Original interview here.
After discovering a large collection of handwritten postcards in a secondhand shop, filmmaker Scott Willis begins a journey to track down their owner. The messages on the postcards create a picture of unknown man called Peter. But with the collection spanning over seventy years, a reunion seems unlikely. Who was Peter? How did his life end? And what happens to us when our time is up?
Hey Scott, it’s great to talk to you, how’s your 2018 been going so far?
What does it feel for you to be screening your film Dear Peter at this years British Shorts in Berlin?
Having previously screened my short film TAPES FROM THE REVOLUTIONARY at British Shorts in Berlin, I am aware that this is a great opportunity for an audience to connect with short film. DEAR PETER is joining a strong programme of shorts made by filmmakers whom I have became friends with over the years. Therefore it is charming to see our work travel together… I am slightly envious that my work has left the United Kingdom more times than I have, hopefully it will send me a postcard!
Are there any nerves ahead of the screening in Berlin?
None, I have full faith in my diocalm tablets.
You’ve already had a great festival run with Dear Peter, what has it been like sharing this film with festival audiences?
Sharing my short film,Dear Peter with film festival audiences has been fun. Film festival screenings provide a platform to share how you see the world and form a connection with an audience… from a safe distance.
Tell me a little bit about Dear Peter, how did this film come about?
Whilst working in a bookshop, a large collection of art postcards were handed in for us to sell.
The postcard collection began in 1942 and ended in 2011. They were all addressed to the same person. The messages on the back of the postcards created a picture of unknown man called Peter. I began to ask… Who was Peter? How did his life end? As the film documents, I purchased them all and began a journey motivated to find the answers to those questions. The film highlights that when we are no longer alive, the foot steps of our identity can present itself in abstract forms.
When you discovered the postcards how soon was it before you realised that this would make a great story for a short film?
As soon as I found the postcards I knew that there was a film to be made however I did not know what form the story would present itself. Once I discovered Peter was alive and how unique his personality is, the film incorporated a traditional observational form. However I only discovered Peter was alive during production hence the beginning of the film has an abstract and ethereal feel.
What has been the challenge you’ve faced bringing this to life?
Paying for film festival submissions.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?
I miss the ignorance I had when I made my first handful of films therefore in an attempt to gain that freedom I have been producing and distributing films under different names. Each pseudonym engages within a different market.
What inspires your work?
As a filmmaker, I get excited by the process of retrieving materials from the idea of an objective reality, similar to found object art. An absurd reality that does not have a structure. It is the deconstruction of those findings within the films post-production that excites me; new meanings emerge and the world becomes more intriguing.
As my work process is derived from the idea of retrieving materials and treating film as if it were sculpture. My films have mainly been focused on objects and the people they come into contact with.
For anyone out there thinking about making their first film what advice would you offer them?
My advice for first time filmmakers is to ignore your condescending uncle. We all have one, some with less hair than others.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
I hope that the audience will feel connected on an emotional level with Peters character. At twenty six minutes it can seem quite long for a short film but it is that time spent with Peter I feel enables an audience to feel invested into his charm. Overall, I want the audience to question what will they leave behind when they are no longer alive.
Dear Peter will be screening at Lichtspielklub Short Film Festival 2018 within their British Shorts documentary programme in Berlin, Germany. Good times! Previously the festival has screened my work before, my documentary Tapes From The Revolutionary was apart of their 2016 programme… so it is good to be apart of the festival again!
Dear Peter will be screening at Sputnik Kino on 18:00 15th January.
After discovering a large collection of handwritten postcards in a secondhand shop, filmmaker Scott Willis begins a journey to track down their owner. The messages on the postcards create a picture of unknown man called Peter.
But with the collection spanning over seventy years, a reunion seems unlikely. Who was Peter? How did his life end? And what happens to us when our time is up?
Dear Peter directed by Scott Willis. Music composed by Josh Sabin and Sound Design by Keith Duncan.
W I N N E R – Scotland Audience Award Glasgow Short Film Festival 2016
N O M I N A T I O N – BAFTA SCOTLAND NEW TALENT AWARDS 2016: FACTUAL
N O M I N A T I O N – Shortlisted for The Independent Award : Creative Edinburgh Awards 2016.