A Film Doesn’t Write Itself and I Had About a Thousand Instances of Writer’s Block by UK Filmmaker Sam Lloyd of BABY SHOES
FILMMAKER — ‘Baby Shoes’
Film Courage: Where did you grow up? What was life like at home?
Sam Lloyd: I grew up in a large town called Hastings in England. I hate Hastings, still do and always will. It’s a filthy town where nothing ever happens. Actually, some of the hatred I have of this town has gone into my new film, but I digress. My up-bringing was unconventional too due to the fact I was bullied relentlessly at school due to my weight and being ginger (why do people hate gingers?!). So for the majority of my childhood I was taught at home by my Mum and by my Nan, Rita. She sadly passed away last year and I miss her greatly. She was a big influence and inspiration to me because she was an incredibly brave woman and always taught me to aim high in my life.
Sam Lloyd as a child
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Sam: I don’t physically look anything like either of my parents but I’ve inherited my lack of patience from my Mum. I don’t know if I’m really anything like my Dad but I know we both sound the same on the phone. My Mum thinks I look like a Weeble, which I find highly offensive actually. At one point last year I thought I was going bald like my Dad but luckily it was just a false alarm.
Film Courage: Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Sam: Yes. They always encouraged me to pursue my ideas. They’ve never wanted me to be anything other than what I am. I’m very grateful for that. They knew I wanted to make films or be an artist from a very early age. So when I turned 16 my Mum did push me towards a media course at college which turned out to be terrible. But I did learn a lot from it. Mainly that no one cares about art anymore.
“Well, our lives seemed to run parallel in a way. Though I sill had a home, we’d both had a crap time of late. I’d recently lost my job and was struggling to make ends meet. So I did feel lucky to be alive. I felt like you do after surviving a serious illness. You’re so happy to be alive but a few days later you just feel like normal.” Sam Lloyd regarding the man who inspired his film
Film Courage: First memory of going to the movies?
Sam: I don’t remember my first time going to the cinema. The first film I remember watching is Robocop, which I was far too young to watch. I loved that film and still do. I remember having to re-track the VHS player every time because the tape was so worn down. I think I’ve been mentally scarred from watching that film so many times. I also remember Toy Story. In fact, that might have been the first film I saw at the cinema. I remember Randy Newman’s music especially… “You’ve got a friend in me. You got troubles? I got ‘em too. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you…” God, I love that song.
Film Courage: What were your plans after high school?
Sam: My plans after college were to go to university, which I did. BIG MISTAKE. I would advise anyone to not go to university. It’ll suck all of the creativity and imagination out of your brain. The thing is, all I wanted to do was make films. I wasn’t interested in theory and studying. The lecturers are just the most single-minded, dull, and frankly evil people I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. However, I shouldn’t speak for everyone. Some people like it. It wasn’t for me. I left after six months after becoming seriously ill and got a job as a cook in a care home.
Film Courage: What is a quote or piece of advice a college professor said which never left you?
Sam: “You’re lazy. So lazy. I’m so disappointed.” This was from my course leader at university. I didn’t pay £9000 a year for comments like that. I’m paying your salary, love!
Film Courage: Growing up was there one movie going experience that changed everything for you?
Sam: Funnily enough, I don’t watch that many films and never have. I love making them but not watching them so much. I have to be in the right mood. However, I’ve always loved Uncle Buck and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Though I’m a bit young to have seen them in the cinema. I think John Hughes was a genius filmmaker. His films have such heart and make you feel something. They’re warm.
Film Courage: Do you have a mentor?
Sam: Yes. Though he wasn’t a mentor. But he was the only person at college who ever encouraged me to make films. His name was Simon. He was a great tutor and taught me a lot. I think I had talent to begin with but he really brought it out of me and he introduced me to a group of other talented filmmakers photographers where my skills really blossomed.
Film Courage: Tell us details about the day you met the man who inspired Baby Shoes?
Sam: I was on a photography assignment taking pictures of the horizon from the clifftops near my home. I felt someone walking behind me and turned around to see a homeless man standing there. I thought he was going to push me off but instead he asked my about my camera. Anyway, we started talking and he told me his life story. He’d been made redundant, he was kicked out of his home and disowned by his family all the way up in Scotland. So he traveled 600 miles to his hometown of Hastings by any means necessary. He stole rides, he hitchhiked and even stowed away in the back of a lorry just to get home, where he belonged. I told him that his story would make a great film and he said if I ever got the change to make a film about him then I could. So I went home and started writing Baby Shoes.
Film Courage: Once you heard this man’s story, how did you begin to view your own life after knowing what he went through?
Sam: Well, out lives seemed to run parallel in a way. Though I sill had a home, we’d both had a crap time of late. I’d recently lost my job and was struggling to make ends meet. So I did feel lucky to be alive. I felt like you do after surviving a serious illness. You’re so happy to be alive but a few days later you just feel like normal. (Read the interview here)