Friday 17 August 2012

Interview with Brett Snelgrove

Brett Snelgrove is an Australian writer/producer living in the UK. He is best known for the short film Domestic and the animated web series New Eden. When he isn't taking holidays in Italy, Brett works as a social media engagement moderator in London.
     I met him online when he popped up with a comment. Turns out he lives his job. Brett has the best writing/filmmaking social media connections of anyone I've come across. He is also one of the most helpful people you could hope to meet.


*  Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Sydney and spent the first half of my life growing up on a farm in Mount Gambier in South Australia, and then our family pulled up stumps and headed to sunny Queensland where I spent my formative teen years and university years.

Queensland University of Technology
*  When did you first take an interest in films/stories?

Growing up, I was always interested in making up stories and writing. At university I studied drama and play writing. From there it was a hop, skip, and jump into film and television.

*  What was your first paying job?

My first full-time job was working as a multimedia assembler for a real Dodgy Brothers outfit in Sydney. My first job in telly was working as a contestant coordinator on The Weakest Link. My first paid writing gig was helping Natasha Tonkin co-write a feature. The script was never produced, but we're still great mates to this day.

*  What was your first spec script about?

My first full length play at university was called Uniforms and you guessed it, it was about being a teenager in high school. Not very inspired. My first feature spec screenplay was called Bankrupt, which went behind the scenes of a TV quiz show and its contestants.

*  Who has had the most influence on you as a filmmaker?

On the writing side of things I had some wonderful tutors at the QUT drama programme (Hilary Beaton and Louise Gough and Sean Mee) whose insight and knowledge into the craft of storytelling I still carry with me today.
    In terms of filmmaking I don't think I can name one single person who has influenced me. At the moment I'm inspired by the talent that can be found on YouTube, Vimeo and Newgrounds.

*  You worked in Australian television (Australia’s Brainiest Kid, Nerds FC, NEWStopia), before moving to the UK. The highlight appears to have been working with comedian Shaun Micallef back in 2008. Can you tell us how you got that job, and anything you learned?

I had worked for Fremantlemedia and the production manager on NEWStopia for several years on various other shows, so it was a case of being lucky enough to be offered the job as researcher/script coordinator. One of my best gigs I've ever had in telly—simply a great time.
    There are two key things I learned from Shaun:
1. Comedy is subjective, and
2. For better or worse, you have to write/make what makes you laugh.

*  Since you’ve been in London you’ve been an active member of ScriptTank. That’s an unusually professional-sounding screenwriting group. Can you tell us a bit about it.

ScriptTank is a writer's group made up of professional and emerging writers working in television, film, radio and theatre, who get together once a fortnight to listen to a member's work being read. We have actors do the reading and afterwards feedback is moderated by a chairperson to help the writer get the most value out of the feedback.
    I've had several different things, at various stages of development, read there, and always came away with feedback that I could work with.

*  We all have to keep the wolf from the door, while pursuing our dreams. You’ve been working for a UK company called Tempero as a “social media engagement moderator.” That sounds like the sort of job title Shaun Micallef might have invented to impress his mother. Tell us what you do and who you do it for.

I moderate forums and website comments for a range of Tempero clients. It basically means checking that everything that goes public on a client's site is within their guidelines and isn't offensive or defamatory, etc. I also do what is called 'engagement' or 'live engagement,' which involves posting and interacting on a client's behalf on their Twitter or Facebook pages.

*  What are your plans for the London Olympics?

My partner and I are escaping the London Olympics and heading to Italy for two weeks of real sunshine. At Tempero I work shifts. At any one time there is more than one of us working on a client's property, so taking holidays is relatively easy. 

You’ve just released the Pilot episode of a webseries you created, called New Eden. What is the history behind the idea, and how did it come to be made?

New Eden sprang out of my desire to write something inspired by my love of sci-fi and comedy, that was as far removed from Roddenberry’s altruism and Lucasmythos as possible. It started with the simple gag of the 'red button' and these two nobodies trapped on an alien planet, and grew from there. It was one of those things that just really made me laugh, and I couldn't help but write it. When I was in London I took a punt and advertised for an animator to collaborate with me on it, and discovered talented Dutch animator Freek van Haagen. It's now not just my baby but both of ours. To date we've released a pilot episode and a series of shorts, all of which you can find here:

*  What are three things you wish someone had told you about filmmaking when you were starting out?
  • Don't think so much and just go out and shoot, and then shoot some more, and then shoot some more.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people, not just willing, but eager to join you on your crazy adventure.
  • Find a core group of peers who can give you good constructive criticism and listen to them. Avoid the critics who love the sound of their own voice.
And, as a bonus, a fourth piece of advice:
  • Make something because you want to, not because you want to impress someone, or fit into whatever box they seem to think your work should fit into.
*  Tell us something about living in London, and rubbing shoulders with celebs. Any famous encounters, conquests? Have you met many Australians living there?

Well, you won't find many celebs on the Tube, so no great encounters as yet. There are plenty of Aussies though in London. Some of the best brunch places in London were established by Aussie and Kiwi expats.

*  What one filmmaking advice book would you recommend to a young wannabe screenwriter in Adelaide?

I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Rodriguez's Rebel Without a Crew. More inspirational than instructional, I would say, but a good read. The other thing I would add is to check out the Australian Film Television and Radio School's range of books, as well as the Michael Wiese Productions range of books, which tend to be informative and a good read.

*  Name ten of your all-time favourite movies.
Okay, let's see... in alphabetical order: 

Written and produced by Brett Snelgrove, Domestic is a HD short film based on an award winning play of the same name. It has screened at over twenty film festivals and won the 2006 St Kilda Film Festival's Editing and Craft awards, plus numerous accolades for best film, best actor and audience choice.
In this Kung-Fu epic, two cheating lovers confront each other, resulting in one crazy pumped up fight sequence. Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
It's crouching lover, hidden agenda, when a couple puts their relationship and martial-arts skills to the test in this short film about fidelity, forgiveness, and how to turn domestic objects into menacing weapons.

Directed by Katie Hides, written and produced by Brett Snelgrove.

    Blog    IMDb    LinkedIn    Shooting People    Twitter    YouTube   


Kathy said...

This is an excellent movie. Thanks for the generous interview and the detailed illustrations, Henry, I always learn so much from this blog.

Angela Taylor said...

Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with us via this blog. I enjoyed reading this blog this is really interesting. Keep sharing this kind of amazing stuff..!!
If you are searching for quality student accommodation your search ends here..
WSU Village Bankstown Sydney