Scout Stuart is a filmmaker from Manchester, who now lives and works in London. As a screenwriter, she has received funding from Creative England and British Film Institute (BFI) for a number of award-winning short films that have played at festivals including Edinburgh International Film Festival and Palm Springs. Her debut feature screenplay ‘Mud’ was selected for initial development for iFeatures 3. In 2015, Scout was an inaugural filmmaker of the BFI Flare Mentorship, where she was paired with director Hong Khaou. She made her short film directing debut with ‘Leg, Arm, Head’ in 2016. For her moving image work, she has been awarded funding from Arts Council England and Video Jam.
Who or what is your biggest influence?
My Nana Carole helped me fall in love with cinema. We’d go to the local picture house every week throughout my life until her death a couple of years ago. We mostly went for escapism and to eat ice cream, but it changed when I was about eighteen and saw ‘Elephant’ by Gus Van Sant. The film unfolded in real time – beautiful, sad, strange. At University, I started watching films by the people who influenced Van Sant – most notably Chantal Akerman. In her, I saw someone who could put women at the forefront of cinema in a way that hadn’t been done before. I always come back to her films. And then – it’s presumptuous to say that I am influenced by Michelangelo Antonioni, but I can say – I love to watch Antonioni. I think it’s important to soak up influences from other art forms too, more often than not, I take inspiration from photography and music above anything else. I usually write scripts to music.
What piece of work that you have done are you most satisfied with and why?
A short film I wrote and directed in 2016 called “Leg, Arm, Head”. It was made at a point where my creative self esteem was low, and I managed to get my confidence back and achieve what I intended with very little compromise. It was also, in some ways, my directing debut. I’d directed films in my late teens/early 20s with no budget, friends as actors and a two person crew, but this was the first time (as a director) I’d had a little bit of money, people who wanted to be actors acting and more crew than could be counted on one hand.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
The best time to start is now. Also develop – and then hold dear – good collaborative working relationships.
What’s the biggest challenge facing artists at the moment?
Having a government that cuts funding and has a lack of interest in the arts isn’t ideal. Saying that, these dreadful political climates can often bring about fantastic work because making stuff feels urgent. In terms of being a filmmaker, it can be difficult to get films made as a woman, as a queer woman, especially. I mean, exhibitors, distributors and financiers are now accepting that there is an audience out there who want to see female- driven films, and who want to see films with an all black cast, so I hope this will help
continue and drive change, but it’s still a sad affair when women still only make up about 10% of directors.
What excites you about film?
Tracking shots. Silence. Dialogue that I wish I could say/write. The close up. Spending time with strangers in this really intimate way; I watch films for the moments that offer the most personal glimpses into the human condition.
If you hadn’t been a filmmaker, what would you have been?
Something with my hands, perhaps a carpenter, like my Dad.
You can view the trailer for “Leg, Arm, Head” on Scout’s website here.