Simone Smith: Successful self-taught director talks next steps

BAFTA winning director Simone Smith chats to Lifestyle Editor Rachel Cronin about finding her path as a self-taught filmmaker.

On set of The Mobius Strip, Smith’s latest award-winning short film.

‘As early as I can remember, I was always into art and drama’, the filmmaker explains. ‘I just enjoyed creating and playing with a video camera.’ Smith’s debut short film Red won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award in 2013. Since then, the Glasgow director has released several successful shorts, and is now working on her first feature film, It’s Too Late You Can’t Save Me.

‘It’s about a mum in a near sort of future dystopia’, Smith continues. ‘We see things happen through her lens as a young mother in this really dark world, and she’s trying to save herself and save her son. So I’m just writing that just now. And it’s really severe. I see it as quite an experiential film’.

As well as tackling mother archetypes with this first feature, Smith is also addressing themes of sisterhood with another feature film she has in the works, UNTIL SHE BLEEDS. As a mother and sister herself, Smith draws upon experience and uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. ‘I don’t need to consciously understand why I’m saying what I’m saying, or why I express what I’m expressing,’ explains the writer. ‘I just draw from experience and love to express myself creatively.’

Simone Smith comes from a working-class family, started out with no connections to the industry, and didn’t go to film school. She learned production skills through her job as a runner for the BBC and worked her way up from there. ‘I was always obsessed with watching films, and studied art and experimental theatre… then I started experimenting with video and became a VJ’ (working at music venues such as the Arches in Glasgow ). ‘I taught myself how to edit my films because I love to get really intimate with the footage and allow the ideas to teach me what they want to say. It’s all quite mysterious, and I love that mystery. I also love working with actors, because they’re the most vulnerable on set, and the power and heart of everything. I have the utmost respect for anyone willing to put themselves out there and share those hidden, deeper parts of themselves.’

 I’m a researcher at heart,’ she notes. ‘researching and absorbing everything around me, experiencing life, and taking risks. And then, I feel the need to express. Maybe subconsciously, it’s this urge to get stuff out of me. That’s my film school essentially.’

Simone Smith is part of Glasgow Film Festival’s mentorship programme. By the end of the 6-month-long scheme, she hopes to have finished her first draft of the screenplay for It’s Too Late You Can’t Me.