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Night Owls

15 December 15 words: Ashley Carter
We speak to local director Sophie Black about her latest short film
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The two main characters in Sophie Black’s new short film, Night Owls, existed long before she sat down to pen the script with co-writer Tommy Draper. “The story of Night Owls, as all good stories do, came to me in a dream over a decade ago,” says the Nottingham filmmaker. The narrative of two lost souls coming together and forming an instant, if unlikely connection, has taken many forms since that initial dream, but three years ago Black decided that a short film was the perfect platform on which to present them. Teaming up with award-winning writer, Draper (Pro Kopf), Black created a script that was successfully funded through Kickstarter. Almost  a year later, Night Owls had its first cast and crew screening at Broadway Cinema. “It was pretty exhausting, bringing everything together in time, but it was worth it to see such positive reactions to the film - not just from people directly involved in it, but from their family members as well.”

The short stars Johnny McPherson (Emmerdale) as Kent, a thirty-something living a reclusive life in his inherited mansion. His evening is interrupted by the arrival of Mari (newcomer Holly Rushbrooke), a teenage runaway seeking shelter from a raging storm. Kent reluctantly allows Mari in, on the condition that she leaves as soon as the weather improves. The two instantly form a bond, and over the course of a single evening open up to one another about the difficulties they’ve faced in life.

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Due to an unforeseen, last-minute casting change, Rushbrooke only had three days to learn the part, which was also her first acting role on film. With both facts considered, her performance is even more admirable than it seems on first viewing. She plays off the subtleties of McPherson’s accomplished performance beautifully, doing more than justice to a very good script. Black’s direction too is subtly effective, utilising the strengths of both actors, as well as a stunning location. The latter caused one of the bigger problems during production; “We struggled to find the perfect location for quite some time – one which was simultaneously grand and affordable,” Sophie explains. “Thank God I had not one, but two, great producers on this project, who kept me positive the whole time.”

Those said producers were Lauren Parker (Lab Rats) and Sophia Ramcharan (Happy New Year), who, along with Director of Photography Neil Oseman (The First Musketeer) and Art Director Anya Kordecki (Amelia’s Letter), formed a crew that director Black describes as more like “an extended, slightly eccentric family.”

Black’s previous short film, Ashes, was available to view at the 2013 Cannes Short Film Corner, where it was offered distribution deals. Night Owls looks set to follow with festival success of its own, having already been accepted into the London Short Film Festival. “LSFF is one that I've been trying to crack for a while. I've had films rejected by them in the past, and I was fully prepared for the same to happen with Night Owls. But I think it's testament to the film, and to the work of my great producers, that it was accepted. I love this story as much as I did when I was fifteen. The shoot was an absolute dream, and I can’t wait to see what Night Owls does next.”

Night Owls Trailer

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