Toby Fountaine

Toby Fountaine is a multi-award-winning London-based director, screenwriter, producer and executive producer.

Toby has written numerous feature film and television projects with several more in development. He wrote, directed and produced his First World War film A Love Worth Fighting For which was shot in September 2021. It is now having huge success on the 2022-23 Festival Circuit and has been developed into a series for worldwide streaming release.

The feature Looking for Kip that he co-wrote, developed and on which he is executive producer, was shortlisted for the 2021 Film Fund Africa Write Project.

He founded film FOUNTAINE, a production company producing several of his projects. He also helped to establish and is part-owner of two other London-based production companies.

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1. Your project has entered in our festival. What is your project about?
A Love Worth Fighting For is an anti-war drama set at the opening stages of the First World War. Shot as a pilot for a series, the powerful standalone film was adapted slightly from Episode One of the Series. It follows the lives of just a few people caught up in perhaps the most tragic conflict the world has even seen.

2. What are your ambitions with your project?
I wanted to make a great Short film. I hope I have succeeded in that. I have been delighted with the success it's having at festivals on the 2022/23 circuit.

But I also wanted to make a point with it: that war is a ridiculous way to resolve problems and that humanity is greater than that. Or should be.

Finally, as I mentioned, it's a pilot for a series that I have now fully developed and am looking for European (English, French and German primarily) production companies to partner with to take that forward.

3. Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
The best thing about the project was the absolute commitment from everyone in the team. It was amazing for me seeing so many people passionate about what we were trying to achieve.

I think two things stood out: the professionalism and skill of our DOP Hsien Yi Niu and the work that every single one of the actors put in to achieve their wonderful performances.

4. For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
People interested in history, drama and good stories.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?
It's powerful. It speaks to people. It's unique. It touches people. It has a good story and the characters are well developed and intriguing. It's historically accurate and the production values are high.

6. How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
I think the way the story builds is powerful and unusual. I have used flashback to build the story and the tension. At the mid-point the real-time action and flashbacks have caught up with each other and the story is one. From then on, there are flash-forwards which hint at what's to come in the real-time story.

I think there are some compelling characters. And I think those characters really speak to people.

7. Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
I love to create stories and worlds and to evoke people's emotions.

In my thirties I realised I needed to be constantly creative to be happy. I love telling stories and I love collaborating with people. And being writer, director and producer means I can be creative in multiple mediums – writing, design (whether on paper, on location or virtually), storytelling, sound, music and so on. I love it!

8. Who is your role model?
As directors I think the later Tarantino films and Anthony Minghella's work stand out for me. And David Lean was terrific – no one makes films with a thousand extras any more!

9. Which movies are your favourites? Why?
Lawrence of Arabia – see above – and the cinematography and scale of it are just wonderful. I've mentioned this before, but I saw Dances With Wolves as a boy, and that blew my mind. I still remember my eleven year-old self watching it. So it might not be a favourite now, but it remains with me. In a similar vein, The Revenant had a similar effect on me. But it's an impossible question – I think it depends what mood you're in!

10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
Past experiences. My imagination. History. Books. Absurdity – most comedy is ultimately a commentary on what is absurd or ridiculous, or wrong. And people. Because people make characters – either little parts borrowed or someone providing the inspiration for a totally fictional character.

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11. Which topics interest you the most?
The characters interest me most.

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
The many awards that A Love Worth fighting For has won has been terrific and a testament to the team that worked on it. Multiple Best Screenplay, Best Short Film and Best Director wins have meant a great deal to me. But I tend to look forward, not back, and some of my best writing in terms of screenplays that are in pre-production are probably what I'm most pleased with.

13. What do you consider most important about filming?
A good script, a good DOP and a good cast are obviously vital. As a director, I think even more important is having the vision to know what you want and not stopping until you have it. If it doesn't feel right on the day, it certainly won't be when you come to edit.

14. Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
That's a broad question. I think "the best" depends entirely on the project and what the director is trying to achieve. The circumstances will dictate that.

15. How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
There's a lot of good content out there, whether it's films or television. I am pleased that the cinema doesn't seem to have died post-Covid!

Production values are forever improving so the bar on that front is constantly rising. I love the range of content that is being made, but I think we all need some more decent comedy.

I think that success in one project (usually from a director) can sometimes lead to over expenditure or lack of thought on a subsequent one, so something can slip which is a shame. But it's complex... and I like being positive... and what appeals to me won't appeal to the next person.

I admire anyone who can make their vision come to life.

16. What can disappoint you in a movie?
Characters that hold no interest. A bad script. Lack of basic research.

17. Who supports you in your film career?
My wife. I am working closely with Executive Producer James Dowdall on a number of projects at the moment. But, really, everyone who I have collaborated with and am working with on future projects at the moment. That's the good things about film: everyone working together to make the best that is possible.

18. What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
Universally, the reaction has been wonderful. Even from those from whom I'd expect an honest opinion!

19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
Yes, several. They are useful if you go well prepared, and fun if you don't!

20. What are your future plans in filmmaking career?
I am directing two pilots this year for two different TV series, both of which I wrote. One is exciting in that we are using cutting edge virtual production techniques in partnership with a studio who have been developing breakthrough technology in this area. The other is comedy with an amazing cast with whom I can't wait to start work!

I have 16 projects in development at the moment (I write, direct, and produce), and I am constantly being asked to write things.

So there's lots to come...!