• Charlie Vogelsang

Interview With Blake Ridder, Director Of HELP

Rising tremendously in the past year, director, writer and actor Blake Ridder hasn't stopped at all through the pandemic. He spoke to us at Indie Visible about his career and his debut feature film HELP.

London based filmmaker Blake Ridder is already multi-award winning and has been recognised as an incredible talent to watch. Starting his career as an actor, Ridder soon found himself deciding to create the roles he wanted. After realising he enjoyed writing and filmmaking, Ridder focused his attention on creating innovative short films that subverted many genre tropes.

In 2020 alone, he made over 10 shorts, with each having a different tone and meaning. From a short fan film based on James Bond called No Time To Die, to an intimate story about a man suffering from the coronavirus in the film Coronavirus (Covid): The Movie, Ridder has gone from strength to strength in the past year. His debut feature film, HELP, is a psychological thriller already making a huge impact on the festival circuit.

Ridder speaks to IndieVisible about his filmmaking journey, his latest film and how he overcame the challenges of working during the pandemic.

Tell us about your history as a filmmaker. How did you start your journey?

I get asked this a lot. So I ended up creating two documentary episodes, called 13 Films In 2 Years - A Filmmaker's Journey, of how it all started on my YouTube channel (@BlakeRidder).

I started off as an actor, with no interest in filmmaking at all. Slowly, I realised nobody wants me in their films because I am a nobody with no experience. I then decided to buy a camera and film myself to get practicing. Eventually, I decided to make a short film called Bloodline, which got my creative juices flowing, and I never stopped making films ever since.

Your latest film, HELP, is a tense psychological thriller. What were the inspirations behind the film?

Without giving too much of the plot away. Some parts of the film were based on my personal life experiences - especially human relationships between men and women. I also got inspired by other thrillers such as Get Out and Parasite. People with a keen eye should be able to spot some scenes which have similar style from several recent films.

Amazingly, you shot HELP in just 12 days - and in the midst of the Covid pandemic no less. What challenges did you face during production?

The funny thing is that Covid-related challenges were non-existent. I mean, we had rules in place such as people getting temperature checks daily and not coming on and off set - as we are all living and working in one location for two weeks.

I thought a feature film is just lots of short films added together - easy-peasy. Boy was I wrong

But the typical British weather caused us more problems. Some of the scenes had to be re-written to suit an indoor setting. Time was another issue, as it would be on any set, but luckily we were able to catch up from a few behind-days thanks to Rebeca Leal, our 1st AD.

You have directed several short films (Bad News, The English Teacher and The Tesla Car Thieves just to name a few). What’s the biggest difference between directing these compared to feature length films?

I thought a feature film is just lots of short films added together - easy-peasy. Boy was I wrong! When you’re shooting a feature, planning is everything. You may get away with free styling on a short film set, but if you don’t know what shots you want on a feature, everything goes downhill from there. So it’s all about being well prepared days or weeks before production, and then double prepare it each day on set.

With short films, you can also be more flexible and change things as you see fit on the day. But because feature films, especially on a low budget, require you to be on schedule, there isn’t much time for any massive changes on set.

What's the most important thing you want viewers to take away from your films?

That things in life aren’t always what they appear to be. When you dig deeper into people, you’d be surprised what you will find.

You often write, direct and star in several of your films, including HELP. How do you manage these big roles and which one is your favourite?

I am my own worst enemy, always trying to wear too many hats. I do enjoy directing the most, but I don’t think I can ever let go of the others.

What has been your biggest success in your career so far?

Besides the fan films I’ve made, The English Teacher has to be the most successful at the moment. I am hoping HELP will take its place.

What has been your biggest failure, and how did you learn from it?

I think my screenplay is still poor sometimes, particularly on dialogues. I’ve learned to not tell and show more. Sometimes less is more.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I am writing another feature at the moment, which will have the usual thrills and twists - that’s all I can say for now.

HELP is out later this year. Be sure to check out Ridder’s website to see his other projects and follow him on Twitter (@BlakeRidder) for updates about HELP.