Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Debut director Craig Roberts offers his tips to budding filmmakers

roberts2.jpg

You’ll recognise Craig Roberts’ face. And, chances are, you’ll be seeing more of it. Five years on from making his major screen debut in Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, Roberts’ latest film is due to hit cinemas. But the 24-year-old isn’t just the star of coming-of-age tale Just Jim – he’s its director and writer. Here, he tells us what he learned as a first-time filmmaker.

What’s it like going behind the camera and yelling “action” for the first time?
Stressful. But it’s a good stress. It was strange talking to cameramen about shots when you’re used to having someone else talk. But I became more worried about my heart.

What did you have to learn?
That you have to appear unbreakable. If the costume department asks, “What do you think of this dress, red or blue?” you have to know what you want. I’m not a decisive guy, but if you’re a director you have to act confident.

Did you pick any tips off Richard Ayoade from Submarine? He doesn’t seem the shouting type.
Yeah, I had a similar approach to him, being very quiet. But a lot of being a director is about keeping morale up.

Any team-bonding sessions?
I was like David Brent. Haha.

Emile Hirsch is your co-star in Just Jim. What’s it like bossing around an experienced actor?
I thought nobody would listen to me. Then they did. Everyone’s there to create something you think is good – it’s strange.

Were these things taught to you at film school?
I never went to film school. I just watched movies. You can learn so much from watching Kubrick or Hitchcock films. That’s my advice for starting out – watch a bunch of films. I still play with a Super 8 camera at home, shooting stuff to get used to the look and sound.

Were there horror stories on set with equipment not working?
I stayed away from all of that. We didn’t have much money and it was just a 16-day shoot – if I’d messed anything up it would’ve been all over.

Which films directly influenced Just Jim?
I like David Lynch, but you can’t just copy him, otherwise you end up with [Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut flop] Lost River. My movie’s definitely not a Lynch rip. Otherwise it’d be f*cking awesome [laughs].

Just Jim’s credits read: written by Craig Roberts, directed by Craig Roberts, starring Craig Roberts...
...soundtrack by Craig Roberts. Not really.

Roberts

That’s a lot to take on for your first film. Is that something you’d recommend?
It depends how well you know the areas. I’ve been acting for 14 years. Directing yourself is such a schizophrenic process, though. I’d say my line, watch it back and go, “That’s OK, you’re OK.” By no means do I think I’m Woody Allen.

The film’s shot in your south Wales hometown. Is it good to stick to what you know?
Definitely write what you know. It makes it easier. Just Jim’s story is roughly based on my childhood. I knew what I wanted, even with costumes. I filmed at my old school, and at my nan’s house.

Did she get a credit?
She didn’t get a credit.

What’s your advice for a first-time director?
The film you’re making is a statement on how you see the world, so don’t let too many people get involved in writing, through to filming and editing. The more people come in, the more you change it, the less it’s yours. And be confident; if you question yourself from the outset, that’s not good. But don’t walk around like you’re Kanye West with a camera, thinking you’re God. I’d love to see a film directed by Kanye, though.

How much of directing is just looking like you know what you’re doing?
A lot of it. It’s funny that coming-of-age stories are associated with kids, because humans are always coming of age, always developing.

Based on that, can anyone go into filmmaking?
If you love film, yeah.

And film school’s not essential?
It’s wise to go to film school, but you don’t have to. You could just watch Kubrick and Scorsese films.

Just Jim is at selected cinemas from 25 September

(Photography: Matt Holyoak)

Related

film4.jpg

Elliot Grove's Film Making Tips

film2.jpg

We Want You To Make A Film

victortrailer1.jpg

First Trailer for Victor Frankenstein

empirestrikesback.jpg

Incredible Rare Footage of the Creation of The Empire Strikes Back Sou

StarWarsVIIposter.jpg

The Star Wars Weekend Round-up

hatefuleight.jpg

First trailer for Tarantino's The Hateful Eight

More

This new Netflix documentary is quickly becoming a must-watch

It's like nothing you've ever seen before

by Tom Victor
18 Aug 2017

Seth Rogen spills 'Superbad' secrets to celebrate its 10th birthday

Wait... you changed your name to... McLovin?

by Emily Reynolds
18 Aug 2017

The best ever uses of songs in movies - as chosen by Reddit

What's your pick?

by Gary Ogden
17 Aug 2017

Samuel L Jackson: "If Donald Trump broke into my house, I'd shoot him"

We chat to the movie legend about hentai, yachting and killing the President

by Andrew Dickens
16 Aug 2017

Six possible posters for the upcoming Nigel Farage movie

How and why is this actually happening?

by Gary Ogden
16 Aug 2017

The 25 scariest movies on Netflix right now

Stream if you dare

15 Aug 2017

Ryan Reynolds reveals the best prank he's ever pulled

It's classic dad joke stuff

by Tom Victor
14 Aug 2017

Why 'Undisputed' is the best action movie franchise you've never seen

As an action fan, you owe it yourself to watch these movies

by Gary Ogden
11 Aug 2017

Watch the terrifying trailer for Jennifer Lawrence's 'Mother!'

It's the creepy new film from the director of Black Swan

by Gary Ogden
08 Aug 2017

An animated Transformers movie is coming to cinemas

Will it be a return to form?

by Gary Ogden
07 Aug 2017