We caught up with CFS Alumni, Ryan Daly about his filmmaking journey since graduating from Central Film School in 2022. Ryan studied on the MA Filmmaking degree and as part of the programme directed his own short film titled ‘The Price of a Princess’.
What was the inspiration behind the story ‘The Price for a Princess’?
Interestingly, the inspiration came after seeing the 2016 Suicide Squad movie. In that film, it showed the backstory of Deadshot, who lived his life as a criminal but only did it to support his daughter.
When I first saw the film, I thought “that would make an interesting short film”. I originally wrote the script for the film in 2018, during my BA film course at the University of East London: we were given our first screenwriting task and I wrote it as a five-minute screenplay. Upon feedback, I was told that the script would work better as a ten-minute short, so I kept the idea until I knew I was ready to make it.
At Central Film School when it came to our final graduation project, I used that old script as a basis and redrafted it as a ten-minute short.
What was the best part of the filmmaking process for you as director?
For me, the best part of the filmmaking process as the director was actually the casting and audition process. Casting was very important for the film, as it was strongly carried on two characters and the relationship they have. The chemistry on screen was paramount. The film also has a young character as the lead so I knew finding a child actress who could convincingly perform emotional scenes would be challenging. During the audition process, I found many talented child actors, each giving their take on the character. However, my final decision was made after conducting rehearsals with the top five actors for ‘Malk’ and ‘Princess’ where I could then see if the chemistry would work. Eventually, the actors I found to be the overall best were Jamaine Taylor and Ella Tekere.
On reflection, what did you learn from this filmmaking process?
I would say the main thing I learned from the process was that timekeeping and scheduling is very important. I also learned that you will face many challenges when it comes to filming on set and as the director, you need to figure out solutions to those challenges, sometimes right then and there. As the director, I learned you need to be ready for anything to happen and always be quick to come up with a solution.
How has the success of the film so far helped you as a filmmaker?
As of right now, it is only at the beginning of its festival run. It has already been selected at Cannes Shorts, where it got nominated for Best Actress, won best actress at the International World Film Awards and has been selected for Lift-Off Global Network. The fact that the film has already been selected for these festivals gives me confidence that my team and I made a quality film and being a first-time director and Ella being a first-time film actress is definitely an achievement.
What were you doing before applying to CFS?
Before CFS, I studied my undergraduate degree in film at the University of East London. However, while I was studying there for my undergraduate degree, I was still figuring out what I wanted to do in film. I was a pretty skilled editor at the time (and still am). I thought I would go down the editing route but by the end of the course, I knew I wanted to direct, which is why I decided to specialise in directing at CFS for my postgraduate filmmaking degree. My editing skills were still put to use as I also edited this film!
How has studying at CFS helped you in your journey so far?
Central Film School definitely helped me as a director, as the lessons and workshops taught us all the aspects of filmmaking in order to improve our skills. CFS also led me to contact Fully Focused Productions to undergo a work placement for an assessment. Working with them was very beneficial to me and I am still connected with them today.
What advice would you give to an aspiring CFS student?
I would say learn as much as you can, even if it’s not something you may be passionate about because every aspect of film is important! You may even develop a new skill that you didn’t expect to gain. For me, it was sound recording. The sound may seem very minimal but it is very important to your film. Bad sound can instantly make your film look amateurish, you could have amazing visuals but if the sound is bad then it will ruin your whole film.
During my time at CFS, my classmates found that I was best with sound, so I ended up doing sound for a lot of the MA graduate films and continue to do sound post-graduation.
If you could only watch one thing for the rest of your life, which film or TV box set would you pick?
That’s a tough question. If it was a film it would probably be my favourite movie, Back to the Future. If it was a TV show, then it would probably have to be The Chosen.
The Price for a Princess is currently screening at The Lift Off Sessions February 2023.
Lift-Off Sessions is a monthly competition that features a wide range of new and emerging indie content.
You can view the film in Programme 2 here (available until 20th February 2023).