A Bright Warm Day in May by Matt Hopkins

26th June 2020

This film is part of the series England Your England, an award-winning collection of real stories from the edges of contemporary Britain.

Follow the series at englandyourengland.tv or instagram.com/englandyourengland

Director: Matt Hopkins
Colourist: Matt Jones
Sound Mix: Shane Gravestock

MadeGood – Please give me some background on yourself as a film maker, and how you got into making films. Is this a typical example of your work?

Matt Hopkins – I’m a documentary and commercials filmmaker based in the UK and also co-founder of The Progress Film Company. I’ve always used film as a way to meet new people and try to make sense of the world through their stories which led to the creation of England Your England which this film is a part of. With ‘A Bright Warm Day in May’, I was really interested to learn how people with different perspectives were feeling about lockdown. I’ve always strived to try and create work that feels genuine at the heart and this film is really an experiment in that, using a simple approach to capture genuine conversations in their rawest form.

MadeGood – Tell me about some of the practicalities of how this came to be; were the interviews arranged in advance or was it more spontaneous?

Matt Hopkins – Only one interview was arranged, the one with Richard who lives in his van. I’ve known him for a while now and had been messaging him during the lockdown to check everything was OK for him. As lockdown was coming to an end I suggested we record something on camera and he jumped at the chance. At that point, I hadn’t thought too much about doing more interviews, but it was clear that it was such a universal topic that people genuinely wanted to talk about, so I decided to see if I could film more.

From then on everything was spontaneous. I was walking around with the camera on my shoulder and just asking people if I could ask them a couple of questions about their lockdown experience. The most important thing was to get the camera rolling as soon as possible once they’d agreed to be involved, (usually within a couple of minutes) so that the immediacy of their story could play out on camera.

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MadeGood – It looks like it’s all filmed on one afternoon, is that the case? If so, how were you able to work so quickly, interviewing so many people?

Matt Hopkins – It was filmed across three afternoons during the mini heatwave at the end of May. The weather changed (and lockdown ended) at the start of June which essentially meant no one was sitting outside their houses anymore so that dictated the end of the shoot. As I said above, the key was to be quick with each person and then move on, often spending just 10-15 minutes with each of them. Once I’d done one interview in a neighbourhood, it was a lot easier to get others to talk on camera as they’d probably been watching what I was doing.

MadeGood – This is part of a bigger series called England your England, and in fact I’ve featured another film about Spaghetti Junction from the series previously (edit – this was actually part of a different series, The Lost But Not Forgotten). Please tell me a bit more about the series, and and the people involved.

Matt Hopkins – England Your England (or EYE for short) is a collection of stories offering an alternative look at life in modern Britain through personal stories about those who live a life less ordinary. I started it over 7 years ago now, and it’s mainly been just myself using it as a platform to make the type of films I want to make about characters and stories that inspire me. As a platform, it’s given me space to experiment as a filmmaker as there’s a lot of shared themes and ideas across the films, meaning the films support each other in a way – kind of like individual chapters in a book.

MadeGood – What are you working on next?

Matt Hopkins – I’m currently trying to find new stories for the series and expand to tell them across a feature length format. There’s obviously so much to document with the UK (and world) in the grips of such seismic change that the series is more important now than it’s ever been in giving a platform for people to share their alternative ways of thinking and living, prompting self-reflection in others as a result.

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