Director Francis Lee talks about the technical aspects of making his first feature, from sound design to camera movement to the editing process. This is is an excerpt from our ebook God’s Own Country: A Special Issue, which is available for purchase here.
Yesterday, God’s Own Country dominated the British Independent Film Awards with 12 nominations: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Francis Lee, Best Actor for both Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu, Best Sound, and more. It is one of the best films of the last year and certainly one of the most impressive directorial debuts. Here is part two of Seventh Row’s exclusive interview with Francis Lee where he talks about the technical aspects of making his first feature, from sound design to camera movement to the editing process.
Seventh Row (7R): The setting is such a crucial part of the film. Had you already found the location when you wrote the script?
Francis Lee: I wrote the script imagining it on my dad’s farm because I was trying to be pragmatic. I had no producers, no money, nothing. I thought, “Well, I could just shoot it there. It’ll be cheap.” But after shooting two shorts on dad’s farm, I thought I can’t put him through that again. It’s just too much.
Then, it became about trying to find the farm that had all those elements in it. We did find that farm which was incredible and perfect and no longer exists. It’s gone. He sold it. They’re converting the barn into a house, and the farmhouse is going to be all done up. They sold it last summer. Even the pub has been gentrified. That’s not the same. It’s been just over a year since we shot it. Those places don’t exist anymore.
7R: In the beginning of the film, there are all these abrupt changes between a quiet scene, and a quick, hard cut to the next scene which has really loud sound.
Francis Lee: That was very intentional. The sound was so important to me, and so carefully crafted. I wanted, in a sense, to keep being brought back to the reality of the world, the situation, the noise. Rather than having it be very quiet, seductive, I didn’t want people to get cozy at any point. The noises I think that you’re referring to are mechanical, right?
7R: Yes, like the sound of the heifer on the ramp getting onto the trailer and the gate.
Francis Lee: Yes. I wanted to undercut that natural world and the natural sounds with man-made sounds, or mechanical sounds. There’s also one of the quad bike. I ranked those up in volume, with another hard cut and a hard sound. It was always to undercut the rural, pastoral, “Oh this could be nice” world.
To read the rest of the interview with director Francis Lee, purchase a copy of the ebook God’s Own Country: A Special Issue here.