Credit: Ryan O’Donoghue
Hi Sam, thanks so much for being with us. Whereabouts in the world are you right now and what are you up to?
Hi Chris, it’s a pleasure to be here. Right now I’m sat in our production office at Praxima, which is in East Grinstead. Whenever people ask where that is I always say if you draw a line from London to Brighton, its bang in the middle.
My team and I have just stepped off completing production on a short film called “panic!” with some very talented people and are now in the middle of navigating our way through a number of scripts and projects for optioning in 23/24. It’s an exciting time as we’re still enjoying the never-ending experiences of completing and distributing our debut feature and that milestone has now opened new doors that we’re excited to walk through.
You have a new film that’s out, a feature called The Pay Day which you directed and co-produced. What’s the film about?
The Pay Day is a British crime caper/rom-com set in London and revolves around a character called “Jenn” played by Kyla Frye. She’s just been made redundant and we join her at a point where no matter what she’s done and how many rules that she’s followed – life keeps giving her lemons. But opportunity knocks in the form of Simon Callow’s devilishly intriguing “Gates” who offers her an opportunity to make lots of money fast, but to do so she’ll have to break a few rules and perform a one-woman heist, utilising her skill set as an IT Tech, to steal some data worth millions. Sounds easy but all of Jenn’s plans go out the window once career criminal “George”, played by Sam Benjamin, arrives to steal the very same thing.
Why did you want to tell this story?
Kyla Frye and Sam Benjamin developed the story together and when I read the first draft, I was immediately drawn to the story of the underdog. Jenn is counted out by society and is looked upon, at least in the beginning of our movie, as someone who’s easily replaceable. The spirit of The Pay Day, for me, is about taking chances, believing in yourself and not being afraid to fail. There’s many ways to tell this kind of story but we
wanted our movie to be one that does so by trying to hit that elusive tone of Hollywood in the 60’s, a funny and thrilling ride in equal measure with plenty of memorable characters throughout.
What were some of the challenges in getting this made?
Apologies but this will be a ramble! Firstly, it’s a miracle that any film gets made! The task of planning to shoot a movie, then doing it and seeing it through post-production is immensely difficult and you really do need an army to see it through. I say this without even including what it takes to decide what to do once it’s finished!
The first real challenge, I think, was deciding when to pull the trigger. We prepped and prepped for quite some time, our first draft of the script was ready back in 2018 and we put together a table read. The reviews were great but life, as always, gets in the way. We all have jobs and responsibilities so the movie sat on a shelf until we could reconnect and decide that we were going to see it through. We then had to try and accurately budget for all of the hard costs, meaning the things which had to be paid for in advance of shooting.
This way we could assess how much we would need to raise and more importantly give us an indication of where to go looking for it!
Credit: Tyler Fayose
Money, in the indie film world, is a very stressful, and at times, almost impossible aspect to overcome. There’s always going to be certain grants and funds out there, but more often than not I have found that the hoops which filmmakers have to jump through to be awarded financial aid is normally too long and too specific to certain criteria. It wasn’t for us, so eventually, we realised that private financing was going to be the best foot forward.
Hilariously, it helped that our leading man and writer, Sam Benjamin, had his green card accepted for a move to L.A! This gave our team a countdown clock to work to – sooner or later Sam was flying away and we had to get the movie in the can before then.
So with a decision to privately finance the film it was then up to our production team to locate some money going spare! I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very lovely people who believed enough in my talents and ambition for The Pay Day to sit down and have a number of chats with me. Call it luck, faith or the planets aligning – we managed to welcome 4 executive producers aboard the project who made it financially possible to start the cameras rolling – and I will forever be grateful to those absolute legends! I like to think that everything happens only when it’s the right time to happen and after finding the money and assembling the right crew and perfect cast – in a bizarre twist – the opportune time to take the leap and start making The Pay Day was during lockdown in 2021. The industry had stalled, the city was quiet and it was an interesting period where permits were granted faster, access to locations had become easier and in general – people had more time to offer the project and for a lot of us, wanted to become involved in something positive during a trying time for so many.
Where can our readers watch The Pay Day?
For anyone in the U.S.A, you can buy or rent wherever you get your digital fix but as of this month you can also watch our movie for free on the Starz Network.
For audiences in the UK, its still available to buy or rent from the usual suspects but we’re excited to say that it will be available to stream as an exclusive on FreeVee very soon!
What’s next for you?
Good question! What I don’t want to do is relax for too long. I’m pleased to say this isn’t a “one and done” situation for me. I’ve been approached to direct a new movie that we are currently working out the specifics on and I’m also attached to a number of feature ideas that are in the process of being scripted. Another piece of advice from those that have gone before me is to always have something else lined up, I guess that’s why our industry is so varied and accessible right now. There’s literally an endless amount of platforms to showcase your work on as a filmmaker so why wouldn’t you have more than one project on the go?
Credit: Ryan O’Donoghue
What’s a movie you absolutely love and why?
Dumb and Dumber. I honestly think I’ve seen the movie about 100 times over and it still makes me howl with laughter. The duo of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, an all-American road trip, the screwball comedy of it all and a smile-inducing soundtrack results in what I think is a perfect comedy. So much so that my wife and I even managed to watch it whilst we were in labour!
I love that film too! I would be lying if I didn’t admit to trying to light my own farts after seeing it as a kid. Why do you love making films?
Filmmaking is ridiculously hard. A perfect shot in a movie could have meant 20, 30 or even 50 takes in real life. Making a movie means LONG DAYS. You’ll be going to sleep sometimes and realising you’re up in just a few hours to take on another 18-hour day that could be ruined by something as unpredictable as the weather!
It’s a process that asks so much from so many people, but what happens is you suddenly inherit a new family, that you work alongside for months, sometimes even years! That’s very special to me because I’ve met some truly talented and wonderful people along the way and if it wasn’t for making films, I wouldn’t have these people in my life.
There’s also something about creating a legacy that’s ultimately got me on the hook. The idea of creating a piece of work to leave behind that might speak to people from future generations is pretty awesome. So do I think it’s cool that my children’s children’s children might stick The Pay Day on one evening and find themselves laughing at the same thing I did when making it? Definitely.
Watch the trailer for The Pay Day below
#Filmmaker #Interview #Sam #Bradford