We talked with Tommy Draper, the writer of “The Maid” (Pro Kopf in German) about the challenges in making a film in just one location, with just one actor, and with a low budget.
What did it feel like, winning the Best Original Screenplay award at Top Shorts?
It felt amazing! The Maid had been on a brilliant festival run, Top Shorts was the last time we were going to enter it anywhere. Finishing on such a high was so perfect for us, and for me as a writer.
How did you get the idea for the film? I hope it wasn’t based on a true story…
The original idea was found online, a very short screenplay written by another writer. The director passed it to me, I loved the idea, but felt it could be so much better. We were kindly given permission to make our version of it. Naturally the original writer credited is with ‘story by’, while I did the new screenplay from scratch.
Watch The Maid's official trailer
The film was shot in one location, showing one character only. Sounds like a challenging mission. How do you keep the viewers engaged throughout the film?
Now that is a challenge. For me, I tried to write the most engaging script I could. Keep everything tight and moving fast. I didn’t want to waste a single line, but give the viewers chance to get engrossed in the character’s world. The acting talent really made the film shine, along with excellent direction, camera work, editing, sound design and music. Everything had to be spot on, or we knew we would lose people.
As a scriptwriter, you probably imagine the scenes differently than the director. What was it like, working with The Maid’s director, Sascha Zimmermann?
It was very easy. Myself and Sascha have been friends for years. The Maid was our 2nd film together, but we had worked together on many screenplays, some of them are filming this year. He has always stayed faithful to what I write, and we collaborate throughout the screenwriting process, with me making sure he’s getting what he wants. The film turned out as I expected, better in some ways.
Can you think of three tips for indie filmmakers, based on your experience?
1. Screenplays are very important! I know I would say that being a writer, but films like The Maid need a solid script. If you have that, you can make a great film.
2. Never give up. It took years for us to get The Maid filmed, for one reason or another. We were about to pass on it when we gave it one last go. It has played in festivals for 3 years and picked up 6 awards in total, so it was worth persevering.
3. Love what you do! Writing, filmmaking is hard work, so make sure whatever you’re working on you love. That way, it feels all the more rewarding.
Are you working on a new project?
I’m currently working on a lot of projects. I have two new short films coming out with Sascha and his team. One is in post-production, the other is coming to the end of pre-production.
I have a modern-fantasy short in pre-production with regular collaborators Triskelle Pictures, we’re expecting to shoot that this summer.
I’m working on one short action script. And I have just taken on the task of writing two sci-fi features, all of these are with directors I have never worked with before, I’m very excited about all of these projects.