TBB’s Nora Denis Speaks to Actor/Writer/Producer Anthony Vander About Film ‘The Tutor’

Antony Vander

Antony Vander

TBB caught up with actor/writor/producer Anthony Vander on the eve of his new filming project The Tutor.  Tackling new and thoughtful subject matter, the young filmmaker displays signs of much growth in a very short period.

Curious to know what spurred the change in direction we were sure to make the most of our chat, in which we discuss Vander’s progression as a filmmaker, businessman and teacher.

How does it feel to be working on your second feature film so soon after wrapping up with Sweetboy (2014)?

It feels great. This is a story that I want to tell and I didn’t want to have to wait around. When we shot the trailer, that feeling of being on set came. With Sweetboy, it was pickups and the festival circuit that was the main play of 2014. I’ve had the idea of The Tutor in my head for quite a while now – it was important that after the American Black Film Festival (where Sweetboy was an official selection) that I locked myself indoors and typed it all up.

The Tutor covers themes such as disenfranchisement and loneliness, something that many people can relate to, what or who inspired the story?

I’ve worked in education as well as the film industry for over 4 years now and it’s fair to say that this film is one that is extremely close to my heart. I’ve seen many scenarios played out in the classroom, some good and some not so good. Teaching, like many professions, brings up challenges which you have to deal with. I found myself asking a lot of questions after the last school I worked at, such as: how can I sharpen my teaching skills? What adjustments can I make for this kid to have the best chance of success in life? No matter how challenging life can be, as a society we have shared values that enable us to learn and grow, and this is what prompted me to write this story.

How much influence would you say your work as a drama teacher and youth mentor has on your filmmaking?

I find myself using the same language with a child actor that I’ll use with a teenager or adult. There are some scenes and moments that are based on my experiences. With Sweetboy, myself and Joe wanted to tell this darkly comic drama that is about consequences of ones actions. With The Tutor, I wanted to tell a story that was personal to me. They always say write what you know best. These themes that are present within the film are themes that need to be talked and acted upon.

As a British filmmaker, what do you feel can be done to support more independent projects such as The Tutor?

There needs to be an infrastructure where creative and business careers can flourish. The two really aren’t going hand in hand especially on an independent level. The industry over the years has taken up a lot of bad habits, such as cast and crew working for free. With Sweetboy although it was a labour of love and self-funded, I’ve made sure the cast were executive producers meaning that they take a cut of the sales. I’m really encouraging talent that I come into contact with, to understand the business so that they can be in control of their careers and make a full time living from the arts. The business side of the industry has to really be honed and valued. In the UK there also has to be an encouragement of filmmaking especially to the youth. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled to some incredible film festivals. For instance in Berlinale, they have a section dedicated to children – a whole section! That right there is inspiring! But I would say injecting a business education so that there is a transparency on all sides.

Where do you see the future of filmmaking going the UK?

I see a lot more co-productions with America, and also Asia. I see more debate and talk about certain issues. Whether those issues are acted upon, I cannot say. I intend on making a big contribution to the industry and creating dynamic truthful narratives. I see the UK creating films of a diverse range, from the blockbuster hit of Paddington (2014) to an art-house production of Under the Skin (2013). The future is bright but only if we allow it to be.

From the outside filmmaking can seem very glamorous, what advice would you give to young hopefuls who are trying to break into the industry?

Don’t just work very hard as that’s a given, but also work very smart. Filmmaking is a step by step process, from the pitching of the project, and raising finance to pre-production and post-production. Meaning that you have to do the research about everything, from the genre of your film to other filmmakers. Watch films you admire and watch films you don’t admire. Everything is a learning process. Before anyone else can believe in your film you have to believe it first and that means cutting no corners.

What are your hopes for The Tutor, what impact do you wish to make on people with this film?

Well we shot The Tutor trailer to attract investors for a feature. I think with the footage I have, I’m going to push it even further to put a short together. We are in the process of packaging The Tutor. I’m working with Film Engine which I’m really excited about. When the full feature length film is made we will release it theatrically and also online. This film will move people but also challenge them. I always wanted to make films that are impartial or have no moral stance but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any standout themes here. Those such as adversity and loneliness. I want people to think and have a debate about it, but more-so to ask themselves questions of how society can help to educate not only others, but ourselves too.

The Tutor stars Stephan Bakic as Junior, Anu Ogunmefan as Alex, and John Terence as Dan.

The Tutor is currently in production. Find out more at:

interview by Nora Denis / @lifeandstuff  for the british blacklist

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