Q&A with Rory Wilson

Rory’s short film ‘Loco’ is our March winner and an official selection for the 2021 festival.

What was the inspiration behind making this film?

'Loco' explores the world of a train driver. When there is an incident on the tracks, a suicide, the train driver is often the last person to be thought of, they are the forgotten victim. Just imagine, the noise of the impact, the horrific sight, seeing someone in their last second of life. Such is the trauma that most train drivers will endure, and yet their voice is not heard. In my research I came across shocking stories of PTSD suffered by these drivers, and the unforgiving news that support funding was set to be cut. I used this research and the vivid details of the true accounts to build a script with a singular focus of conveying a sympathetic telling of a train driver's experience from an intimate and intensely subjective viewpoint. It was important that the film was grounded in reality and to this end the team met with Dave Huntington, the Chief Tracks Incident Response Officer, who gave us valuable insight into the procedure during an incident, but also how the train drivers often react in the moments after an incident. Dave was also on set to overlook the filming of the train sequences, and he even appears in the film as an extra!

What did you learn from the experience of making this film?

In the making of ‘Loco’ I learned about the use of perspective and the power of subjective storytelling. In practice, the perspective from which you are telling the story should inform every aspect of the film, from how the scenes are written, where the camera is placed and even down to the sound design, which was pertinent in ‘Loco’ as we literally hear what is going on in the train driver’s head. When first approaching this story through a subjective lens I feared there would be limitations, but in fact it simplified all of the choices I had to make, every decision had purpose and added to the subjective view from the train drivers perspective. I was so rigid in this application of viewpoint that even the incident on the tracks plays solely on the train driver and his reaction. Some things do not need to be shown and Andrew Schofield’s expression tells us everything we need to know about what he has just witnessed. 

How has the film been received?

Winning ‘Best Film’ (March) at BreakOut was an incredible way to start the festival circuit. The film is halfway through its festival circuit and has picked up several selections and awards, but we still have a few big festivals I’m hoping to compete at later in the year. The energy and buzz of being at a festival, meeting other filmmakers and discussing our films is something I am missing as many festivals have been pushed online. It is an important part of the process to present your work, to hear feedback and critique. But yes, the reception has been good so far! Andrew Schofield’s performance, which is so raw and powerful, is rightly drawing attention and focus.

What do you love most about the filmmaking process?

I wouldn’t break down the process and choose one part, because what I love about filmmaking is the process as a whole, that it draws out every aspect of yourself. Making a film is the fullest experience. One day you will be deep in your own head, writing, dreaming and visualising, lost in your ideas, researching and exploring; the next day will be very hands on and physical, exerting the muscularity required during a shoot, the stamina, the long days, the days when you don’t have time to eat but still have energy to run the race until the light goes, the energy to inspire your cast and crew so that you are all driving towards a singular goal; and then finally you become the architect, sat in a comfy chair with a coffee, piecing together the puzzle, constructing the story, imbuing each sequence of shots with meaning and purpose whilst having a constant conversation with an imaginary audience looking over your shoulder. What a rollercoaster ride, and just to make things even more challenging, each film is totally different, the learning never stops and the process continues to be redefined to better serve each film.

What is your advice to filmmakers making their debut short film?

Make decisions when you are feeling inspired and positive, and then find the courage to stick to these decisions even when the doubt creeps in. Your idea or vision needs to be actualised into something real, something tangible that exists beyond your own mind. Maybe this starts with a mock-up poster, storyboarding and sharing the script with friends or fellow filmmakers. Put the film out into the world, and the world will suddenly hold you accountable for it, so you don’t have a choice anymore but to make it happen.

What are you up to next?

After a long and strange lockdown, the light at the end of the tunnel emerged with my funding coming through for my next project which will be a short film inspired by a true story. I am in the early days of pre-production and trying to build a momentum to get things moving.

© Breakout Film Festival