As the 10th London Short Film Festival came to a close, i-D caught up with Nick Abrahams, winner of the Best Short Film Category.
Abraham’s has in the past made many short video projects and created music videos for Manic Street Preachers and Sigur Ros. His winning film, Ekki Mukk, which screened on i-D online last October, is a dreamy, experimental film featuring Aiden Gillen, who plays a man walking in the countryside, as he befriends a fox and a snail. Strange, beautiful, dark and intriguing, it shows huge potential for a feature film project, of which there is talk, so keep your eyes peeled.
What first inspired you to start making films? My father gave me his old Super 8 film camera when I was a teenager… it was a beautiful thing, it had 3 interchangeable lenses and just holding it made me feel like a filmmaker! So having that and going on trips to London to see films by Kenneth Anger, John Waters and Derek Jarman at the Scala cinema. You see, this was before the internet existed! But it really took off when I moved to London and went to gigs, all the time, and started documenting the ‘scene’ of the time. One day this band Cornershop said to me and my friend Mikey Tomkins, ‘why don’t you make a pop video for us?’ so we did.
Do you see a big leap between making music videos and creating fiction? Yes I do, in a film you want the music to be part of the sound design, so less in the foreground. Music videos are to me like small self contained artworks. A lot of the ones I have made have been shown in art galleries. Fiction is new to me, and has its own set of rules, which I am trying to learn.. and break. It’s a whole new adventure. Werner Herzog mentioned ‘the lack of adequate images in the world’ and that’s often how I feel, and partially what inspires me.
We’ve read this short is a pre-runner to a feature film. Could you give us a flavour of what the feature film will be like? I don’t want to say too much, but it is about a middle aged man with learning difficulties who finds himself having to walk home from Cambridge to London in the shadow of the M11 motorway. It’s a road movie on foot, and expands on the themes of life, loss, death and so on that are present in the short. When I was talking to people about the feature they just couldn’t picture things like a talking snail, and so I made this short partially as a way of showing how the natural world could be even more extraordinary than any digital special effects, that the world in our backyard could be as compelling as any science fiction movie, and that we have stories to tell that are uniquely British and with roots in a deeper, darker world of fairie and folk tales.
Who are your current favourite directors? Robert Bresson, Jean Vigo, Stanley Kubrick, Alexander Mckendrick, Kenneth Anger, Derek Jarman, Terence Davies, Bill Douglas, Pasolini, Dreyer, Fellini, Humphrey Jennings, Clio Barnard, Ben Rivers, John Waters, Nic Roeg, Ken Russell, Alan Clarke, Philippe Grandrieux, Powell and Pressburger, I could go on and on and on…! But also a lot of visual artists, who aren’t usually counted as directors, like, for instance, Fischli and Weiss, whose ‘the Way of Things’ is one of my all time favourite films.
Text: Joe Cohen
Portrait: Kyle Zeto