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Interview with Tom de Ville, director of Corvidae
By James Whittington, Wednesday 5th September 2018
HC: This is your first short as a director, what inspired you to write this script?
TdV: I read a really interesting article about how smart crows are, in particular how they can hold grudges. Apparently a group of scientists had gone out and harassed a murder of crows whilst wearing masks. If they went back wearing the masks, the crows would remember them and fight back. If they didn't wear the masks, the crows would leave them alone. This made me start thinking about what would happen if someone tried to save a crow from a bunch of kids who were trying to kill it. Would the other crows from its murder remember this? And what would they do to help her?
HC: Maisie Williams carries the piece perfectly; did you write it with her in mind?
TdV: I actually wrote the short about fifteen years ago, way before Game of Thrones had shown the world how brilliant Maisie is. But when I had my first casting meeting with the film's producers - Alex and Nick - we realised immediately that Maisie was our first choice for the part, and we were thrilled when she agreed to come on board.
HC: What are the main differences when writing, say at TV episode compared to a script for a short?
TdV: Short films tend to be smaller, more contained pieces of storytelling. You have to really deliver the essence of the story in a more focused way (and generally for a lot smaller budget). I decided to focus in on that by making the film a mostly silent one, in which the story is purely told by the images and music.
HC: It's a smart and chilling fairy tale, very much in the traditional sense where the plot is very dark, were you influenced by any of the classics?
TdV: As a writer I've always been fascinated by fairy tales and the power they have over us when we're children. In many ways they're our first primer on how to face evil - gather your allies, find the magic sword, be brave, be clever and you might just win. In many ways horror films are fairy tales for grown-ups. They tend to teach the same lessons with a bigger body count. In particular, I really love the films of Guillermo Del Toro, that examine a part of fairy tales that often gets forgotten. In his world, the monsters aren't necessarily monsters, and true evil in the world tends to be very human.
HC: It looks as if you shot during very unseasonal weather, was it a tough shoot?
TdV: It was a brutal shoot! We shot in the middle of a very cold, wet December. The days were short so it was a challenge to get all the shots we needed and the fields and woods we shot in were a long way from the road we parked our kit truck on, so we had to carry all our gear out through the mud. I'm extremely grateful to the crew for braving it all. Corvidae was a real team effort and I couldn't have done it without them.
HC: There's some cool SFX, which one was the hardest to achieve?
TdV: It's hard to discuss them without giving a major moment in the film away, and at the moment I'm still trying to keep it under wraps! What I can say is that I was extremely nervous about that sequence and I was thrilled when Munky - the FX house who worked on the film showed me it for the first time, and I could see that it was going to work.
HC: Do you get nervous when your work is shown at festivals?
TdV: I was a little nervous before the film's premiere at FrightFest, but the crowd seemed to go along for the ride. It was really exciting to experience that for the first time, and now I'm ready to share it elsewhere.
HC: So, what are you working on next?
TdV: I've written another horror short which I'm hoping to shoot some time next year, and I'm also developing some ideas to turn Corvidae into a feature film. I've also got a couple of exciting TV projects that I'm hoping to talk about soon.
HC: Tom de Ville, thank you very much.
TdV: No, no, thank you!
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