May was a great month, and we were spoiled for choice in terms of quality films. We had a fantastic look into videogame consumption and how the boundaries with reality can sometimes get a bit blurred, and we also had a snapshot of a really difficult relationship. Yet, the ultimate winner – Man Off the Coast – is a gentle and bittersweet look at loneliness, acceptance and belonging. We had the pleasure of chatting with director Matt Sedgley.
JL: Matt, congratulations – what a film Man Off the Coast is! How happy are you in terms of how it has been received at festivals so far?
MS: I am in complete awe of the reception Man Off The Coast has received. It is a story with a very strong personal connection to me, so I was blindsided by the sheer amount of people that it has touched and the feedback I’ve got so far. Couldn’t be happier!A person and person looking at papers Description automatically generated with medium confidence
JL: What is the main source of inspiration behind your film?
MS: Before fully pursuing a career in the creative field, I was a Mental Health Professional. One of the main reasons I left that sector was my experience with private companies and the “profit above care” mentality that was ever present in their decisions and actions. Social Care should never be run for profit, and the vulnerable people it supports should always come first. Tom, our co-lead, embodies the empathy and understanding I wish our Social Care had, picking up the slack from Molly’s support workers. But normal people can only do so much. They can’t be expected to plug the holes left by a system that is failing them. It should be reformed, run properly and appropriately funded from the start.
JL: Man Off the Coast deals with different emotions: regret, loneliness, alienation, acceptance, belonging. What would you say is the film’s main takeaway?
MS: Be nice. Be understanding. Be hopeful. Care for your fellow man.
JL: Your movie builds a great chemistry between two characters who meet by chance, yet they have a lot in common. What was the main challenge in making sure that this stayed relevant to the film’s theme?
MS: The underlying theme of Man Off The Coast is Empathy. It didn’t matter that these are strangers to one another because empathy is present in everyone. Humanity IS empathy and when they recognise it in each other, it didn’t matter that they had just met, it becomes a meeting of souls.
JL: You’ve won both the best director and the best screenplay prizes – congratulations! Which one was the greater challenge, and why?
MS: I would have to say I found the writing trickier than the directing. I have always loved the latter, having done my fair share of music videos and small films, so I’m comfortable doing it. But as the source material for the Man Off The Coast was something so personal, and something I was so passionate about, the pressure to do it justice was great, and coupled with my minimal writing experience, it was certainly a challenge! However, I relied on my desire to keep it as authentic as possible, so that an audience could be carried along by two characters in Molly and Tom with whom you can really relate, and as a result, the characters ended up telling me what to do. I’m very proud of how the script turned out.
JL: Tom Laxton also won the best cinematography award – how happy are you with how everything turned out from this perspective?
MS: Tom is a fantastic DOP. He was so passionate about the subject matter and story behind Man Off The Coast and really brought my vision to life. In prep he was pitching all these ideas for shots and colour schemes; it was a great experience having him on board. I’m delighted with what he managed to achieve on camera and him winning best cinematography only supports that!
JL: The serene coastal location brings a distinctive charm, and a contemplative mood – where did you shoot the film?
MS: Lancing Beach just down the road from Brighton Beach. During pre-production, we met some lovely people called Katy & Martin who owned a beach hut at Lancing Beach which was perfect to house our Tom in. They were kind enough to allow us access and without them, we would have really struggled because as we learnt…beach huts are bloody expensive and in surprisingly high demand.
JL: Any other projects in your pipeline at the moment?
MS: There’s a couple of short films that me and my brilliant co-producer Courtney Sherratt are working our way through at the moment that we’re aiming to shoot this year. So hopefully you’ll be seeing them very soon!
JL: Thanks for your time, Matt! Hoping to see more of your work in the future!
MS: Thanks for having me and I look forward to seeing many more incredible filmmakers on TMFF.