Reel Islington: Q&A with director Sophie Ansell Paper Cuts Still 2 - Still from 'Paper Cuts' Full view

Reel Islington: Q&A with director Sophie Ansell

Sophie Ansell is one of the directors that entered into this year’s Reel Islington Film Festival Short Film Awards under the theme ‘Home is where I want to be…’, screening this Friday (February 28). In the next of our festival series, we talked to her about her film ‘Paper Cuts’, the idea for which came to her “whilst clearing up dirty glasses after odious businessmen  at 3am”
Still from 'Paper Cuts'
Still from ‘Paper Cuts’
 1) How long have you been pursuing a career in film?

‘Paper Cuts’ is my first ‘proper’ short film. Prior to that I had been experimenting with moving image, video art and stop motion animation for a couple of years.

2) How did you get into filmmaking?

Messing around with film was, for me, a natural progression from my obsession with photography. Five years ago I moved to London,  signed up to art school, took pictures constantly and (naively) fully expected to become a photographer. I was never really satisfied with reality and was constantly trying to design, tweak and stage my pictures and somewhere along the line I ended up as a set designer.

The director © Sophie Ansell
The director © Sophie Ansell

3) What kind of projects have you done so far?

I’ve done Transylvanian forests, a 1950s prison infirmary, a travelling Commedia dell’arte sideshow and I am currently working on the funeral parlour of the future. I love designing and making bizarre worlds, especially ones the audience can experience. This has led me to design and make installations for immersive theatre, including for companies such as Secret Cinema.

4) Can you tell me about the film you submitted to the festival?

I would say that I have a theatrical, somewhat camp bent which definitely influences my film work. The design of ‘Paper Cuts’ was inspired by early cinema, especially the work of Georges Méliès. It is an absurd fairytale about a bored bartender and, as much as it is inspired by my love for the great ‘cinemagician’, it is equally stirred up from my hatred of bartending. Actually, maybe hatred is too strong a word, but the idea definitely came to me whilst clearing up dirty glasses after odious businessmen  at 3am.

5) Do you have any connections to Islington in particular?

Yeah, the London borough of Islington was where I lived for my first year in London! I can’t believe how much I took it for granted, now that a lack of money has pushed me out to Zone 3! I have also worked at various Islington drinking establishments over the years (some lovely, some inspiring enough hatred to make a short film). I also studied at CSM [Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design] for four years.

6) What are your plans for the near future?

I would really like to make a documentary, possibly about the Tottenham Jobcentre.


If you want to catch Sophie’s film Paper Cuts at the festival on Friday, you can book tickets for the Short Film Awards, which will take place from 8-9pm at Resource For London, 356 Holloway Road, hereYou can also watch the film here.

Written by Yannic Rack

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