An Interview with the Tallest Man in Aldershot
An Insight into the Height
Ryan Colleran is a young filmmaker from West Yorkshire. He is currently studying Film Production at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. I have known him for many years, and he agreed to sit down with me and talk about his latest film, The Tallest Man in Aldershot.
Malcolm: So, where did the idea of the film come from?
Ryan: There is a list of questions that every tall person knows off by heart: How tall are you? Are your parents tall? What size feet are you? Where do you buy your clothes? Do you have to duck under doorframes? Do you play basketball?
And then there are the comments that are supposed to be funny; What's the weather like up there? Did your parents put you in a growbag? You know what they say about big feet!
I could go on and on. So the film was born out of a frustration really. I wanted to make fun of it in my own way, and subtly make fun of the people who were asking these questions. There are scenes in the film that are obviously not true, like the trouser making scene, for example, so I really liked the idea of pretending to have these ridiculous problems, so people would stop and think 'maybe its not that big of a deal,' you know?
What were your inspirations for making this film?
Ryan: I got a lot of inspiration from The Office (UK). There is a scene where David Brent makes fun of Stephen Merchant's character, The Ogg Monster, who is obviously very tall. It's only a short scene but it makes me laugh every time, and I really like the mocumentary format that The Office pioneered. So I wanted to make a mockumentary all about my height-related issues, and try and balance the comedy on making fun of the people who make stupid comments, as well as getting comedy on how I react to it all.
Would you change anything about the film?
Ryan: There was quite a lot in the script that we were unable to shoot, due to time constraints and things like that, and a few small scenes got cut during the production, and then a few more got cut in the edit phase. But overall I'm pretty happy with the film and there is nothing that I would be desperate to change.
What were in those deleted scenes?
Ryan: I had a whole idea of a scene showing the lack of leg room on public transport, and we obviously couldn't get an aeroplane to film on, and we couldn't get a response from the bus company or the train company, because its not showing their service in a very good light, so I had this whole idea of doing it guerrilla style, just filming me getting seated on a train, without getting the permission, and the whole crew were ready, but we were stopped by a train guard and he told us we weren't allowed. So that was cut.
And I had this idea of having like a GoPro camera attached to my head, for a 'Ryan's eye view,' but unfortunately I couldn't get hold of a GoPro in time, so I had to cut that.
In the edit, I cut a minor shot of me squeezing into a car, and another shot of an ATM, purely for getting the pace right, and getting it down to the time limit.
What challenges did you face when making the film?
Ryan: The biggest challenges, as I've already mentioned, were the time constraints. On one hand, we had the equipment for about three days, so I had to get it all shot in that time, and arranging it with the crew, and the actors was very difficult.
And on the other hand, because it was a university assignment, there was a three minute run-time set by the course specifications. So I had this big eight page script that I needed to cut down into a three minute film. And you can see that I failed, because the final run time is about three minutes 40 (seconds). But I was lucky that the tutors were quite lenient about it.
Another big challenge was the budget. Or the lack of budget. Everything was free, the crew were nice enough to buy their own train tickets and do it all for free, and the only costs really were the chocolate bars I bought for them after the shoot.
But overcoming these issues was one of things that really gave me a sense of achievement.
To what extent do you feel reluctant or inclined to share your work?
Ryan: Part of me did feel reluctant to share my work, because I was worried people wouldn't like it, or worse; wouldn't laugh at it. But because the film was part of my course, I really had no choice other than to show it, and the positive reaction to that made me feel better about sharing it.
Where has your film been screened?
Ryan: The film was screen in my university as part of the course, and it got a pretty good reception.
I submitted the films around a number of festivals, and was lucky enough to have it actually screened at three of them. Including the I.Make.Film Festival in my hometown of Halifax, and the Camberley International Film Festival, that was judged by a British actress called Juliet Aubrey, who was on Primeval back in the day. I didn't win the competition, but did get a nice photograph with her anyway as consolation. And the film received a positive reaction everywhere it was been screened, so I'm pleased about that.
What is next for you, Ryan?
Ryan: I'm currently working on my graduation film. It's a comedy called Swingers about a couple who invent a child so they can have a go on the swings, but it all gets out of hand very quickly. It was written by my good friend Theo Ashley-Brian, and will be finished for about Easter, 2018.
Thank you very much for agreeing to speak with me.
Ryan: It's been a pleasure Malcolm, thank you.
Ryan is on Twitter: @ColleranRyan
Follow me on Twitter: @MrMalcolmHardy