✻ We chat to Tommy Draper, writer of Brit indie flick ‘Songbird’, a modern day folk-horror fairy tale.
“I love fantasy movies, especially the films I grew up watching in the 80s. Films like ‘Labyrinth’, ‘Never Ending Story’, ‘Legend’, those kinds of fantasy films have always stuck with me from a young age.”
Produced by Triskelle Pictures, ‘Songbird’ is the latest independent film from multi-award-winning British screenwriter Tommy Draper (‘Pro Kopf’, ‘Stop/Eject’, ‘Wasteland’). ‘Songbird’ tells the story of Jennifer (Janet Devlin), a young singer who must go on a journey – and find her courage – in order to retrieve her stolen voice from a mysterious old woman known as ‘The Collector’.
Tell us about your new film ‘Songbird’, Tommy.
Simply put, ‘Songbird’ is a short fantasy drama. It tells of a female singer/songwriter called Jennifer, who has her voice stolen by an ancient creature called The Collector. Jennifer, has to go on a journey to get her voice back.
What is the inspiration behind ‘Songbird’?
There were quite a few influences on the movie. First off, I love fantasy movies, especially the films I grew up watching in the 80s. Films like ‘Labyrinth’, ‘Never Ending Story’, ‘Legend’, those kinds of fantasy films have always stuck with me from a young age.
Then there was the character of Jennifer and the singer/actress who played her, Janet Devlin. Janet was on ‘The X-Factor’ five years ago. At the time she was 16 and when creating the character of Jennifer I was listened to one of her songs. After that I read up about her, then watched her ‘X-Factor’ audition again. I based the character of Jennifer on the younger Janet Devlin, a shy young singer with masses of talent and wonderful voice. And lastly, a lot of the simple storytelling comes from reading children’s stories to my 2-year-old son. We love books like ‘The Gruffalo’. Simple stories set in a rich world became my aim to create, but for adults!
Where will we be able to see ‘Songbird’?
The plan, as always, is to get the film played in festivals, but this is never a certainty. Fingers crossed it will be played in festivals up and down the country and further. Alternatively, our crowdfunding page is still live. On there you can pre-order copies of the film, and other goodies. The address is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/’Songbird’-a-modern-fantasy-for-music-lovers
You’ve won quite a few awards; it must be great to get so much recognition after all the hard work?
Oh yeah, getting a film into a festival, getting an award or a nomination is great. It gives you that boost that you did something right, and weren’t crazy putting all that time and effort! I have been very lucky with the success of my films.
What gave you the inspiration to start writing?
I have always loved movies, though never really wanted to act or direct, or anything like that. Back in the ’90s there was a rush of great indie films released, films like Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks’, Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs’ were my favourites. It planted the seed that with a great script you can do a lot on a small budget. Years later, that’s what I try to do, create great characters in interesting situations, that don’t cost a small fortune to produce.
What’s the best part of seeing your work up on the screen?
Seeing an audience reaction, that’s the reason. I love it when an audience laugh at a funny line, or if you can see people engrossed in what’s on screen. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people are enjoying something that, at some point, only existed as an idea in your mind.
Which films have influenced you?
Lots and lots. I love so many different genres, like I mentioned above, films like ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Clerks’, but great scripts like ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Aliens’, ‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Quadrophenia’… I could go on listing films that I love, but that could take all night!
We Are Cult are suckers for a good zombie apocalypse film. I believe your 2013 film ‘Wasteland’ was inspired by the England riots in 2011?
Yeah, it kind of was! I had written the script, can’t remember what version it was, when the riots kicked off. And suddenly we found all these similarities between how the characters were talking about a zombie outbreak and the way the riots were being talked about by people and in the media. I seem to think there was a scene rewritten to reflect this, but it was a long time ago so can’t be sure.
Tommy, thanks for taking the time to chat to We Are Cult, all the best with Songbird.
✻ ‘Songbird’ is a Triskelle Pictures production.