Dan Sloan is a multi-award-winning filmmaker based in the North West of the UK.
Injecting his unique vision and love of storytelling into every project he is involved in, he is a writer, producer and director of short films, music videos and documentaries, and is fast becoming one of the most exciting emerging filmmakers in the UK.
He has become a friend and collaborator of the team at Film Earl’s Court, and his latest short, Swallow Your Dreams, will screen at ECIFF 2021. Starring Paul McGann and Amy Bailey (Vikings), the short featured at this summers’ sell-out festival fringe screening – Best of The Fest, at Underbelly’s London Wonderground Festival in Earl’s Court.
So, how did you meet, and begin to collaborate with, Film Earl’s Court?
I met Caroline Tod-Richardson at the Liverpool Short Film Festival in 2018, where she was one of the judges, along with Ricky Tomlinson and a couple other people. I won Best Short Film there, and then she invited me to participate in the Earl’s Court Film festival the following year. The judging panel selected my 2018 short film – Tory Baby – for screening, and, over time, we really got on. This summer my latest short film, Swallow your Dreams, a project that Caroline was Executive Producer on, made its London debut at a Film Earl’s Court screening event, and my team and I very much look forward to screening again at the upcoming Earl’s Court International Film Festival in November.
How important are development, funding and showcase relationships like the ones offered by Film Earl’s Court?
They are absolutely essential. I need to keep writing and creating great work and increasing my profile as a filmmaker at the same time. Film Earl’s Court wants to help – I have met some great actors, filmmakers and crew, many of whom I could and will work with in the future. What Film Earl’s Court does is unique, in that they collaborate and help to fund projects. It is absolutely vital that these supportive platforms and not-for-profit community-building initiatives exist.
From School Plays to the World Stage
I started to write screenplays at the age of 13. Supported by a brilliant English teacher, I was really into writing as a kid. I wrote the main end of year play in Year 11 – it was 30 minutes long. I looked at it the other day actually, and said to myself – how the hell did I do that? I was 15 then, and that was pretty cool.
In my teens and early 20s, I was writing plays and screenplays, and was always passionate about that, but really, really into film and a big film nerd. I would literally dissect film’s structures and analyze everything to the nth degree. But I didn’t actually make a film at that point – I did a visual arts degree, which is more fine art than a filmmaking course. I was always into music and bands, until I turned 27 – then I made my first five-minute short film proper, the film that Caroline picked for the 2019 Festival, and how me and her met.
Since then it’s been really busy. The last four years I have been making shorts, have produced six music videos, and written a couple of features that I’m trying to get off the ground at the moment. Next step is a TV series – I am pitching to one of the big networks this month, so it’s an exciting time!
What do you love about short film?
Besides the accessibility and convenience of making a short film, it is a great way to hone your craft, exploring ideas and trying different things out. It’s just a great, great medium. I like the challenge of trying to get across the same emotion that you get from a feature and trying to condense that into just a few minutes. It’s not easy to do. My goal is to try and get that across. I’m also really interested in structure and the techniques used to move an audience. So, it’s always fun, and from a practical point of view it’s a lot easier to do a short than it is a feature, obviously.
Has your short film success boosted your creative confidence?
Absolutely. I mean, people like Caroline and the team at Film Earl’s Court give people like me a big boost – you really want someone in your corner who can champion you and give you the extra confidence needed to take things forward. And it’s the same with making this latest short film, which is the first time I’d ever worked with leading professional actors – Paul McGann, of whom I am a big fan, and now he’s in my short film. Hard to believe! Same with Amy Bailey from Vikings – she’s really, really great.
It was a pleasure to work with quality professional actors like these – it’s also a kind of external validation that I am on the right track. We all crave recognition, and it’s good to have people to tell you you are heading in the right direction. When industry peers enjoy your work you can say to yourself, I must be doing something right!
Dan’s short film, Swallow Your Dreams, will be available to view during the upcoming Earl’s Court International Film Festival. Go to www.filmearlscourt.com for details.