By David Llewellyn
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3rd September 2018

IRIS PRIZE – THE THINGS YOU THINK I’M THINKING

Director Sherren Lee talks to the Iris Blogger about her powerful short film.

The early stages of dating can be awkward at the best of times, Queer dating even more so, but the difficulty of meeting and becoming intimate with another person when one party is disabled is a subject rarely explored in cinema. Sherren Lee’s film The Things You Think I’m Thinking does just that with touching honesty and authenticity, and features an incredible performance from Canadian actor Prince Amponsah in its lead role. The Iris Blogger caught up with Sherren to discuss the film and the real life behind it.

IRIS BLOGGER: The Things You Think I’m Thinking was written by Jesse Lavercombe, who plays Caleb in the film. At what stage did you join the project? 

SHERREN LEE: I’d worked with Jesse in the past and he brought me the script. We worked on it together for about a year before we went to camera. It was a great time developing the script with Jesse.

IB: The story draws heavily on the real-life experiences of Prince Amponsah, who plays Sean. Was it difficult for him to revisit some of that? 

SL: The script was written specifically for Prince, so it was entirely inspired by him. When we met, I told him that, obviously, he’s the expert — so he had the power to call bullshit on me whenever he wanted. And I relied on him to keep us honest. But I can’t speak for Prince about how difficult it was for him to take on this particular role.

IB: But as a director, did you have to change how you might usually work with actors, with the story being so intensely personal?

SL: Working with Prince was like working with any other actor. Everyone is different, and I’m always attentive to how the actors are absorbing the character and my direction. I think being an actor always means accessing a personal part of yourself. It’s such a vulnerable thing. So I remind myself to be mindful of that. At the same time, actors are professionals too — they have their process and know how to take care of themselves. But of course, the best teams look out for one another. Working with Prince was no different.

IB: You’ve directed nine short films, and you were the writer for six of them. What is it you enjoy most about working in short form cinema?

SL: Ha-ha! Yes, I’ve made a lot of short films. Partly because I didn’t go to film school, so I needed to make a lot of stuff to learn it all myself. But I definitely have a lot of love and respect for short form storytelling. I think it’s really hard to tell a complete story in such a short period of time, and when I encounter a script that does it well, it’s a no brainer that I want to be involved, because I find them so rare. I love the opportunity to get a full, poignant story across, with a real beginning, middle and end in a short film. It’s so satisfyingly efficient.

IB: You’ve also worked in television, and you’ve written and directed a web series. It’s an exciting time for TV drama, so is that where you see your career staying for the foreseeable future?

SL: It’s been such a joy and a thrill to work in TV. The idea of having several directors on a single show is wonderful and so cool to me, as we all work hand in hand to create a singular series, with each episode reinforcing the Showrunner’s vision and the show’s core identity. That’s so exciting. I definitely intend to keep working in television.

IB: And would you like to try your hand at a feature film?

SL: I am indeed working towards my first feature right now. I have a script and hope to go into production next year.

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