A Film Doesn’t Write Itself and I Had About a Thousand Instances of Writer’s Block by Sam Lloyd

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Sam Lloyd – Writer/Director of BABY SHOES

 

Film Courage:  Where did you grow up?

Sam Lloyd:  I grew up in a large town called Hastings in England. I hate Hastings, still do and always will. It’s a filthy town where nothing ever happens. Actually, some of the hatred I have of this town has gone into my new film, but I digress. My up-bringing was unconventional too due to the fact I was bullied relentlessly at school due to my weight and being ginger (why do people hate gingers?!). So for the majority of my childhood I was taught at home by my Mum and by my Nan, Rita. She sadly passed away last year and I miss her greatly, she was a big influence and inspiration to me because she was an incredibly brave woman and always taught me to aim high in my life.

Film Courage:  Which of your parents do you resemble most?

Sam:  I don’t physically look anything like either of my parents but I’ve inherited my lack of patience from my Mum. I don’t know if I’m really anything like my Dad but I know we both sound the same on the phone. My Mum thinks I look like a Weeble, which I find highly offensive actually. At one point last year I thought I was going bald like my Dad but luckily it was just a false alarm.

“I’ve always loved Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Though I’m a bit young to have seen them in the cinema. I think John Hughes was a genius filmmaker. His films have such heart and make you feel something. They’re warm.”

Sam Lloyd, Writer/Director of BABY SHOES

 

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Sam as a toddler

Film Courage:   Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?

Sam:  Yes. They always encouraged me to pursue my ideas. They’ve never wanted me to be anything other than what I am. I’m very grateful for that. They knew I wanted to make films or be an artist from a very early age. So when I turned 16 my Mum did push me towards a media course at college which turned out to be terrible. But I did learn a lot from it. Mainly that no one cares about art anymore.

Film Courage:   First memory of going to the movies?

Sam:  I don’t remember my first time going to the cinema. The first film I remember watching is Robocop, which I was far too young to watch. I loved that film and still do. I remember having to re-track the VHS player every time because the tape was so worn down. I think I’ve been mentally scarred from watching that film so many times. I also remember Toy Story. In fact, that might have been the first film I saw at the cinema. I remember Randy Newman’s music especially… “You’ve got a friend in me. You got troubles? I got ’em too. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you…” God, I love that song.

Film Courage:   What were your plans after high school?

Sam:  My plans after college were to go to university, which I did. BIG MISTAKE. I would advise anyone to not go to university. It’ll suck all of the creativity and imagination out of your brain. The thing is, all I wanted to do was make films. I wasn’t interested in theory and studying. The lecturers are just the most single-minded, dull, and frankly evil people I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. However, I shouldn’t speak for everyone. Some people like it. It wasn’t for me. I left after six months after becoming seriously ill and got a job as a cook in a care home.

Film Courage:   What is a quote or piece of advice a college professor said which never left you?

Sam:  “You’re lazy. So lazy. I’m so disappointed.” This was from my course leader at university. I didn’t pay £9000 a year for comments like that. I’m paying your salary, love!

Film Courage:  Growing up was there one movie going experience that changed everything for you? 

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Sam:  Funnily enough, I don’t watch that many films and never have. I love making them but not watching them so much. I have to be in the right mood. However, I’ve always loved Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Though I’m a bit young to have seen them in the cinema. I think John Hughes was a genius filmmaker. His films have such heart and make you feel something. They’re warm.

Film Courage:   Do you have a mentor?

Sam:  Yes. Though he wasn’t a mentor. But he was the only person at college who ever encouraged me to make films. His name was Simon. He was a great tutor and taught me a lot. I think I had talent to begin with but he really brought it out of me and he introduced me to a group of other talented filmmakers photographers where my skills really blossomed.

Film Courage:   Tell us details about the day you met the man who inspired Baby Shoes?

Sam:  I was on a photography assignment taking pictures of the horizon from the clifftops near my home. I felt someone walking behind me and turned around to see a homeless man standing there. I thought he was going to push me off but instead he asked my about my camera. Anyway, we started talking and he told me his life story. He’d been made redundant, he was kicked out of his home and disowned by his family all the way up in Scotland. So he traveled 600 miles to his hometown of Hastings by any means necessary. He stole rides, he hitchhiked he even stowed away in the back of a lorry just to get home, where he belonged. I told him that his story would make a great film and he said if I ever got the change to make a film about him then I could. So I went home and started writing Baby Shoes.

Film Courage:   Once you heard this man’s story, how did you begin to view your own life after knowing what he went through?

Sam:  Well, our lives seemed to run parallel in a way. Though I sill had a home, we’d both had a crap time of late. I’d recently lost my job and was struggling to make ends meet. So I did feel lucky to be alive. I felt like you do after surviving a serious illness. You’re so happy to be alive but a few days later you just feel like normal.

