Connor O’Hara, director, writer and producer, is an integral part and founder member of Lowkey Films, which began when he and friends, Alex and Jamie, sat down in his back garden in Surrey to talk film.
When I asked him, what attracted him to filmmaking he smiles;
“When I was nine I use to watch The Lord of the Rings like obsessively, and then I’d watch behind the sense stuff as well… it looked so good what they were all doing… But It just started me, Jamie and Alex going out into the woods and making small shitty zombie films.”
The original three are still working together, and have made over six shorts including Wander which toured film festivals and scooped awards across five continents. Connor said that being just outside London really helped them build a film company naturally, after the three made a few films they started to attract local recognition and people came to them with commissions.
“Now we work with the same people we worked for in the beginning, they’ve got day jobs in the film industry and we come back to make films together. We’ve grown together.”
Although Connor has recently been working on the new Star Wars episode and Mary Poppins he says that sometimes big films just don’t cut it.
“I love the indie film; I’d never stop it. With indie film, everyone seems to be coming together on a common goal”.
He argued keenly that indie films involve a passion and camaraderie that is individual to small-scale film production. It’s about the collective, the company rather than one or two big names.
“Everyone who has worked on it has put in as much effort. On an indie film, sometimes people aren’t even paid at all, but they want to be there and nobody complains because we are doing it together”. And, he says, when things go wrong, “It’s all part of the fun”.
“Filming Wander for instance, we walked three miles away from all cars because we wanted to be super alone and then the camera got so cold that it literally froze and wouldn’t turn on”
The skeleton crew of Wander were forced to retreat to a pub in the middle of nowhere and attempt to bring the camera back to life, warming it by the fire.
“Having almost no control makes it fun” grins Connor, “I love the sort of ‘make the best of it attitude’, if you go out and it’s raining but you wanted it to be sunny, it’s like ‘okay the scene is rainy then’.”
And sometimes a little more effort is needed to capture the perfect shot. The climactic scene in Wander was first shot in bright sunshine, Connor tells me, but on the final day of shooting it poured with rain so the team hacked back a few miles to the same spot and reshot the drama in an appropriate rain storm.
The good thing about Wander is that it has a very flexible style, common by necessity in many well-crafted short films.
“I wanted to do something where we had a bit of freedom, because we only had a small crew.” Says Connor, “When we went to edit it we ended up completely restructuring the script to tell an updated version of the story, so it was quite nice to have that freedom of it being all voiceover”.
I ask him why he wanted to make Wander and he admits:
“When I watch it now it seems like a stranger did it, when I wrote it I was feeling really down and quite miserable… it’s like a snapshot of how I felt at the time. Not that I’m considering committing cannibalism.”
“It’s really fascinating, if something like an apocalypse happened; how would people react? What would we do to keep ourselves alive, and would we prioritise human relationships or would we end up committing things like cannibalism, as a last resort? Would we forget everything that makes us human?”
Lowkey Films are also currently working on their first feature production. A feature-length version of Infinite, their critically acclaimed short, is in the works. Watch this space.
By Anna Whealing.
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