Filmmaker Series: Khyle Manby-Evans
My name is Khyle Manby-Evans, I am a writer/director/cinematographer based in/from Shrewsbury/Shropshire.
What initially got you into filmmaking?
Getting into filmmaking for me is a slightly embarrassing story… but one I really enjoy telling people if they ask. Film has always been a big passion for me, my parents are both film buffs & that managed to find its way to me. My mum’s biggest mistake was sitting me down to watch Robocop at 3 years old… safe to say I had a nightmare or two.
Filmmaking itself, that came from my dad, he had a camcorder that he was slightly in love with & he would film family holidays, birthdays & even the odd wedding or two. Between the two of us, we came up with the idea to make our own Michael Bay-esque action movie with my aptly named action men.
I’m sure plenty of kids wanted to use their toys as characters in their own fictional stories of chaos & mayhem. Sadly, we never got around to making our life changing action epic but the love of filmmaking lived on.
Years later I decided to turn that camcorder/action man dream into something a little more grown up.
Who are your biggest influences and why?
In terms of filmmaking, one of my biggest influences would have to be David Lynch, the master of madness. During my late teens/early twenties I feasted on the likes of Blue Velvet, Lost Highway & Eraserhead. To this day, Twin Peaks is in my top 5 TV shows of all time. Lynch is incredibly artistic & layered in his work, but at the same time his work is chaotic & absurd. I’d say he’s an obvious choice for those looking for something off the beaten path, but his beautiful imagery & captivating stories had a huge impact on a lot of my writing during my formative filmmaking years.
Jumping ahead in time & into more contemporary influences, Nicholas Winding Refn is certainly my main go to for finding my rhythm in filmmaking.
His 2011 film, Drive, stands at the top of my all-time favourite films list. His writing, characters & stories feel very personal to me & have had a big impact on what I write & the films I make.
Refn has been compared to Lynch in the way he conveys his themes & stories & I’d say that unique style & vision drives me to create stories that stand apart, even if I’m still learning to fully harness that ability.
How important is film as a medium and art form in the world, today?
Cinema is a relatively new medium within the art world, given that literature, music & even writing has been around for centuries longer. However, cinema has been one of the biggest draws to audiences all over the world for over a century now. Its accessible, universal & most of all enjoyable.
Like music, film can tell a million stories with not a single word. For all the languages out there, cinema is one that everyone can understand. Unlike time gone by, the availability of cinema is now almost a right, anyone can log on or turn up & watch a piece of cinema.
In a more societal way, cinema provides not only an escape from the reality of the world, but also it can provide an insight into the parts of the world that many of us don’t see or choose not to look at.
Whereas 50 years ago, finding cinema from around the world would’ve been a challenge, today you can discover whole movements at the click of a button.
Do you have a set process when making film?
I’d say my process is as normal as any filmmaker, the idea comes then the film begins. Sometimes inspiration strikes immediately & out comes the notepad. Others I need to sit down & rummage through the brainbox to see if there is anything more than cobwebs up there.
For me, a lot of my inspiration comes from the situations around me, I try & keep my characters very grounded & focus stories on subjects which really draw a parallel with either my own life or someone I’ve known.
Human relationships are what really draw me in, the connections between people & how we either develop or destroy them. As much as I love superheroes, monsters & space battles, the simplicity of human interaction really brings to life my love of storytelling.
What has been your favourite film to work on and why?
Considering I’ve only been back in the filmmaking business for just under a year now, it’s incredibly overwhelming how quickly I’ve bounced back into it.
I’ve made a good number of projects in 2020 so far & more to come, but my favourite film to work on would have to be “What She Saw”, my breakout short.
It was my jump back into larger scale filmmaking & tested me not only as a filmmaker, but as a leader of people.
Directing these incredible actors, ensuring we got the best visuals & making sure the story was as potent as it could be. “What She Saw” gave life to that love for filmmaking again & ever since then I’ve not wanted to do anything else.
