Drama and documentary filmmaker Evy Barry talks about her experience with the film festival circuit and her successful short period drama Winged Warriors, which has proven itself in the lime light.
Barry’s background is in documentary film making in television, for which she has shot material for over ten years.
EB: ‘The amazing thing about doing that job is that you get to go places and meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet, and ask them some incredibly personal questions. I like talking to people, I like finding things out and I think if you’re a creative person as well and you get to do that for your job, you’re quite lucky’
After completing her training at The National Film and Television School, Barry followed her first passion: Directing drama.
EB: At the end of the course, the tutor said to me: ‘You’ve got it’ I said: ‘What do you mean?’ And he said: ‘Whatever a drama director is, you are it’ and I thanked him.’
Barry’s Winged Warriors confirms this statement on every level. Together with BAFTA winning cinematographer Fred Fabre and a professional cast and crew of 20 people, Barry shot her 12-page script inspired by her Great Gandfather’s experience in the First World War, over the course of two days. The synopsis: The remnants of a British Army platoon reach the enemy trenches. They have three chances to get out: The three messenger pigeons.
The production was challenged by weather, time pressure and not to mention: The pigeons.
EB: ‘Pigeons get stressed if you handle them too much […] The shot came for the actor to launch the pigeon in the air, and he threw it upwards, all of the cast and crew cast their eyes to the heavens and there was nothing launching itself towards the horizon at all. So all eyes dropped down to the floor, and the pigeon had just kind of plopped in a lump onto the ground. Apparently it had been a bit stressed by being handled such a lot, and it stood there for about five minutes and then it finally flew off… and we had to wait. The handler was on set to help us, but I have to say there was great hilarity among everybody on set and 20 people killing themselves laughing, was quite a loud thing to behold. It was quite funny.’
Barry addresses the messenger pigeon as one of the main challenge, however she also points out that attention to detail is vital when shooting a period drama. She speaks about the specific uniforms and ways of wearing them, having similar looking pigeons for different takes of the same scene and last but not least, having the correct gun fire sound added in post production.
After finishing it, Barry arranged at cast and crew screening and received great ovations.
EB: ‘They applauded wildly and I thought ‘Yes!’ Perhaps this is the way it’s gonna go, and that it was gonna play all around the world on the festival circuit. And it didn’t quite happen like that […] It’s taken 18 months or so, you can’t predict the festival run for your film. You don’t know what the festival strategy is for that year. As filmmaker it is quite easy to get disheartened. You just have to remember that feeling that you had when you shouted: ‘Wrap!’ Because you did it.’
Winged Warriors has shown in various film festivals around the world, such as GI Film Festival in Washington, Veteran Film Festival Australia, Canada Film Festival where it received a Rising Star Award, Manchester Film Festival where it received an honourable mention. and so on. In order to find the right festivals for her film, Barry used the strategies and expertise of Katie McCullough and Festival Formula. Festival Formula is an organization, which provides film makers with submission strategies for festivals. Barry outlines the importance of analyzing festival’s strategies for each submission year.
EB: ‘Katie said to me to not enter my film at Sundance, because it’s not their type of film. I think a lot of filmmakers just enter their film for the top festivals without possibly looking at the type of films that they accept. So you could waste a lot of money doing that,’
After completing Winged Warriors she has moved on to her latest short drama called Exposure, which explores the relationship between an ailing mother and her two adult daughters. Barry’s essential advice for filmmakers whether they are at submission stage for festivals or at script writing stage, is to keep on going and keep on learning.
EB: ‘I think there is nothing more crushing when youre starting out than being rejected. You think that you’re no good and maybe you should give up. But actually: No. You made all this effort and you want people to watch your film. So there you go.