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An Interview with Justin John Carroll, Director of the Short Film 'The Cow'

Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

I've always written poetry and sustained a keen interest in art and creative writing, but I was obsessed with Hollywood and Cinema from the age of 15. After years of personal struggles, finally I studied film foundation with the London Film Academy in 2006 and then Acting for Film with MetFilmSchool in Ealing. I progressed onto Method Acting at The Rag Factory in Liverpool Street in 2008, and shortly after that, I wrote my first feature length Screenplay.

What was your first job in the art field?

My first jobs were in local theatre productions and a student short film. This led to me setting up my own production company, Art Of Film Ltd., in 2014.

Director Justin John Carroll

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

I'm a qualified psychotherapist, so it's important for me to use the medium of film (partly) to address social ills and mental health issues. However, I strongly believe in 'shooting to thrill' as well, by writing an exciting story with relatable characters, so I do my best to blend the two.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

My vision overall is to make films that touch people on a human level and move or inspire them in a new way.

New projects often come from a mental image or an idea, and then I go with that without trying to direct the flow too much. I prefer to let the characters tell the story by following my intuition.

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

Big films for me were Dead Poets' Society, Good Will Hunting, Gladiator, Double Indemnity, 12 Angry Men, Asphalt Jungle, The Master, E. T., 2001:A Space Odyssey, It's A Wonderful Life, The New World, Rocky, Enter The Dragon, East Of Eden, Naked Youth.

I love Paul Thomas Anderson films, the precision of Stanley Kubrick's work, Steven Spielberg for his scene compositions, Terence Mallick's freedom of movement and artistry, and have also been impacted by the work of Lynne Ramsay, Christopher Nolan, George Stevens, Peter Wier, Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Damien Chazelle, Todd Philips, and of course, Quentin Tarantino.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

I think the lockdowns inadvertently helped to create a new landscape by forcing people to become even more inventive and resourceful, although it seems that advances in technology in particular are what is revolutionising the industry.

It costs less and is much easier to get started with your own equipment and ideas. Technology is dismantling the old hierarchies to some extent and levelling the playing field for those who might not have had a look in before.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

Follow your heart, your passion, your inspiration. Be yourself - you're needed.

Avoid imitation and fitting in with whatever is currently en vogue. There are countless forgettable formula films out there already. Be bold. Be unique.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Without any doubt. Think of Philadelphia, Enter The Dragon, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Ghandi, The Killing Fields, etc.

Films can raise awareness, highlight specific issues, offer new perspectives and perceptions, encourage understanding and greater tolerance, and as I experienced personally, help people through really difficult moments by providing hope, inspiration, and even reassurance.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

It's hard to say. I think the pandemic has ushered in a new era perhaps of people wanting to feel human connection more, and it seems that the writing and storylines are reflecting this in TV series at least.

Films have been totally dominated by the comic book franchises in recent years but there have been some very human stories coming out as well, and everything gets tired if it suffers from overkill, so I'd say we're going to see more of a shift in tastes in the near future.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have two new short films in the pipeline which I'm hoping to shoot this coming winter.

I have written half a dozen or so feature length Screenplays since Covid began as well, so it would be great if I could get one of those made in the next few years.


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