and is taking it to all the film markets throughout the year. We are also looking for ‘Video on Demand’ release.
Tristan: Now that you finished Degenerates, what are you up to? Do you have projects coming soon? Are you working in the industry elsewhere?
Callum Crawford: I have finished writing my second feature that I want to make out in LA. This is a film that can be shot on an industry-low budget. I can’t tell you too much more though. It’s a fast-paced, dark comedy, crime drama. The story hasn’t been told before and I’m really excited to get the ball rolling with it. I am about to start sending the script out to companies and producers in California. My hope is someone falls in love with the story and wants to take it forward with me.
Tristan: Well Callum, I sure hope so too!