Interview: Cabby

Documentary filmmaker Daniel Watts discusses his film Cabby and his creative process


Cabby’s showing at Lift-Off was perfect given it’s Manchester setting. It contained shots of many locations that would be familiar such as Fifth nightclub during freshers week. Giving an interesting insight to the people who aren’t often noticed, I’m sure it’ll spark more people to chat to their taxi drivers on their next night out. If you’d like to read my review of Cabby before progressing to the interview click here.


Your film was also shown at Manchester International Film Festival in 2015, why was there such a gap between that and Lift-Off this year?

I made the film whilst at University and after I left I decided to set up my own production company. Since then I have just been doing corporate work for companies like Speedo, with the intention of becoming a documentary filmmaker and hopefully one day doing a feature film. It’s been two years since we filmed Cabby and it just makes me reflect, giving me motivation to make more films.

When you do reflect on Cabby are there things you see now and think ‘if only I didn’t include that’ or vice-versa?

I’m a massive perfectionist, so when I’m watching it I just shake my head at all the mistakes. In the development of making the film I spoke to at least 70 taxi drivers and they can be quite flakey and hard to track down at times. There was one in particular who dropped out last minute which was a shame as they had some really interesting stories.

Was Cabby your first attempt at a documentary?

I’ve done a few documentaries before, for example one about the street art in Manchester. Cabby was my final project though. I love meeting people and always had experiences of going on nights out chatting to taxi drivers and just having random conversations. It’s because of this that I wanted to document the characters.

As you progress through your career, what are the shorts you’d really like to make given free range?

Personally I really like obscure cultures and scenes. The different ways that people act that are unique. In the same way I’m a big fan of Louis Theroux’s social commentary documentaries.

Do you watch lots of films or do you concentrate on documentaries like Theroux’s to get filmmaking ideas?

We are starting to see more and more documentaries incorporating a cinematic style which is taken from films. I love both and watch a diverse range of things in order to learn about different styles I could use. I can only see myself making documentaries though. The stripped back feel, just getting to know people and learning about their life experiences. There are lots of topics which have already been done so I try to find the more out-there people.

Are you working on another film? Or have plans for the next one?

Not currently. I want to be a filmmaker but I want to make a living being a filmmaker and sometimes you have to compromise in order to make the films that you want to make. As I said I’m such a perfectionist and once I meet person or subculture I’ll immediately know. Wherever I go I’m always on the lookout for my next topic. Everybody I meet I try to read them and suss them out to try and see if they are short worthy. There is a gut feeling I get when I know I’ve found the right thing.

Click here to go back to the Lift-Off Homepage to check out more reviews and interviews

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