Four Perfect Shots with DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER Director of Photography, Simon Tindall

By Madeleine Finlay-Hudson

Simon Tindall has an impressive array of credits, that span from the coast of Cornwall (Fisherman’s Friends) to the heart of Lancashire (Northern Soul). His keen eye for detail and his ability to shine a spotlight on the poignancy of the real world combine to offer a collection of naturalistic displays of emotion throughout his work. And Simon Bird’s Days Of The Bagnold Summer is no exception to this.

In light of the recent release of Simon Bird’s directorial debut, we asked Tindall to select his four perfect shots from the film and offer us an insight into the charming world of the Bagnolds.

Overall, Days Of The Bagnold Summer has a very specific feel to it, it’s very familiar and accessible for audiences of any age. Gentle, with a lot of heart. How did you and Simon (Bird) reach a decision on the style?

Tindall: Simon had a lot of ideas about what he liked and precise composition was always at the heart of that conversation. How could we place our characters in the frame in a way that bolstered the story and their dynamic as much as possible? How could we find the paradox in each scene — the tragic and the comic, the bitter and the sweet, the suburbs and the metal. We planned for long takes, minimal editing and un-intrusive lighting to ensure we prioritised performance in a very tight schedule. I think the film really speaks for itself in how beautifully directed it is — and also how beautifully executed the two lead performances are. Monica (Dolan) and Earl (Cave) set that quality bar on Day 1.

Let’s discuss your favourite shots:

Shot One: The Opening Credits

Why did you pick this shot?

Tindall: This shot from the opening credits was very intentionally constructed. We planned the frame and then searched high and low for a location to match that intent, which we found 3 weeks into the shoot. We took skeleton crew and shot really early morning to maximise the backlight and give us a solid template for the credit graphics to shape round. It has a playful and slightly nostalgic quality we felt would really set you up for the world you are entering.

Shot Two: Inside the Bagnold Home

Why did you pick this shot?

Tindall: This still is also from very early in the film, setting out the precision in composition that we followed through the film. It sets up the boundaries around Sue and Daniel’s separate lives despite existing in one space. This simple image also says so much about the world of the film. The symbolism of the phone call and what it means for both of them, the nod to Riley, their dog, who is also a pivotal plot point. And the stark contrast of Daniel’s costume, a gothic silhouette lost in Sue’s domestic, bright suburban world.

Shot Three: The Car Park

Why did you pick this shot?

Tindall: This shot is quite far into the film as the conflict between Sue and Daniel is close to peaking. It gives us the continuing separation and shadow between them, and there is a sense of weight that comes from the concrete and industrial feel of the setting, and the layered framing of the characters. But there’s also an optimism that comes from the light in this scene that I like and it hints at possibility ahead.

Shot Four: The Cafe

Why did you pick this shot?

Tindall: This scene feels so quintessentially British and the bright, nostalgic quality gives a strong sense of place that was important to us all in the making of the film. But it’s also a scene that shows tentative steps of connection between Daniel and Sue as we see in the evolved framing of them together in this scene. We shot this on our first day in Southend and had to time the shot carefully to be able to catch the light that would pick up exterior detail through the window.

Thank you for your answers, it’s truly amazing how much can come from such a simple frame or narrative. Cinema really is incredible. Given this, when you’re looking through the script or piecing together a scene, what do you think denotes a ‘perfect shot’?

Tindall: For me, it’s just about articulating a story, so the answer is different for every film. It’s rarely about being showy, it’s more about how the space of the frame can give the most to the actors — and to the feelings, we are trying to provoke in the audience.

Days Of The Bagnold Summer is out on digital now.

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