Spotlight

Anna Maguire

The actress and director of award-winning short film Your Mother and I reveals her influences and what she's working on at the moment.

  • Actress and filmmaker Anna Maguire

Anna Maguire: 'Just make things and don't be afraid to ask for help'

What’s your connection to the British Council?
They very kindly gave me a travel grant to attend the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 with my short film Your Mother and I. I subsequently won the Best British Short award at the 2017 London Short Film Festival for the same film, and am going to take part in the Unbox Festival in Goa in January 2018 as part of the prize.

What are you working on right now?
I just finished acting in Kim Nguyen’s latest film The Hummingbird Project which was a great experience. On the directing side, I recently finished my latest short film Constellations, which explores the very beginning of a young woman’s sexual exploration beyond the confines of her relationship. I am working on the script for my first feature film about a difficult mother-daughter relationship set against the inequalities of the London housing market.

What/who originally turned you onto film?
I went to a French school in London, and there happened to be a casting notice for an unknown film project looking for French-speaking kids. I had just performed in an opera at the ENO with the children’s choir I was part of, and I’d got the bug for performing. My mum let me audition, and I got the part in Saving Private Ryan. The same casting directors, Priscilla John and Lucinda Syson, gave me a script for Ever After. I got that part, and it all took off from there. Being on a set as a kid was such an exciting place to be – I loved how well-oiled the machine was, how everybody worked cohesively to make something larger than the sum of its parts. I’m still not over it all these years later!

What was your first job in the film industry?
Jaqueline, the little French girl in Saving Private Ryan. A unique first job in the film industry experience!

What is a key piece of advice you would give someone starting off in film?
There isn’t one way in. Everyone has their own story, their own way to start working. Be nice to people, put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Also, just make things – find a group of people who are as passionate and interested in whatever it is you’re into – and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

What is your favourite British film?
I’m not very good at favourite anythings, but I’m a big fan of If… by Lindsay Anderson, Red Road by Andrea Arnold, London by Patrick Keiller, Hunger by Steve McQueen and any of the Monty Python films. And it would be remiss of me not to mention Withnail & I.

If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
Jurassic Park! I so wanted to be Lex in that film for the longest time. I’d die a happy woman if I could direct something as unique, funny, poignant and daring as Toni Erdmann.

What’s the first film you remember seeing?
Fantasia, at the cinema with my mum. That's  probably my first memory full stop.

What's your favourite screen kiss?
All of the kisses in Call Me By Your Name! That is one romantic and sexy film.

Who’s your favourite screen hero or villain?
Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

Who would play you in the film about your life?
I was looking at these questions whilst sitting with the BFI Future Film Academy group I’ve been teaching, and one of my students piped up that it should be Emma Stone. But maybe he was just trying to get on my good side...