Film Courage:   How many short films did you make before feeling you’re ready to make a feature?  Were other people saying it was time for you to make a feature?

Sam:  I’d made about twelve short films in the past ranging from 3-30 minutes. I’d never had an idea that I could expand into a feature film until I came up with Baby Shoes and I knew once I started writing that I wanted to make it my first full length film. People had asked about my work before and said that I should stick to short films. But how many short films do you see in the cinema now? None.

Film Courage:   Where does the name Baby Shoes come from?

Sam:  I named the film Baby Shoes because it explores life. The two main characters, Paul and James, learn so much from their time together. It’s like learning to walk. It also has another meaning which would spoil a major part of the film if I explained it. So I won’t.

Film Courage:   During the 12 months you took working in the idea, where did you go for inspiration and to write? Is it something you have worked on everyday?

Sam:  I’m lucky to live near the coast. Although I hate the town I live in it does have some beautiful views. And nothing is more inspiring than a good view. It also happens that a large chunk of the film takes place in Hastings so I have a pretty good idea of the feeling of the town. Although I’m making it sound like it was easy to write. It wasn’t. It didn’t write itself and I had about a thousand instances of writer’s block. I did work on the film everyday for at least an hour. Doesn’t sound like a lot but sitting and staring at a blank page for an hour is extremely mentally draining. I couldn’t be a writer full-time.

Film Courage:   How did you know this was a feature film idea?

Sam:  As I mentioned earlier. It was the first film idea I’d had that I actually wanted to expand upon and make into a feature. You really need a multi-layered and character-driven story in your head before you even start writing.

Film Courage:   Why is it important for you to make a feature film?

Sam:  Its important to make this film because it has a unique message and a true heartfelt meaning to it. So many films released now are flavourless. They follow the formula and the trends of what’s already popular eg. the recent tirade of Marvel films. Which is all well and good but it isn’t very interesting from a storyteller’s point of view. I think the audience is smarter than we think and they enjoy a good story with complex characters.

Film Courage:   Where are you getting the equipment from?

Sam:  The shoot will be quite short, eight days at the most. So cameras and rigging will all be rented. If it was a longer shoot I’d consider buying equipment but for this its not worth it.

Film Courage:   What about your cast and crew?

Sam:  I’ve been inundated with requests to be in the film. I released a page of the script to some friends the other week and somehow it spread to different people. I’ve had people from all over the world asking for a part and asking about James’ mysterious history. Its wonderful. However casting won’t commence until August this year.

Film Courage:   What do you want audiences to gain from watching Baby Shoes?

Sam:  When people watch Baby Shoes they will learn a lot about the characters in the film and consequently they will learn a lot about themselves and how they treat the people they love. I’d like for people to take something away from the film. Even if its just the enjoyment of being engaged in the story. Cinemas don’t show enough independent story/character-driven films but they do exist. You need to go to independent cinemas to see them as they aren’t shown in the chain cinemas. Its a shame but its true.

Sam_Lloyd_Baby_Shoes_Filmcourage_2Film Courage:   Had you ever befriended another homeless person?  Why was this man special to you?

Sam:  No, it was a complete coincidence when I met the man who inspired Baby Shoes. but he was special to me because, at the time, I really related to his story because of things that were happening to me in my personal life. I don’t think I’d have written this film if I hadn’t had sympathy with him.

Film Courage:   If you had to start over in life, what would keep you with some sense of hope and from giving up?

Sam:  Well, I’ll let you know when I get somewhere worth getting. You just need to do what you believe in and don’t let peoples’ opinions get in your way. If you feel like you HAVE to do something, creatively or otherwise, then do it. Everyone wants to be remembered for something when they die. I know I do and you’ll only do something worth remembering if you do what YOU believe in.

Film Courage:   What’s next for you creatively?

Sam:  At the moment all my time is going into Baby Shoes. But who knows what the future holds? Its almost too scary to think about.

 

 

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BIO:

Sam Lloyd is a filmmaker from Hastings, England. He began experimenting with filming and photography at a very early age and soon developed a taste for film-making. He studied film and cinematography at college and university and was commended for his unique visual style. He has since made several short films that have been shown all around the UK in festivals and universities. He has just finished the screenplay for his first feature film called ‘Baby Shoes’ and is now seeking funding for production.

Baby Shoes Synopsis:

Baby Shoes is a film about a man called Paul. He loses his job, his home and all his possessions in a fire and winds up in a homeless shelter where he meets a man called James. James is a strange man with an even stranger background but, despite their differences, the duo build an unconventional friendship. They must travel to the other side of the country to get Paul’s home and life back but encounter several unfortunate occurrences along the way. And, unbeknown to Paul, James has an ulterior motive for their long journey.