Molly Manning Walker & Charlotte Regan Discuss Lessons Learned From Their Debut Features ‘How To Have Sex’ & ‘Scrapper’ — Storyhouse

Writer-director-cinematographer Molly Manning Walker and writer-director Charlotte Regan revealed some of the big lessons they each learned from their respective debut features How to Have Sex and Scrapper and imparted advice to an audience of screenwriters at Dublin’s inaugural Storyhouse festival for writers.

Manning Walker, whose How to Have Sex won the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes last year, had spent a number of years as a cinematographer before launching that film, about a group of British teenage girls who go on a rites-of-passage holiday in Malia, Greece, and spoke about how that had impacted her process of writing.

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“The truth is when I started writing, I guess it came through like visuals and I started to write visuals and everyone was always telling me that I needed to find some story because I was just writing visuals and I still get that note, so maybe I still need to figure it out,” quipped Manning Walker.

The British talent admitted that when it came to the shoot, she hadn’t realized during the process of writing what a daunting task she had set up for herself as a director. “We had like 300 people a day for the first two weeks and I was throwing up because I hadn’t realized the task of what I had put in front of me, which was trying to get everyone dancing to no music whilst trying to get a performance from an actor that I didn’t really know that well in the middle of this hot and sweaty situation – it was just very tricky.”

For Regan, whose debut feature Scrapper won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at Sundance last year, she pressed that her past experience of editing her previous shorts and music videos proved to be a big help for her debut feature. (Manning Walker served as DOP on Scrapper).

“Editing informs me when I’m scheduling,” said Regan adding that a lot of the references she used for the film were The Bourne Ultimatum and Harry Potter. “I don’t know where we got them from, but they were our main points of reference so there was lots of ‘How can we do that Bourne Ultimatum sequence but on 50 pounds and a half hour of Lola [Campbell, who stars in Scrapper] because she’s only 12-years-old?’”

Manning Walker added that it was helpful to think of how the money would look on screen so you can make sure “you’re putting it in the right place – you need to be able to figure out what you do and don’t need and making sure you prioritize that.”

Regan said she was always keen for her debut feature to sit at a low budget, in the hopes she could retain more creative control across the project. “I was always weirdly obsessed with not doing a first feature over £2 million or something like that. I didn’t want to get a sales company on board before the shoot because there were already a lot of opinions, and I was worried about having another opinion in the room.”

Regan spoke to collaborating with Manning Walker on Scrapper and said that while there were “sequences within them that were unachievable” having Manning Walker aboard as a cinematographer was a huge benefit because she “understood what was at the heart of what I was trying to say, and she knew how to scale it back and make it look great for less money.”

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