Fighting crime with Miles Watts
Miles Watts explains how York inspired his black and white comic book caper, Crimefighters.
"I was cycling along to Danny Elfman’s Batman soundtrack, and combined with York's gothic architecture, I thought it would be the perfect setting for a really British low-budget Batman spoof." Watts wrote the script in five months in collaboration with a friend and then shot the film on a miniscule budget of £7000 in three weeks.
Watts admits the final week was the hardest of his life but the social nature of his filmmaking ensured it wasn’t just a job, "I really love working with female/male crew, I would hate working with just men. I want to spend more time on the set when there are girls, it’s more fun, or maybe I just like showing off. When you get girls on the set everyone behaves differently and you gain from it."
This attitude may explain the dominant female characters present in Crimefighters. “I have a lot of female friends who have been influential in my life. When I first started writing scripts the male characters were too much like me so I decided to write from a girl’s perspective. I’ve borrowed lots of snippets of genius from girl friends and I’m also a big Buffy fan. It’s Joss Whedon syndrome, he’s been accused of not being able to create anything without a strong female character and I think that’s my problem."
Crimefighters explores social issues such as binge drinking, "In a lot of towns there’s a drinking culture that tends to be to the detriment of artistic endeavours. There’s so much talent in York; musicians, filmmakers, artists but the pubs are a distraction. I have been in boring retail jobs where the social life is great, you go straight out to pubs after work with your mates and get really drunk. I don’t know who couldn’t relate to that."
Watts is keen to point out it’s not just young people: "youths are scapegoated, newspapers have a tendency to point at the hoodies but I’ve seen many instances of men and women in their thirties, drunken stag and hen nights who cause more trouble. There’s a bit in the film where thugs are threatening a homeless guy and I saw that outside the cinema I was working at. I wanted to make that distinction."
Watts indicates Crimefighters is just the beginning, "In the next year a lot of things are happening. I’m setting up a production company at York Uni, there’s a new film and media centre opening and there are a lot of enthused people who are interested in each other’s work. When Crimefighters was selected for EIFF a lot of people realised that it was possible."
Winners of EIFF 2014’s short film awards and two of its documentary premieres have been nominated for 2015 BAFTAs.