By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood August 23, 2011 at 3:30AM
I sold my home to make my feature film debut Dimensions: A Line, A Loop, A Tangle of Threads. It's a sci-fi love story that takes place in England in the 1920s and 1930s...a period-science fiction – not exactly what you're supposed to make on a very limited budget! Some people have said 'insane', others have called it 'inspired'. All I knew was that I wanted to make a film, and to direct...and we could just talk about it or we could actually go ahead and do it. After all, life is short.
At the time, I had just finished working as an Art Director on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince here in the UK. I had been working for many years at this point in film art departments both in the UK and the US, on projects such as Batman Begins, Mission Impossible 2, Scream 3, Being John Malkovich among others. And I was a child actor in Los Angeles, mostly in commercials, so I had a bit of experience in front of the camera. My husband, Ant Neely, is a music composer who was scoring music for an animated television series at the time. He wrote the script, I would production design it and, between ourselves and our many years in the business, we figured we had the skill set to pull it off.
We would both be producers – mostly by default, as we needed to save the money we would have to pay a producer, we wanted to keep track of the money, and we wanted full creative control anyway. I did the budget and made the initial shooting schedule (later revised, of course, as always).
It all seemed quite natural. I've wanted to direct for a long time, though I never talked about it. It's not the sort of thing that comes up in conversation and I didn't want to be one of those people who talk about something, but never do it. I would talk about when I wanted to, when I was actually going to do it.
So we sold our home in Twickenham and got a few non-film industry, private investors to top up our funds. We'd heard too many stories of friends (and friends of friends) trying to raise a few million or more to make their film only to have an investor suddenly pull out...and they would have to start again, pounding the pavement, looking for more money.
I surrounded myself with both experienced, industry colleagues and friends, from various departments, and talented local Cambridge film people. This was always going to be a huge team effort and we needed those with us who were just as passionate about our project as we are. For production assistants, we approached a local university film/media department and brought on students to gain work experience. One of these former students is now a special effects trainee on a Ridley Scott film at Pinewood; another went on to more production assistant jobs straight after our film as a result of the contacts he made with us; and one has made her first short film and started a student film society.
It was a tough and quick shoot. We shot on the Canon 5D MkII, mostly on location at a family house in the countryside just outside of Cambridge on the River Cam. We shot 500 slates in four weeks last summer, averaging about 3 ½ to 6 ½ script pages a day.
We're very proud of Dimensions: A Line, A Loop, A Tangle of Threads and that good news is that we're having our UK premiere, at this year's Cambridge Film Festival, alongside high profile films like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Midnight in Paris.
Watch the trailer:
Originally a child actor, and now a veteran of many film art departments, Sloane U'Ren recently took the plunge and directed her first feature film in Cambridge, England.