Jamie Wanstall

Jamie Wanstall is a Director from Crawley, West Sussex, England. He studied Digital Film & Screen Arts at the University for the Creative Arts before joining forces with a group of creatives at Praxima; where he now travels the world working on films, TV commercials and online content.

Alter Films

Still Waters Run Deep

Q & A

Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?

Freddy Krueger. Nightmare On Elm Street was one of the first horror films I watched as a kid and it stuck with me for a while. I tend to wake up from nightmares the same way we all walk out of the cinema after watching a good horror film - a little on edge, but pretty thrilled.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

Everyone that enjoys horror films, either creating or watching, is a part of that community. Without an audience, there’s no film. So yea, I certainly do!

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?

To be honest, I just look at the world around me. Everything we create is just a variant or extension of the world we already know. It’s just about how far we want to set our boundaries.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?

The idea behind this film is that there is no plausible conclusion, so in that sense, I’d probably just enjoy the time I have until the inevitable happens.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Freddie. Stephen King. Practical. Post - would quite enjoy a zombie apocalypse.

How did the project come about?

Creative frustration and a lack of sleep. I’m always dreaming up ideas for projects, whether that be narrative, music videos or even just experimental works. The problem is that these ideas usually happen when I’m trying to get to sleep. I think it’s because I try to relax and clear my mind. But my brain sees an opportunity to fill that space with ideas, often leading to an array of notes that make little-to-no sense when I next read them. This time, however, I was sure about what I wanted to do. And with the pandemic and a little encouragement from my colleagues at Praxima, things just started to happen. Of course, the pandemic helped too, given that we weren’t as full-on with productions.

How did you go about casting Lewie and Daisy?

Again, this was helped along by the guys at Praxima. Sam Bradford, another director at the company (1st AD on this project), put out a casting call on Twitter. The response was overwhelming so I had to start whittling down the shortlist. I asked a few of the actors to do a self-tape of a specific scene that I knew would be the make-or-break for them. Both Lewie and Daisy came back with exactly what I was looking for so I could look no further.

What were the budgetary constraints?

The restraints were as deep as my pocket would go... which wasn’t far. With the lockdowns and fewer productions than ever, the purse strings were tight both for myself and Praxima. I paid for Lewie and Daisy to travel down and stay for 2 nights near our location. Praxima managed to pick up the bill for the location. Other than that it was odds and sod such as costume, props and food. Luckily this wasn’t too much and I think all-in-all we spent about £1k. The beauty of our production company is that we own all our own kit. And good kit too. So we had no issues there. Plus, the style in which I wanted to tell the story lended itself to a more low-key approach.

What sort of films inspire you?

I’ve always admired films that put the viewer in the shoes of the character. For example, there’s a great British film called Calibre which sees two men land in a truly awful situation. It made me think “I actually don’t know what I would do if that was me”. Other films such as It Follows, Let The Right One In and The Babadook all have tones that sit well with me.

What do you hope will come from this film?

I’ve got no plans to extend it in to a feature length story. This was simply an opportunity to try some things out and experiment a little. I wanted to create a feeling, a mood, a tone that makes the viewer feel uneasy, yet still intrigued to the mystery of the situation.

Have you learned anything from this project?

I’ve learned what I’ve learned on every project... there’s never enough time! I like to plan excessively and yet, there’s always something you have to do to adapt to a situation. Whether that’s due to technical faults, a change in script, location issues and as always, the weather. But you generally learn that the beauty of filmmaking comes from the ever-changing circumstances. It wouldn’t be any fun if it were too easy.

What are you doing next?

More of the same. As always, looking to push some creative boundaries with more music videos and commercial work. But I have some more narrative projects up my sleeve. The buzz for filmmaking never stops, so I’ll be looking for funding before getting them off the ground.