Interview with the creative team from the BAFTA winning Short Film Home

We catch up with Daniel Mulloy and the creative team from Home, which won the 2017 BAFTA for short film and screened at Encounters Festival in 2016.

Images L-R: Daniel Mulloy (Writer & Director), Afolabi Kuti (Producer), Arta Dobroshi (Actress and ‘Home’ Exec Producer)
Daniel Mulloy photo by Jetmir Idrizi Producer Afolabi Kuti Actress and 'Home' Exec Producer Arta Dobroshi

Do you have a personal connection to this story?

Arta Dobroshi (Actress and ‘Home’ Exec Producer): Very personal, as personal as it can get,  I myself lived in a war zone for half of my life and was a refugee.  I believe that our film does justice to the refugees as it puts you in their shoes for a short period of time.  I think that this story is personal to many people in the world, we just have to look back at our ancestors lives.

Afolabi Kuti (Producer): I guess I connect through being a migrant to the UK rather than a refugee. However I have a few friends who are former refugees. They’ve all had very different experiences however the starting points for them were all the same. They were just living their lives in their own countries and then tragedy struck. It’s great to be part of film that can recognise the journeys that they had to make.

Daniel Mulloy (Writer & Director): Many who collaborated on the film, Arta and Shpat Deda as producers and many of the cast and crew are former refugees. We all, as a team, have different kinds of connection to the story and for many of us, from the UK, it was simply empathy and wanting to respond to what is happening. Ultimately my personal connection comes through the love I have for my grandmother and for the love I have for my partner, both of whom were formally refugees. And now, through meeting families on a nightmarish journey from a current war, I am finding that after having escaped death many people are facing terror and desperation again, in a different guise.

Why do you feel it is particularly important to tell this story now?

Afolabi Kuti:  It’s interesting because Daniel was at the coalface of this particular European crisis of refugees a few years ago. He had developed this story before the images of survivors and dead bodies on beaches that we saw last year appeared on screen and in the newspapers. By the time we were making the film it was everywhere and in fact the release of our film was in the run up to the Brexit vote. The war zone in our film isn’t set in any particular country, as refugees are everywhere, so really this story will always be important to tell until a day when countries around the world are all stable and safe.

What was your filming process like in Kosovo? Did you face any challenges?

Daniel Mulloy: It was the most amazing experience. It felt as though we quite literally had the support of an entire country, from the general population to the police and Security Services everything flowed. Kosovo’s hospitality is incredible and their support as a nation is immense. The talent is very deep and driven so when there is a project that people can really get their teeth into, very special things can happen. It is an incredible place to work and I would advise anyone looking to shoot films to check out Kosovo as a destination. It has such a rich heritage of stories, talented people and incredible locations. Perhaps our biggest challenge was flying the UK team back home, everyone fell in love with Kosovo and wanted to stay.

How long did the creation of Home take from you coming up with the idea to completion?

Daniel Mulloy: I think it premiered in March of 2016 and I believe I started thinking about making it at the end of 2013.

Home in many ways seeks to bring the refugee crisis closer to home for British audiences. By reversing the nationality of the family were you intending to challenge the wide lack of empathy in Britain in regards to the refugee crisis?

Afolabi Kuti: In short, the answer is yes. I think that has been the beauty of Daniel’s script. Daniel didn’t really reverse the nationality but he reversed the journey and swapped the refugee family with one from the UK. It kinda hits you twice, firstly that this can happen to anyone at anytime, and secondly it gives people an understanding that people aren’t migrating because they want to but because they have to. They are literally running for their lives. That’s been the disconnect with a lot of people I feel. I’ve had friends ask, why are people risking their children’s lives by making these journeys, when the reality is whatever is left behind will be killed or destroyed. They leave with their loved ones and whatever they can carry as nothing will survive, if it was safe they would have no need to leave.

Arta Dobroshi: From my perspective, I believe that there is lots of empathy in Britain in regards to the refugee situation.  This is not the first time that Britain is dealing with that. Back in 1999 when the war in Kosova was going on, Britain helped us immensely and played a huge part in us being a free nation today, and we are forever grateful. And I truly believe that today, the majority of the British population, wants to help and welcome refugees.  It is in our nature to feel love for one another. Our film shows you that we are all the same.

Daniel Mulloy: We all have the capacity to be empathetic. Sometimes, I think, perhaps particularly now with extreme right wing groups collecting and utilizing the internet and analytics for political gain, there needs to be a re-considering of what caring, empathy and ethics means in this era. A lot of currently accepted norms need to be challenged.

The chemistry between the cast members is incredibly realistic. Did the actor’s improvise throughout the filmmaking process, or were  their interactions scripted?

Afolabi Kuti: Daniel had a really powerful script but he also has this amazing knack of drawing really authentic performances out of people he works with.

Daniel Mulloy: Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger. You have incredible talent on screen and they deliver something devastating. They embrace their roles so fully that what we are watching on screen has a truth, an emotional truth that comes from their bravery and vulnerability. It resonates. And their connection to one another and their incredible chemistry with their children, (in the film) Tahliya and Zac, was the key.

Are you interested at all in developing Home into a feature-length film?

Afolabi Kuti: A feature film that explores the world of refugees would be great. We are currently developing another unrelated project.

Daniel Mulloy: Thanks for this interview, we really appreciate it.

Thanks to Daniel Mulloy (Writer & Director), Arta Dobroshi (Actress and ‘Home’ Exec Producer), and Afolabi Kuti (Producer). 

Watch the trailer below:

Home (Trailer) from Somesuch on Vimeo.