My Inspiration: Joshua M Kerr – Fly Home | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based filmmaker Joshua M Kerr finds himself in the spotlight as one of the winners in this year’s Straight 8 film competition. Joshua’s film Fly Home was one of eight films selected for the top position out of a total of 212 entries from 26 countries and 5 continents. Judged by a panel of discerning industry luminaries, Fly Home would have had a much-deserved airing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival had it not been for the postponement of the festival due to the Covid-19 crisis. Instead, Fly Home will be screened online on Wednesday 24th June at 8.00pm 

Joshua explains the premise of the competition and the inspiration behind the film…

You have to make a short film using only one cartridge of 8mm cine film—that’s around 3 minutes—with no editing, no retakes and no post-production. Everything must be shot in story order. The craziest bit is that you don’t get to see the results until the final screening! So along with the audience, I’ll be watching my film for the first time on Wednesday night. I presume it’s OK because it was selected.

I find the idea of working with 8mm inspiring in and of itself, it brings to the surface childhood memories of my family gathered round projecting a reel of film that you’d waited two weeks (or more) to get back. Sometimes you would be pleasantly surprised with the results and others maybe less so, but it was always a magical, shared experience. I entered Straight 8 initially because I wanted to recapture that feeling.

I’d had an idea about an astronaut working alone in space, lightyears from his family. This was before the coronavirus crisis hit, before “lockdown” became a way of life, but I think the story has an added relevance because of the current situation.

It’s surprising what can be achieved using only a single reel of 8mm film. For me, Fly Home is a heart-warming tale, inspired by the sci-fi films I watched as a kid, such as Back to the Future, ET and Star Wars. It’s the commitment to character that resonates with me. A slightly whacky premise helps too (as does a control panel with flashing lights, switches and dials). I wanted the film to have a sort of epic feel, and found myself drafting the synopsis and storyboard while listening to the original Star Wars soundtrack by John Williams. 

Beyond my filmmaking influences I am most often inspired by the individuals I work with. I love hearing ideas and for people to feel free to express them. Producer Paul Dubois supported the project from the outset, and everyone else involved—from actor (George Sharpe), camera operators (Liam Walker and Andrew Roughan), sound designer (John Mellor), modelmaker (Andrew Glazebrook) and composer (John Kefala Kerr)—is passionate about collaboration and filmmaking.

When the film was just a bag of ideas and I first met modelmaker Andrew Glazebrook he had a very immediate impact on the project. He showed me a miniature space station he’d built and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Andrew was happy for it to be used so I altered the concept of the film to be able to incorporate Andrew’s amazing construction.

Music is a big inspiration for me too. My dad is the composer John Kefala Kerr, and he composed the music for the film. We work very well together. He probably knows me better than I know myself…we have a good “back and forth” about ideas.

A full documentary about the making of Fly Home can be found on Joshua’s youtube channel: 

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