Don’t ever co direct with someone! For my final year film project at London Met, I was nominated to be the director. Another guy also wanted to do it so I agreed to let him co direct with me. It was a complete disaster as we both had very different visions and ended up arguing in the edit room. I would eventually take the film and make my own cut afterwards and learnt I should only direct alone!
As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michael Gamarano Singleton.
Michael Gamarano Singleton is a half Brazilian, half English Writer/Director/Producer. He grew up in the north of England and managed to get a place at London Met Film where he graduated in 2009. His work often revolves around social issues designed to make audiences think. His short film ‘Denzel’ won multiple awards including the Grand Jury Prize at the 35th Edmonton Film Festival officially qualifying it for an Academy Award. His latest short film ‘Swim’, staring Omari Douglas (It’s a Sin) & Chris Jenks (Sex Education) is starting its festival run as of May 2022.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in small city called Preston in the north of England to a Brazilian mother and English father. We didn’t have a lot growing up but I had all the love and support from my family that I ever needed to set me on my way!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always wanted to study film but it wasn’t accessible for me growing up. I applied to every film course in London but they all rejected me, except for one — London Met — but it had a few conditions that had to be met! They asked me to send them some short stories I had written, an analysis of a film I like, and a few other things. I immediately freaked out and didn’t do it. Then two weeks before the course was going to start I found the courage and sent them what they needed and got in! I studied film production there for 3 years!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
One interesting story is whilst in pre production for one of my short films — Denzel, the country went into lockdown. We weren’t sure if we could still shoot but we checked all the rules and it turned out we were allowed due to the fact it wasn’t something we could do from our own home! We had to rejig the whole production schedule and make it so everything was shot in one day. So with a very tight schedule in place, Denzel was shot in the same day!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
On my previous film ‘Swim’, we cast Omari Douglas and Chris Jenks. Two actors with pretty big profiles so I was nervous to how they would be on set. But both were super gracious and real professionals and didn’t complain once despite having to spend the majority of the film in a swimming pool!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people who helped me along my way but I’d have to say it all started when Elaine at London Met took a chance on a young kid with no film experience and gave me a shot. She let me onto the film course and I wouldn’t be here today if she didn’t.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I would have to say ‘Impossible is Nothing’ by Muhammad Ali is a quote that I’ve always lived by. It’s inspired me throughout my life to never give up on my dreams no matter how big they are.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is so important in media and it’s something I am also super passionate about. The first reason is representation. It’s important for everyone to see ‘themselves’ on the screen. Another reason is it represents modern culture. I live in London and the beauty of this city is the diversity. So it’s important that this is reflected on our TV screens. And lastly it introduces people to other cultures. So it can also be educational!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My projects are usually based around social issues and the latest one is based around religion so it’s going to be an interesting subject to delve into!
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
I would have to say seeing your work on the big screen and having people come up to you afterwards telling you how they were moved by your work. I recently screened ‘Denzel’ to a college of young film makers and afterwards someone approached me and told me seeing my film has made him want to embrace his disability (Denzel touches on the self acceptance of disability). It’s moments like that, that make you feel proud.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t wait to make your films. There will never be enough time or money. Just get to work. I’ve definitely made excuses in the past!
- Don’t feel like you need to be a finished product at the start. You will learn your art as you grow and it’s ok to not be ‘the best’.
- It’s ok to feel nervous when you’re directing.
- Watch as many films as you can and be a real student of film as soon as you can.
- Don’t ever co direct with someone! For my final year film project at London Met, I was nominated to be the director. Another guy also wanted to do it so I agreed to let him co direct with me. It was a complete disaster as we both had very different visions and ended up arguing in the edit room. I would eventually take the film and make my own cut afterwards and learnt I should only direct alone!
When you create a film, which stakeholders have the greatest impact on the artistic and cinematic choices you make? Is it the viewers, the critics, the financiers, or your own personal artistic vision? Can you share a story with us or give an example about what you mean?
I’ve been super lucky that I’ve had final cut on all my films so far. I think it’s important the director should have final cut as it’s their vision. My last film ‘Swim’ was privately funded but my financiers trusted my vision and they were happy with the final results. So I guess I’ve been lucky to date!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to make film making accessible to everyone. Growing up, it only felt accessible to people with money but there are so many people out there who want to tell their stories but don’t have the access to film making courses. I would love more free courses on film making.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Ricky Gervais. He is a big inspiration for me and the office is still my favourite sitcom of all time. I think he is a comic genius and would make great conversation.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Yes my instagram handle is @micksing8 and my production company is @mixing_productions
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Michael Gamarano Singleton: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.