Elliot Barnes-Worrell Director/Co-Writer & Hasti Co-Writer Of ‘Digging’

Elliot Barne-Worrell – Director & Co-writer Of Digging

Please introduce yourself…

Elliot: I’m a filmmaker from Peck(narm)ham.

Hasti: I’m a British-Iranian poet and writer living in New Cross. I’m also studying for a horticulture diploma at Walworth Garden, which is a great little oasis just off the Walworth Road near Kennington tube station. I recommend going and having a look around if you haven’t visited before, there are a lot of interesting workshops and educational stuff going on and they’re really helpful in supporting people getting into horticulture.

The inspiration for Digging?

Elliot: We looked backwards in order to look forward. We knew we wanted to create an analogue future with its feet on the ground, or in this case in the ground. When we looked at Black people and people of colour around the world, there was a connection with the soil and growing things. I’m also fascinated by memory and how subjective it is, what our brains do to our memories, and how there’s never a universal truth of events. Other inspirations for Digging for me are Black people, people of colour, Cowboy Bebop, Octavia Butler, the mandem/galdem/themdem, The endz, allotments, and poems.

Hasti: It’s funny because Elliot and I just sat down one evening and spoke about what sci-fi was to us and the story sort of emerged. I’m a huge nerd and love sci-fi so much as a genre, and for me, the best sci-fi always comes back to the stories and experiences of the characters. We also really wanted to write something that wasn’t dystopian, that was hopeful because the fact is that we live in a dystopia already, and so many of us still experience joy every day. We wanted to show Black and brown people continuing to try, and even to thrive, like we always have in spite of the world around us. There’s this sci-fi short story anthology called Octavia’s Brood, written by activists and edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha, and on the back cover it reads: ‘Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing visionary fiction.’ Using imagination in that way is really important to me.

Tell us about the team you worked with…

Elliot: Conrad Kira, the composer of the film. He is a genius and has a knowledge of music that is almost superhuman. I can say “this melody needs to be more purple,” and he understands what that means. The editor, Stella, made the film; her work went above and beyond anything I could imagine. Catherine the DOP for my money is the best. I’ve worked with her for six years and she constantly astounds me. Paix the costume designer created the most beautiful world of styles and fabrics, that were both out of this world but also nostalgic. Elen the designer took the pages and created a whole world beautifully. Yaw, for being honestly the most hardworking and kindest producer. Fiona for her relentless hard work and vision. Without Hasti there would be no film: Hasti brought the story to the page and put a bit of her heart and poetry into it. I wish I could write everyone’s names because it was
the hardest working crew.

Hasti – Co-writer Of Digging

Hasti: The whole writing process, with Elliot and Fiona and the whole team at Film4, was really fun and challenging, and I really appreciated incorporating their feedback into the script. It was also just amazing to see Elliot lead the team so fluently during filming: it was my first time on a set, and the joyous and collaborative atmosphere, as well as the sheer number of people involved, was really impressive. Everything about the film was done so beautifully by everyone who was part of it.

What does the story mean to you?

Elliot: This story for me is about friendship, love and family. We wanted to show us how we are, that no matter what happens, Black people and people of colour will survive and make something. It explores trauma too, but not in a way that dominates our characters.

Hasti: Yeah, same. It’s about people living and helping each other.

Tell us a memorable moment from idea to final edit?

Elliot: Watching the cast inhabit the characters with life and soul in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Hasti: Elliot wasn’t able to be there, but for me the first screening of all the Foresight films last summer, organised by We Are Parable, was incredibly memorable. Seeing Digging on the big screen and in full context was a really meaningful moment.

Share a skill-defining moment making this film?

Elliot: There are three trick shots in this film, which I’m not going to spoil. Catherine and I managed to work out how to do one without cutting at all! Felt like we created something new.

Hasti: I’ve learned loads about scriptwriting, the nuts and bolts of how films are made, the feeding back process, editing, even bits of how VFX works – just everything, really.

What’s next?

Elliot: My feature, which is currently in development with Film4.

Hasti: For now poems, poems, poems, but I want to come back to screenwriting really soon.

Digging is showing as part of Foresight films. Available to stream on All 4


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