Q&A with Adam Palmer

In June 2019, Adam Palmer won Best Short Film for ‘Answer’. To watch his short film, check out the video below.

What was the inspiration behind your short film ‘Answer’?

Answer' didn't really stem from a single place of inspiration and was born out of a creative 'dry-spell' for me. I hadn't made anything for some time and had been working a lot putting time and creativity into projects that weren't fulfilling my vision. So, one Thursday, during my lunch break, I just started writing. I instantly thought of a character listening to an answer machine message and what that could be, and from there the film almost wrote itself. That day I sent the draft to Lawrence Walker, who plays the actor we see on screen as he had just finished shooting BBC's 'Our Girl' and wanted to catch up. He read it on Friday and we were shooting it on Saturday!

What kind of feedback have you received from the short film?

The feedback has been fantastic for something that was quite off-the-cuff. I remember one particular message I received from someone I'd never met before. They said they'd been through a similar experience and they were really comforted to know that their story was being told. That really touched me to know that myself, Nathalie and Lawrence were able to pull off the story in a tasteful and respectful way. But not only that, it's received great feedback at festivals too, which provide a great platform for people to see your work when they usually might not.

Do you have any tips for budding filmmakers?

This is something that I'm only coming to terms with and realising myself, but don't wait for permission to make your film. Too many months have been spent applying to and waiting for funding opportunities that never materialise, just so I can tell a story. If you're absolutely certain you can't make a film without a huge budget, then maybe that project isn't right for you at this moment. Write something where you (or you and a small team) can grab a camera and just make it. Don't let someone else tell you when you can or cannot make your own work.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of the filmmaking process for you?

For the most part, I've undertaken several roles during the production of a film. Every time however it's always been the directing stage that I've gleaned the most fun from. I enjoy writing too; planning a story and getting it from my head onto a page, but directing is when you see those pages come to life in front of you, and especially when working with actors you start to realise that maybe that line doesn't work or that action isn't suitable, so you get to collaborate and work things out in a team to get the best possible outcome on the day.

How did you learn about filmmaking?

My earliest memory is buying a DVD and instantly watching the bonus disc for all the behind-the-scenes documentaries. Apparently I used to run around as kid holding a toy video camera, so I've clearly had it instilled in me from an early age. Those documentaries though really struck a chord with me and from then on I started making my own short films with my webcam or stills camera (little stop motion animation with Lego, or Star Wars fan films where I'd run around the garden with a lightsaber). I tailored my later life pursuing a career in film by studying it at college and later at University. But to this day I'm still learning and I know I have a long way to go still.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I guess I touched on this just, but I grew up with a BIG love for Star Wars and would always create short Star Wars themed films (which starred me as a leading actor), so that was definitely a big inspiration. I've always just appreciated the craft of cinema and the collaborative effort of bringing a story to life and then learning about it more as I've gotten older has been infinitely inspiring since.

What is your goal in the film industry?

My goal has been and I think always will be to create and share films with mainstream or wider audiences. I LOVE the escapism that cinema brings to all walks of life and have been moved, entertained, thrilled and shocked so many times watching films that I want to be able to have a hand in doing that for others myself. I love knowing that someone has watched my work, albeit for just 6-10 minutes, but has left either with a smile on their face, a tear in their eye, or even just a new way of thinking about something that I helped contribute to.

Why do you think it’s important to utilize film festivals?

Film festivals are absolutely crucial to an indie filmmakers career. Platforms like Breakout give a filmmaker a space to show their work to people who they wouldn't usually have access to, and that enables you to get a fresh perspective on what people think of your work and how you can adapt and improve on future projects. They're a great networking tool too, as you're surrounded by others who are equally creating work most likely for the same reasons you are, so you're with peers who can inspire you or help push you to the next step, whether through collaboration on future projects or feedback on your previous work.

What project are you currently working on?

I'm currently in post on two projects. Firstly, a new short with Nick Preston and Lawrence Walker (who has become to me almost like what Michael Caine is to Christopher Nolan), exploring same-sex relationships with a backdrop of the UK's gang culture, and secondly a music video (also in post-production) for an incredible new artist known as 'Wnderland'. They're made up of Thom Robson, who has scored every film I've ever made, and Sarah McIntosh (formerly of The Good Natured). It was a great project as it allowed me to try a few things I've wanted to for some time, plus the location, cast and crew were all outstanding!

What is your favourite film and why?

This one is always a tough one for me. I tend to have favourite Directors rather than one stand-out film. Picking one I'd say 'Interstellar', for the father-daughter relationship it contains and how despite it being an epic sci-fi film, it has a solid human story at its core. A few honourable mentions would be 'A Ghost Story', which I only watched recently (and sobbed throughout) and the work of the Safdie Brothers, especially 'Good Time'.