INTERVIEW: British writer and filmmaker Max Marlow
Hi Max, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hello! Thank you for having me – awesome film reviews by the way. I’ve been busy juggling personal projects and my industry job, but very fortunate to be able to crack on with both at the same time.
How were you drawn into the world of screenwriting?
I think my love for screenwriting really stems from my passion for storytelling – it just so happens that stories are best told through the medium of Film.
I remember watching summer blockbusters as a kid, coming home from the cinema and recreating the movies with a friend on their older sister’s camera-phone. Imagining what scenes we were going to put ourselves in, constantly asking each-other: “What next? What will get us the biggest reaction?” – these were always my favourite parts of the process. It wasn’t until I was deciding what I wanted to do after school that I settled on the idea of pursuing what I love most; to tell stories like the one’s that shaped my passions on the big screen.
The move from studying Media to entering the real world industry can be a pretty daunting transition – did you have any second thoughts of quitting and moving away?
I never really wanted to study in the first place. I just wanted to take off and get on with it all as soon as possible. Because of this all-or-nothing mentality (and I’m not recommending others do the same), I abandoned a majority of my classes at university to make the time to create my own short films, submit to festivals and gain relevant work experiences wherever I could find them. I was always conscious of the fact that not everyone makes it in Film, and also figured that ‘what you’ve done’ will always be valued more than ‘what you’ve learned’. This being said, I made it my mission to craft the perfect resume to make my transition as realistic for me as possible, and I feel I did just that.
You have found yourself on the set of some big blockbusters, though not in your own expertise… not even close – what was it like to get involved in new fields within the industry?
Coming out of university, all I knew was that I wanted to work in ‘Film’. What I didn’t realise was just how many roles there are on a set! Blindly applying to every film going, cold call after cold call, I’ve been lucky that all my roles so far have been Production based, so no matter the role, the skills I’ve picked up from each job have been easily transferable to the next. I’m just grateful I landed a role in Visual Effects sooner than later – a department that aligns best with my interests and is easily the most exciting of the bunch!
However, you have found a somewhat unique way to fulfil your main love as a screenwriter – how did you come up with the idea of using Instagram?
I’ve always been fascinated by social media, going back to creating YouTube videos with friends and having people interact with them online. However, it wasn’t until I was creating content for a friend of mine who models that I discovered the power of Instagram in particular. When utilising the platform in the right way, your content can be seen by thousands of individuals – all targeted to your niche. The opportunities that could come from sharing my writing there seemed endless, and so I was instantly attracted to the idea of doing so.
Was it easy to come up with this concept or did it take a while for you to figure out?
I’d already been following other writers on the platform who were sharing their writing within posts and their captions. Getting eyes on my posts was the hard part. Thankfully, utilising hashtags was a great way to communicate with other writers and creatives. Once I’d gotten comfortable with writing frequently and reaching out to others, it all became quite natural from there.
How do you go about shooting the perfect visuals to accompany your writing?
The inspiration behind every story on my Instagram lies within the picture I take. The picture determines everything. If a moment in my day stands out as filmic, I’ll snap a photo and question, “if this image was taken from a film, what would the film be about?”. So really, the writing accompanies the visuals as opposed to the other way round.
I see there’s a few little movements throughout the still image – have you thought of maybe shooting a little reenactment or has that crossed your mind but its been very difficult to do?
I’ve actually had people – fellow filmmakers and students – reach out asking if they can adapt my writing into a short film. I’m always open to the idea of it, and more than happy to see how people interpret my work, definitely. The only reason my photos move is so I can have them as videos. This allows me to calculate how many times the stories have been viewed and read instead of just how many likes they get.
How has this concept helped you develop your screenwriting skills as a whole?
Writing within the captions of Instagram posts limits you on character-count, so immediately it forces you to write as concisely as possible. This is a perfect way to practice ‘getting to the point’ in short stories, where the general rule is: the shorter, the better.
What would you say is the most challenging thing about the project?
Initially, I started writing with the objective of sharing a new story every day for 365 days. However, after the first 60 I found I had started to burn out. Finding ideas wasn’t difficult, but writing had become a chore and I lacked inspiration. The most challenging part then was finding that will-power to get back on the saddle and finish what I had started – now happy to round it off at over 100!
What else is happening next in Max Marlow’s world?
For the next couple of months I’ll be busy finishing up with the VFX team on an exciting feature project I may or may not be able to discuss just yet… Alongside this, I will also be wrapping up on my debut 3D-animated short film ‘Thatching Eggs’, and I can’t wait for people to finally see it!
Regarding my writing, after completing the first hundred of these short stories on my Instagram, I plan on tackling more long-form projects, including a TV pilot and a first draft of a novel. Creatively, it’s an exciting time for sure.
(Keep up to date with Max’s projects on his Instagram: @maxmarlow)
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