If You Have A Minute: Fiona Ashe

Fiona Ashe, Rapunzel - The Blonde Years

This week in the Grafton Media industry spotlight series we speak to Fiona Ashe, Film Director & Screenwriter

Fiona Ashe is an award-winning Film Director and Screenwriter. She has directed six short films and has a slate of feature film projects in development. She is also passionate about the convergence of film and social media and is very active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Her work has been endorsed by such renowned filmmakers and producers as Jim Sheridan and Bruce Block.

fiona ashe headshotWhat first made you want to get into filmmaking?

I’ve always wanted to be a film director! I’m very visual and I adore storytelling so it was natural fit for me. My favourite part of film directing is rehearsing with actors. The process of transforming the characters from the page into living, breathing people is amazing! I love directing my own scripts because I have a deep insight into the characters, subtext and visual structure. I also like discovering a script by an exceptionally talented writer and visualising how I would tell that story on the screen.

What is a typical day (in the office?) for you?

The great thing about filmmaking is the variety it brings. There’s no such thing as a typical day. My work varies from scriptwriting to designing the visual structure for a project to casting to rehearsing to filming to editing. I thrive on meeting different challenges every day.

What’s the most interesting or exciting project you’ve ever worked on?

There are two projects that stand out for me. The first is Shades Of Gray, a 9-minute Film Noir which I made in New York City. My films tend to explore big moral issues and usually feature social injustices. Shades Of Gray delved into the issue of police brutality. It was very exciting to shoot in NYC, which is one of my favourite places in the world. I also loved shooting in black-and-white, using the classic Film Noir style.

The other project that is very important to me is my feature screenplay Cracks In The Ice, which is about the blood diamond trade and its links to global terrorism. It centres on a flawed foreign correspondent, who has to make very difficult moral choices while reporting from a war zone in Africa. I’ve received significant interest in the script from producers, both here and internationally, and I really look forward to getting that onto cinema screens.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Raising finance is the most difficult part of filmmaking in my opinion. It falls more within the producer’s remit than the director’s, however everyone on the creative team needs to support efforts to get the project made.

What are the most interesting trends you’re seeing in filmmaking these days, particularly online?

Crowdfunding is a great development for filmmakers because it reduces dependence on traditional funding models and gives film fans the opportunity to contribute to ensuring that the type of movies they like get made. The internet is an amazing resource: it enables filmmakers like myself to distribute our films to a much larger audience worldwide and also to build a loyal audience for our work.

How important do you think video is in the online space?

I create online videos for businesses through the corporate arm of my business – Flasheforward Communications – and, in my opinion, video is the most important marketing currency for businesses. It’s a brilliant way to attract visitors to your website and keep them there. All things being equal, people will do business with – and refer business to – others that they know, like and trust. Video is an unparalleled – and cost-effective – way to build that trust.  It makes viewers feel they know you, while increasing your likeability and credibility.

How do you keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry?

I love watching videos, so that’s how I prefer to keep up-to-date with the film and television industries. After that, my sources of information are e-newsletters, blogs and social media.

What advice would you give to anyone trying for someone starting out in filmmaking today?

Firstly, I would advise emerging filmmakers to learn their craft. Directing is a craft. Screenwriting is a craft. I believe that filmmakers achieve top quality results when they combine natural talent with proficiency in craftsmanship. Secondly, support other filmmakers. Your network is your pot of gold when trying to get a film made. And finally: place a value on your talent and don’t undersell yourself. Whatever your career dream is, pursue it relentlessly.

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We’ve had a great response so far from people looking to be involved in this weekly series but we’re still looking for more. If you are a creative, drop me a mail at nicola dot graftonmedia dot com and we’ll send on the questions and let you know what details we’ll need from you.

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