Christopher Granier-Deferre in Film & TV

28/08/2015

iFeatures Director Alex Taylor on Finding and Developing Your Story

Director Alex Taylor entered into our iFeatures programme with an unusual story to tell. 

After stumbling upon a cosplayer named Chloe online, he knew that he had found a subject matter worth investigating. "Chloe believed she had angels trapped in her womb, that there'd be a new world order and she'd be one of the spiritual leaders able to help weaker ones make it through," explains Taylor of his otherworldly tale. "She'd grown up fantasising about morphing from a girl to a scaly lizard-woman in front of her classmates.  I was totally gripped - this is the kind of person who I love to explore."

Ideas for a feature film based loosely on Chloe's story came thick and fast but before he could get to work, Taylor made a short to help secure funding from Creative England's iFeatures scheme, a programme aimed at supporting micro-budget features from new talent. 

Taylor's short delved deep into the key themes that he wanted to dissect further on screen and it wasn't long before he had started work developing 'Spaceship' into his eponymous feature-length debut. Due for release later this year, it's the second of three films to graduate from our iFeaures programme, hot off the heels of Guy MyHill's 'The Goob', which starred Sean Harris and newcomer Liam Walpole.

"Spaceship is about a girl who fakes her own alien abduction and disappears, and we follow the journey of her father and friends who are affected in different ways," says Taylor of his iFeatures debut. "It's a portrait of outsiders and a celebration of their worlds."

To learn more about how 'Spaceship' came to be, we asked Taylor to share his advice to other emerging filmmakers on how they can take their germ of an idea and bring it to life on screen. Here's what he had to say...

Find Your Hook

"Chloe's an outsider who's built a strange, very personal, colourful world around her. She's absolutely fearless and unbounded by the conventions that hold so many other people back in life. Rather than conforming to what other people think she should be, she's made up an identity that makes sense to her, so other people have to catch up.

I'm obsessed with understanding and giving a voice to someone like this, probably because in some ways I always felt like an outsider as well. I want to celebrate outsiders. I want the film to say to stereotypes who don't have their own identity - you're the stranger here."

Develop Your Hook

"Imagine a whole world inside the film, not just a sequence of events and characters that explain how the hook came to be. So the hook can tell you what kind of world it is, from there you can imagine all the other things that belong in the world. This is a different approach to building a narrative sequence that gets from point A to point B. I prefer to give characters a free reign and watch in fascination as they do things even I don't expect while writing it."

Do Your Research

"Research is really important and also the best fun. I spent the whole summer of 2014 hanging out with a bunch of teenagers in Farnborough. They were all goths, emos, scene kids etc. There were some hard stories of being kicked out of home and living in the YMCA and of self-harming but the resilience and humour they have to deal with it was inspiring and humbling and helped to feed into the themes and atmosphere of the film.  After that I invited some of them to be in the film and they even became quite major characters, one is a musician and we're using two of her tracks in the film and she sings a song live in a scene and it's so touching. You don't get that if you just stay in your room trying to write purely from your imagination."

Be Open To New Ideas

"The film is alive and it's breathing and it can't breathe if it's being strangled by narrative and preconceived ideas.  Whatever idea you start with I think you should listen to the world of the film, not tell it what to do."

Find The Right Support

"The money we received from Creative England was essential and we couldn't have made this film without it. The emotional and artistic support was just as good though, especially with Chris Moll as our exec, he knew how to guide and tease out the best of us and of my vision for the film, while not letting it get out of hand.  They made us feel safe and secure with their support behind us, so that empowered us to go out and be creative."


Head here to find out more about Creative England's iFeatures programme or follow the Film Team on Twitter to stay up to date with their latest opportunities.

Read our exclusive interview with Guy MyHill director of inaugural iFeatures film 'The Goob' here. To find out more about director Alex Taylor, visit his website.

All photography by Phill Miller.

  • iFeatures
  • Filmmaking
  • Filming in England
  • Film Funding