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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Mike Wozniak for SUMP (2017)

Interview with Mike Wozniak for SUMP (2017) Mike Wozniak 

Interview with Mike Wozniak for SUMP (2017)Jeany Spark and Gemma Whelan in SUMP. 

Actor Mike Wozniak, known for his work in TV series MAN DOWN (2013-2017) and THE MOONSTONE (2016), made his directorial debut with the short film SUMP (2017), a dark and ironic tale set in England after a tragic diving accident. The film screened at the 2018 Palm Springs International Shortfest. 

I interviewed Mike about his experience making the film. Here is what he had to say:


Were the events in SUMP based on a true story?

MIKE: Not in any way, shape or form I’m happy to say.


How did you go about casting the film?

MIKE: Emotional blackmail. I’m lucky enough to have some friends who are extremely talented and successful actors. They did me a big heap solid knowing full well they would be giving up their own time for zero reward. Quite a lot of short films rely on this method of “casting”.


Is your film a comment on modern UK culture or more of a satire?

MIKE: I have to admit I don’t believe I was thinking on a big enough scale when I was writing to make it either. The origins are more personal and internal really. I was thinking about the dark and mischievous thoughts that lurk in the back of everyone’s brains and what happens when these cease to be under control.


Do you think you will turn the film into a feature?

MIKE: No. Of course I’d love to make a feature one day but this story felt like one that belonged in short form.


As an actor, do you find it easy to direct? And will you direct again?

MIKE: I didn’t find it easy by any means but I absolutely loved it. I cheated a little by putting together a very good team of people I knew I would be able to lean on - especially as it was my first attempt.


How did your career in acting begin and is it a hard profession in UK?

MIKE: I started out doing stand-up and live sketch comedy and began getting comedy acting work that way. I haven’t been to drama school or anything so still feel like a bit of a fraud every time I get an acting job. Acting in the UK is like many other places I think - most actors are skint most of the time and need to have a couple of other ways of paying the rent. You need a healthy balance of optimism and realism if you’re not going to lose your marbles long-term.


Who have been your biggest inspirations in your career?

MIKE: I could spend all week thinking about this so I’ll cut a very long list down to a few highlights if that’s okay. For comedy, specifically my number one hero of all time is Spike Milligan. On a more personal level Gareth Tunley and Alice Lowe – who both recently made their first features - have given me some of that crucial “just get on with it and make something” inspiration. There’s also my friend Matt Lipsey who I have been directed by many times and who has been a great source of inspiration, advice and encouragement.


You traveled to Palm Springs this year for the Shortfest. What was that like?

MIKE: Incredible! Such a warm welcome. Such a wonderful experience. I had never been to a film festival as a filmmaker before and didn’t want it to end. The staff were extremely supportive and didn’t bat an eyelid at my idiotic questions. I also met a lot of fellow travellers in the short film world who I hope to cross paths with again soon.


What will you be working on next?

MIKE: I’ve got a few balls in the air writing wise that are keeping me out of trouble but what I’m most excited about is trying to get behind the camera again. There is one idea in particular for a new short that I’m trying to put onto paper at the moment. If I don’t tear the script into tiny pieces and burn it then perhaps it will exist in a watchable form one day.


Interview by Vanessa McMahon


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