PAUL SNG, FILMONOMICS PLUS DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
Why do you think you are a Director/Producer?
I think it’s the best means I have of understanding issues and individuals I’m interested in and care about, while also attempting to raise awareness about the problems our society faces.
What’s your elevator pitch to describe the kind of films you make?
Documentaries about people and events that have been neglected, marginalised or misrepresented, presented with the voices of the people who the films represent.
Can you elaborate on why you are drawn to such material/style/genre?
Great documentaries are often multi-layered, exploring themes which confound our expectations and present narratives that make us question both ourselves and the world around us more deeply. And I like the potential that documentaries have to present ‘realness’ in a format that’s more creative and vibrant than a newspaper or a book.
If forced to give one tip to new people coming through what would it be?
Don’t let any perceived technical inability stop you from attempting to make a film. You can make a short doc fairly cheaply these days, so not having expensive equipment isn’t a barrier. Make something. Make mistakes, then learn from them and make new ones and learn from them, and so on…
And what pitfall would you’d say to a newcomer into your realm that is essential to avoid?
Get the legal forms signed before you do anything. And if you’re not good at admin, find someone who is.
Tell us about where you come from and how it filters into your work.
A documentary I directed about the decline of social housing was informed by growing up in Southeast London and hanging out on some of the estates we filmed.
Tell us about the latest film / exhibition / book / public figure / article to have inspired you.
I watched a documentary about Nawal El Saadawi recently [The Free Voice of Egypt, directed by Konstanze Burkard]. An inspirational woman: tough, brave, intelligent. She has never given up on her ideals, despite frequent persecution from those who fear her power to question religious dogma and upset the status quo.
What frustrates you about what you do?
The difficulty in getting funding.
How do you overcome this?
Work with low budgets.
Do you believe in the ‘female gaze’ and what does that mean to you?
Yes. I saw a statistic last year that said that the percentage of Hollywood films directed by women was the same in 2015 as it was in 1998. That has to change. Films directed by women are far more likely to present and represent women in ways that women want to see, yet male directors continue to dominate films targeted at women.