The BYT Interview: Stefan Georgiou

Stefan Georgiou graduated from the National Film & Television School. His debut feature film, the romantic comedy Dead Cat was selected by Film London to screen at the BFI and went on to win a host of awards, including Best Emerging Director at the Oaxaca Film Festival. Selected as a Star of Tomorrow by Screen International magazine in 2011, Stefan's short film Sexlife was chosen for this year’s prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York, the only British short film to be selected out of 3,000.

unnamed.jpg

Huge congratulations on SexLife being selected for Tribeca. Do you have any particular films or people you're looking forward to seeing when you're out there?
I've got a few meetings with producers out in New York that I'm looking forward to. It's an ambition of mine to direct in the US so to talk to potential future collaborators about what I'm working on is exciting. Festivals for me are about watching and discovering those films you never thought you would.

Your graduation film, Ratios was awarded a special commendation at the TCM London Film Festival. What would you say is the main thing you learned from making that film that you still keep with you today?
Ratios was such a long time ago! In all honesty, at that stage of my development of making shorts I feel that you learn as much about what not to do, and that certainly rang true for me. Looking back I guess it gave me the confidence to believe that I could take a story that originated in my mind, put a version of that on screen and not be embarrassed of it, which is important...

Is there a defining moment, or are there any defining films that made you want to be a filmmaker?
I remember one of the first film projects I worked on at school, having a vision in my mind of what I wanted to achieve and chasing that. Once it all came together I got a buzz that I'd never experienced working on anything else. At that point a teacher/mentor of mine told me he thought it was very good and hearing that gave me a belief in my ambitions. I haven't looked back since.

You've worked for clients as varied as Amazon, Adidas and the Tate. What's the most surprisingly enjoyable thing about working with such huge companies?
I think the most surprisingly enjoyable thing about working with big clients is that at its core it's no different than smaller clients. It's always about the idea and executing that to it Oaxaca Film Festival s maximum potential. Those companies are really interested in exploring the possibilities of what can be achieved, about being passionate about what they do and not settling and I think that's key to their success.

Even though SexLife is a short film, you also recently directed a feature, Dead Cat. What are the differences, if there are any, between the way you prepare for a feature versus a short?
I think fundamentally the preparation for the project/material in terms of its content is the same. The difference is the level of logistical organisation and the pressure on you to deliver. There's a much higher investment in time/finance/skills and I think people have bigger expectations for a feature film, and so you have to deal with delivering that. But the positive is the length of the project also gives you a wonderful opportunity to find a filmmaking rhythm, which is more difficult to find on a short.

What advice would you give to any young filmmakers trying to get noticed in the current climate?
The advice I try to follow is to keep putting yourself in a position to make things. Everything is there for filmmakers to go out and tell their stories; I've found that what works best in the industry is a completed project, a tangible, visual product that best expresses your filmmaking voice. Keep trying to show audiences what you believe makes you special and different from every other filmmaker.
 
Is there any chance you can tell us what you're working on currently? Just so we can start getting properly excited!
I'm currently writing and developing a comedy/drama TV series with my co-writer Sam Bern, that's an extension of the themes and characters from our feature film Dead Cat. I have a short film called Guide Me Home that I'm excited about and looking to be the next film I direct. I'll then concentrate wholeheartedly on my next feature. I’m writing the script at the moment, and I can’t wait to make it.