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An Interview with Cath Shayler

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

At the beginning of 2021 we were gifted a space at SET Woolwich. We have used it as a Residency space for our members, hosting Three month long residencies. Cath was a recipient of the residency from May to August.

Can you tell me a bit about your work?

I am a filmmaker / cinema employee from East Yorkshire currently living in SE London. Inspired by articles found in old magazines, over-saturated 1970s aesthetics, and a love for the uncanny and surreal, my deadpan comedy films take place in a world of wit and fake phenomena, imaginary facts, and tongue-in-cheek realities. All doused in a kitsch but classy glow.

Why did you apply for the WCCD Residency?

My friend, Shauna (aka Shoshy ) approached me with an idea for a sci fi 60s music video set in an outer space / UFO / masked ball type setting. Being super naive (and ambitious) I was like yeah sure, we can do that. I planned out and storyboarded the concept thinking I’ll figure out how to make this possible when it comes to it.

I had experimented a bit with stop motion and miniatures during lockdown, making props and shooting them from my bedroom. But there was a limit to how much I could do there. Waking up to a bedroom floor filled with different props, rolls of paper, string taped to the ceiling and a wall of curtain backdrops starts to zap your brain after a while.

I knew that realistically if the music video was going to materialise, I was going to need a studio space to work from. But being working class and living in London this seemed so unaffordable and unlikely to happen. So when I saw the residency advertised I jumped at the opportunity !!

Tell us about what you got up to during the residency!

The music video concept was very prop / set design heavy, so I basically just spent 3 months making looooads of alien stuff. I was aiming for a super detailed Thunderbirds style with the models, so I did a lot of background watching Thunderbirds. I got really carried away with some of them - the spaceship exterior model ended up taking me a full month to make and I think it's only in the final music video edit for like ?? 4 Seconds ?

I ended up using the space in a completely different way to how I had planned in the beginning. What initially was supposed to be a single control panel model extended into a full on control room set piece that took over half of the space. I kept finding ledges that new bits could balance on and tiles that could be removed from the office ceiling to hang stuff from. It was really fun! I had never made a full set piece like that before and it was completely different to what I had planned for the video - but I think it resulted in some of the nicest shots.

We shot the video overnight at SET, right before my residency ended with a cast and crew of our friends from the cinema. I'm still editing the video at the moment but we are aiming for a March release with the single - Can't wait to share it !!

What will you be doing now the residency has ended?

The months following the residency have been quite hectic as I recently got an actual film job at a production company!! The role covers a range of different aspects of the production process from editing and assisting on shoots, to storyboarding and directing. So it's pretty much perfect for me, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn on the job. I’m there part time too, so I still have the cinema and enough free time to focus on my own film projects. Now that I’m more settled with the job I am looking forward to finishing off the music video and beginning to plan some future short films!

I would like to send a massive thank you hug to WCCD for this opportunity. The music video is the most ambitious thing I’ve ever made and I had loads of fun making it. And without the residency it never would have happened. Having a project like this in my portfolio really helped me get the production company job so I owe them that too! It was also nice to become a part of the SET community. I met some lovely people during the residency and there’s always people on the lookout to split their spaces, so it's nice to know that I have options if I ever need a space again in the future!

Check out more of Caths work here:

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