Daniel Greenway’s Deep Fried Fingers delves into an imaginative world, where the roles of animals and humans are reversed. The concept isn’t novel but the attempt in itself is laudable. The 5-minute animated short, currently streaming on Amazon Prime UK, won Best Animated Film at the CIFT Festival of Toronto and Vancouver Independent Film Festival. It’s quick-witted, penetrating and brutal without being exploitative. The 24-year-old filmmaker, also a final year cinema student, talks to Flickside about the idea behind the film, procuring funds, entering the Prime club and more!
This was a great story with a message. You’re very young, which makes this even more remarkable. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got here. Did you go to a film school? Did you teach yourself?
From a young age, I have always loved to create, whether that was creating home videos, YouTube videos or short films – the best part was always sharing my creations with other people. I was born in Warwick, England but moved to Rochester, New York when I was 8 and spent most of my life in the USA. At 20, I traveled back to the UK with the intention of pursuing filmmaking.
I studied Digital Film & TV Production at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David but most of what I’ve learned about film has been self-taught. I have worked very hard to refine my skills as a writer by reading many scriptwriting/film-related books (The Scriptwriter’s Bible and Into The Woods are great books about storytelling), watching interviews from filmmakers and watching films religiously.
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What inspired Deep-Fried Fingers?
Usually ideas come to me in images and Deep-Fried Fingers was no different. The image that came to me initially was the thought of a human being hung just like pigs are in industrial sized meat freezer and out of this thought the whole film came. I am very against animal cruelty and it bothers me. The fact that I know it’s happening and while I myself don’t consume animal products, I thought it could help change some minds if people see the roles being reversed in the meat-eating relationship between animals and humans.
Are there specific kinds of stories you want to tell?
There is definitely a specific style of story that I like to tell and it usually doesn’t flatter the human species too much as it points out our flaws. I like to see changes I would like to see in the world and then create a film in such a way that people can then see a different viewpoint of the world after watching. This is what, I think, a good piece of art can do. I don’t think most humans are purposefully bad in any way and sometimes it can take a piece of art to reflect our actions back on ourselves to wake us up.
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How long did it take for from start to the end of production? Did you face any challenges along the way? For example, were you able to arrange for funding or did you have to spend your own money? What kind of a budget were you working with?
The production took about 11 months in total from the script being started to the final film being produced. There were numerous issues in production especially right after finishing the script because my thoughts were “Okay, so now I’ve written an animated short that I really feel passionately about but how the heck do I make an animated short?” But I think that’s all what filmmaking is to a large extent.
It’s problem solving and also learning on the job most of the time. I had absolutely no idea how an animated film was created so I had to try and find an animator but most of the quotes I was receiving at the time for the budget needed for the film made me feel sick as a 3rd year University student.
After I had found an animator that I liked, it was time to discuss the budget. Luckily, we agreed on a number that was manageable. I needed to pay in instalments because I couldn’t afford the full budget of the film in one chunk.
I made Deep Fried Fingers on a budget of $3500. It consisted of my own money and some crowdfunding. But I truly believe that taking risks is crucial in being a filmmaker and believing in your projects is everything. I also produced the film mostly myself so dealing with a budget and the overall creation of a project like this was overwhelming at first but I became quite comfortable with it as it went along.
Can you share actionable advice on how an aspiring filmmaker can get their film/short on Prime too?
I think the main thing one can do as a filmmaker to get their work on Prime is to have an eye for quality. When I say an eye for quality, what I mean is to have an eye of maybe someone else, a third party, that could be viewing your film and what would you think if you were them?
Making films is such a huge mountain to climb and you will need great visuals, great acting, great sound, great music and a great story in order to go anywhere in the industry and it’s also an industry in which you need talented people to help you to create your vision.
I think one of my greatest abilities is to see talent in others and to know when I can trust their work enough to collaborate with them. As a director, your job is to have the vision for your project and then you must hire other people with talent to help you to create the vision.
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Congratulations on the awards. Did you just submit your film to these festivals? Is there anything a filmmaker should know if they’re chasing festivals?
Thank you very much! Yes, I submitted my film into the festivals usually using a film festival platform called ‘Film Freeway’. In my first year of University, I attended a few film festival award nights. I remember seeing people walk up on stage in their suits and being given an award. And I’d think how cool it would be if I could be one of those people. Now, a few years later, it’s happened to me.
It’s a very cool feeling when people appreciate your work. But I think the glimmer has faded slightly for me with awards, etc. I think people should make films because they genuinely love the artform. And trust me, when you win an award, it’s a nice feeling at first but that feeling drifts. You want to always have the love of making films to be there for you when that temporary high of winning an award vanishes. I am very honoured by these award wins, though. It just makes me happy that people have viewed my film all around the world. I think that’s the most exciting thing for me.
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What are you working on right now? What kind of work do you see yourself doing over the next 2 years?
I’m currently still in University as a Postgrad student getting my teaching degree because an option for me as an indie filmmaker could be to teach film in Universities alongside making my films.
I am also currently working on a series of animated short films with topics that include big pharma, consumerism, A.I., Quantum Physics and other crazy topics. And I’m hoping for a 6-episode series that could hopefully land on Netflix or another big distributor. I love to create things so I can’t see that ever not being the case for me. But I hope to keep improving my craft and keep raising my game!
Deep Fried Fingers is streaming on Amazon Prime UK. You can also watch it on YouTube.