We first saw Adam Butcher’s haunting short The Prevailing Winds at the Film London screenings and were blown away by the epic nature of it. A subtle yet daunting narrative that unfurls slowly and delivers some subtle punches. We caught up with Adam as the film premieres online today, which you can see here:
Tell us about how your film came about…
I randomly found this short film fund run by IdeasTap – they had 10 scripts each with their own writers and producers. I didn’t know any of them beforehand but they were all looking for directors. I read the scripts, loved “The Prevailing Winds”, wrote a treatment, had an interview with Writer Lawrie and Producer Caroline, and then “got the job”. Now we had a team and some money to get started!
The majority of your narrative takes place in wide open spaces, were there particular challenges you faced whilst filming in a location like this?
Oof, it was harder than I thought. Recces were difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Organising things like location permissions, unit moves, even camera placement was hard. And finally, relying on any kind of weather, particularly the direction of the bloody wind, is a very stupid thing to do. Crucial help was: a great and very outdoorsy Location Manager, and a keen runner/fixer with a Land Rover. Indispensable.
The Prevailing Winds takes us to a place narratively where we’re taken down a path lined with small pebbles of horror, sci-fi and mystery – were there any influences that took you there?
I guess I was a bit “genre” with my influences but it was a big mix. I re-watched and incorporated Andrea Arnold’s “Wuthering Heights”, “No Country For Old Men”, “Under The Skin”, “Antichrist”, “Stalker” and even a bit of “2001: A Space Odyssey”. DoP Mike brought in some other visual influences from “The Revenant” and “Gone Girl”. I think you can see a little of each in all this!
How did you find the festival circuit, and did you find genre festivals were more receptive than traditional festivals?
Despite making the biggest festival spreadsheet I’ve ever seen, the festival circuit was still really difficult for us. I think genre festivals definitely were more keen, but overall I think we either had bad luck or “fell between two stalls”. Not experimental enough, but not quite conventional enough either. Not quite fully sci-fi/horror/genre but not quite straight drama either. I like the film for that but I think that didn’t work for a lot of places. But every audience that saw the film really liked it, so I’m sure it’ll do well online!
If you could change one thing on this production (whether that be narratively or shoot-wise) what would it be?
Honestly – I would try not to get so stressed. There was something about this project that made me more anxious than other projects, and I think it actually hampered my ability to just make the film and enjoy myself! Coming out the other side, I’ve got a much better handle on how it’s meant to go and how to be a bit more chill about things.
What are you working on next?
I’m moving on from Shorts to the treacherous land of Feature Film and TV. I’ve written a thriller for Western Edge Pictures (“Prevenge”, “Third Star”) and am currently developing a sci-fi TV Series for a company in LA. But I’m also developing a bunch of my own projects that I want to make as my directorial debut – so if there are any producers out there, hit me up!
What was the last thing you saw in the cinema, and was it any good?
Ha ha, I weirdly went to a 4DX screening of the new Jurassic World. The seats move and rumble around and air gets blown in your face and stuff. Pretty impressive for the first 15min but then I started to get seasick. Oh and the movie was fine I guess…
Some final words of advice for any other filmmakers out there?
I’m becoming increasingly aware that all my best opportunities have come out of me just doing my own thing and then someone else spotting it and asking “what’s next?”. Don’t chase what you think people want, just make stuff that makes you happy.