If I could go back & change certain aspects of the film… sure. But the experience & the people I met, they helped bring me back into the creative world I love.
Which genre do you enjoy working in?
Well as a child I grew up on horror & the dark side of cinema. My dad crazily allowed me to watch films that plenty of grown adults may have thought twice about. Halloween woke up that passion for filmmaking, but also showed me that being a filmmaker was actually plausible a move.
In 2015 I made a short horror film called “Run & Hide” with my (then) girlfriend. We shot it, starred in it & gave it life. The film screened at a local horror festival & that was my first taste of horror filmmaking.
Although I love working on human drama’s & expanding my palette as a writer & director, horror has a special place in my heart.
Is filmmaking your primary source of income?
Filmmaking is, as anyone will say, a seriously challenging industry. You don’t just walk out of university & into a film job.
I left university & got a job in retail. I didn’t have a clue where my career was going or if I would even have one. Fast forward to today & I still work in retail, however I’ve had my first paid filmmaking job & have set up my own videography business.
The struggle of holding down a job & trying to make filmmaking a career is a serious uphill battle, however late nights, early mornings & some serious commitment & you’ll be surprised what you can achieve & ultimately find your way into making that passion into a money maker.
What is your definition of success?
Success is different for everyone, but for myself its knowing that I’m doing exactly what I want to do. Being true to yourself & using your passion & talent to achieve the goals you set. Two of my films were recently nominated for several awards, I’ve managed to bring together incredibly talented cast & crew for upcoming work & my works are building audiences every day.
But to me that’s just a biproduct of what real success is. To me, real success is someone feeling engaged & better about themselves because of something you created. If one person watches my films & enjoys them then I’ve succeeded.
What advice can you give our readers, should they wish to pursue filmmaking?
I’m sure this has been spouted over & over, but hey ho… to those who would like to pursue filmmaking, please remember that no one watches a film because the camera operator used an Arri Alexa or a Red Dragon, no one watches a film because the editor was using Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Davinci Resolve. Audiences watch a film because what they see on screen captivates their imagination & to do that you need a powerful story, engaging characters & most of all, the love for what you do. If you don’t love the art of filmmaking, then you’ll never be a filmmaker. Your imagination is the most prized possession in any filmmaking arsenal & guess what… its free!
Do you ever suffer from creative burnout? How do you combat it?
My biggest fear is sitting down & realising that my mind draws a blank & nothing new appears. When you go on a streak of ideas that you’re excited about & start developing or if you’ve just finished a project & you’re in that limbo between things, it’s a little daunting.
When “What She Saw” was released, I enjoyed knowing the film was done & out there, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that that could be it. But in true Hollywood spirit, to avoid the creative limbo, I looked to my previous work & evaluated if there was anything I could re-imagine & with that came my upcoming short, Confession. Sometimes looking backwards can be the key to moving forward.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on two short films, the previously mentioned Confession. This is a re-imagining of my debut short film from 2013 of the same name. This is psychological thriller that as a nice little twist that I wish I would’ve thought of back then.
The second, The Things We Say, The Things We Do, is a tale dealing with themes such as grief & acceptance. This story has a great deal of personal connection to me & it felt like the right time to air those feelings & put them into something constructive.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’m very invested in the present right now, but I hope that my future will see me making filmmaking my full-time job. It has been amazing to have some paid work come through this year & some prospective work coming up is motivating for the future.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing & directing short films, however this year I’ve finally began work on my first feature film, which I’m hoping to have finished (in the writing stage) by the end of the year.
As I said previously, filmmaking isn’t an easy industry to break into & it has taken me a great deal to get as far as I have, however it is worth it when you get to do what you do & work with such amazing people.
Lastly where can people find you?
I run a YouTube channel, Over the Moon Pictures, which features my short films & also my other outlet, film reviews. I began reviewing films on a consistent basis at the beginning of the year & it’s a great way to keep the creativity flowing.
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