Female Directors Season: Prano Bailey-Bond

An award-winning director whose worked with Film 4, Film London, Sony Music and Atlantic Records. We speak with Prano Bailey-Bond as part of our female directors interview season about working in the horror genre and being an award winning editor along with her directing role.

Interview by Emma Hanson.

Has directing always been something you've wanted to get into and now that you have, has it proved any different than what you expected?

Yes directing films is something I've wanted to do from a fairly young age - I had moments where I thought acting or directing theatre were things I wanted to pursue, but nothing gave me quite the same satisfaction as directing film. Has it proved different to what I expected? That's a really difficult question! It's been such a long time - I'm not sure I know what I expected way back then... I think, perhaps, when you first start making films there's a tendency to anticipate a time when you're going to have totally 'sussed' it, and everything will become much simpler and easier, but that doesn't happen. Maybe that applies to life in general though! With each project the scale grows, and therefore so do the challenges - so there's always something different or unique about every new project. I think the nature of filmmaking means it's always a creative vs logistical tug of war, but one that you can get weirdly hooked on. 

Still from Shortcut

Still from Shortcut

You tend to create dark and eerie horror, what is it about that particular genre that inspires you?

There's something about the horror genre where anything seems possible - it's very liberating for the imagination. I'm intrigued by the darker aspects of human nature - our fears, the things we repress, dark instincts. I also find the visual landscape of horror a really rich, delicious and exciting place to create. 

You've directed films, music videos and behind-the scenes, documentary and advertising projects. Which would you say you've enjoyed the most and why? 

I love my work and find any opportunity to create enjoyable, but narrative film is without a doubt my main focus, and the reason I became a filmmaker. Working with actors and telling stories through the craft of filmmaking is what I really enjoy. I like to be able to 'design' a fictional story and shape an experience for an audience. Saying that, I love the freedom of music videos - you can do anything within that medium and are not quite so tied down by logic, continuity or narrative. There's certainly something exciting to be gained from each medium. 

Still from Nasty

Still from Nasty

Your film 'Shortcut' was amazingly shot in just one day, unlike 'NASTY' which took much longer. Which gave you the most satisfaction and why?

Gosh - that's like choosing between your children! NASTY is a much more complex film than Shortcut in many ways and there would have been no way we could have shot that in a day. Every project has different requirements depending on the story. I would always prefer to have longer to shoot my films - time is one of the biggest challenges on any film set. If you only have one day it can be very stressful because you know you can't pick up anything you missed tomorrow - it's now or never. I also enjoy the camaraderie of a longer shoot - you're all on this stressful, brilliant journey together and I really love that aspect of filmmaking - for a short while you become a weird kind of tribe. 

Not only are you an award-winning director you're also an award-winning editor! How did your love for editing come about?

It happened very naturally really. I learned to edit when I was a teenager. First on linear VHS decks and then on non-linear digital software. I always found it such a satisfying and creative process, and it really taught me about atmosphere and how to put a story together. So I would edit my own films, and then I was working as a production assistant for a friends company and one day the editor didn't turn up, so I was asked to step in. I was very nervous to edit with a director in the room but it went well. From there I got my first freelance job, editing The Apprentice Africa in Nigeria and I lived there for almost a year, cutting that and other shows. The whole thing was such a brilliant experience, and editing 6 days a week for that long, you really learn a lot. It stepped up my editing and I think this had a big influence on my directing work too. Lately I don't edit so much, but I always encourage young filmmakers to learn to edit because it's such good training ground as a filmmaker.

Prano on set

Prano on set

 

For your music video 'Poltergeist' not only did you produce, direct and edit it, you also acted in it! How did you find taking on all those roles within one project?

That's how Poltergeist had to be made or it would have been a very different project. On that video I designed the production in a very specific way in order to be able to experiment and have more freedom on the shoot. I wanted minimum people on set, and minimum time constraints. Playing the characters myself meant that we could make the video with just me, my DOP Annika Summerson, and make up artist Natalie O'Connor, as well as a body double for some shots. It also meant we could have a fairly loose schedule. On set it was mostly just me and Annika. I had to have a fairly clear plan as I needed to shoot reverse shots for myself in different costumes, but being so few on set meant that, within this plan, we could come up with ideas on the spot and just play around a bit. I loved it and wish I could make more stuff like this. It was pretty battering playing all the characters myself though - I put myself through hell physically, and also learned a lot about the disconnect between what I think my face is doing, and what it's actually doing sometimes!

 

What would you say you're the most passionate about and why...Producing? Directing? Editing? Or Acting?

Directing, without a doubt. Most of the other roles I take on are embraced as a way to be able to direct, or to understand how to be a better director.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to up and coming directors what would it be?

Build a good team of collaborators around you - and experiment.

For more information on Prano, check out her links below!

Website | www.pranobaileybond.com

Twitter | @pranobaileybond

Vimeo | prano bailey-bond