Lee Sales has spent the last 12 years living in East London. After school he attended art college and went in to graphic design before travelling around India for a couple of years. He recently finished co-writing and directing his first feature film, Turnout, starring Ophelia Lovibond and Neil Maskell. He is currently developing three scripts and hopes to make his second feature next year.
What training have you received?
I didn’t go to film school, but attended a few workshops in screenwriting and directing. From the age of 18, I immersed myself in film theory and books and studied most of the important filmmakers. Eventually I started writing screenplays and almost made a film with a friend of mine in 2001. Unfortunately it never happened but I did get to meet George Russo and Francis Pope through the casting process. We struck up an enduring friendship that eventually led to us making Turnout together. In the years leading up to Turnout we wrote and made our own short films, so I guess this was my film school.
What kind of projects attract you?
At present I’m happy working on my own projects, scripts that I’m collaborating on with other writers. I’m interested in the sort of stories I would like to see myself; everyday human stories that I can relate to are far more appealing to me than extravagant plots with cardboard cut-out protagonists. I’m also drawn to characters that are flawed but still behave in an honest way.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a director?
Be well prepared, but if something presents itself on set and feels right, go for it. A quote I find interesting in terms of writing is ‘Just because you thought something that happened to you was interesting does not mean everyone else does’.
Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far
The first day on the set of Turnout. It was the culmination of years of hard work and felt so gratifying to see it finally come to fruition. I couldn’t stop smiling. Towards the end of the first day my DP said, ‘You’ve got the best job in the world now’.
You’ll die happy when…
Christopher Doyle is DP on a film of mine. Not that I want to die yet.