A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cal Freeman about his work and his experience in the industry as a Queer Irish Film writer and director. We spoke over Zoom about the proudest moment of his career so far, where he gets his inspiration from, his upcoming plans and aspirations, and his advice for other young filmmakers.
Cal has produced a wide range of work including documentaries, music videos and short films. Most recently, Cal was selected to direct a project for the BBC 100: Make Film History, which was supported by organisations such as the BFI, BBC Archive, Irish Film Institute, and Northern Ireland Screen. He told me that his proudest moment to date is his short comedy film Hold the Sausage (2021) that has been screened at festivals around the U.K. as well as in L.A.
It focuses on contemporary Irish teenager Saoirse at a family dinner with her Catholic grandma and the chaos that ensues when she refuses her Sunday roast sausages. Although only five minutes long, the film certainly packs an emotional punch even whilst maintaining its “light-hearted” tone. Cal said that he wanted it to “promote queer sexuality and identity within a Northern Irish lens” which I would certainly say it succeeds in doing.
Following on from this, we spoke about using his personal experiences as inspiration in his work and being “so aligned” with who he is as a creative that he has felt “euphoric” in seeing it produced and has been “chasing that high since”. Cal’s aim as a Queer filmmaker is “creating what we [the Queer community] never got” on screen with “actual, authentic representation”. We discussed how in recent years there have been improvements in film and TV as Queer characters are no longer portrayed “as a mockery” or “side elements or accessories” and instead “we’re taking the main roles”, Cal told me.
Cal graduated from Newcastle University but is currently based in Manchester which he called a “main Queer hub”. Of course, any fellow students at UoM will know Manchester’s Queer scene well, with everything from its history of Queer icons to its long-standing Gay Village, but it was interesting to talk about it with someone and actually reflect on Manchester as a Queer city. Cal told me how this was the first city where he saw “an older gay couple holding hands in public “strong and concrete and firm” which I thought was an accurate and beautiful summary of Manchester.
From there, we discussed what it’s been like for him as a Queer Irish filmmaker to produce works with such personal resonance. He said “it can be cathartic but can also be challenging” as “the stories are important to tell” but can obviously take a toll in the process. We spoke about how one of the pillars of writing advice is to write what you know but that isn’t always possible and can be challenging if you’re a member of the Queer community.
Cal’s upcoming plans:
Cal described himself as having “big goals, big dreams” which I thought was nice to hear from someone honestly about how they’re working hard and what they’re aims are. Often people shy away from telling others about their ambitions out of fear (I know because I’ve been there myself!) so it was certainly refreshing to talk to someone so hopeful and confident in themselves. After his recent success with Hold the Sausage, I’m looking forward to see what Cal does in the future.
He told me he’s just been working on pushing himself “harder and better and faster” with goals including creating a feature film and a “Netflix ten part TV show” which would definitely be exciting! Currently, Cal has various projects on the go including developing a short film that “explores the challenges of forming young queer identities in toxic environments”, and he will also be releasing a new music video soon with a Manchester-based singer-songwriter.
We spent a while talking about manifestation and affirmations as this is something that Cal regularly channels. He said that this is important if you’re considering a career in the filmmaking industry as “half the game is mentally believing you are that thing and you’re going to be that thing, and then run towards it and don’t let anyone else stop you”. So for any aspiring filmmakers reading this, Cal has proven that it’s possible to pursue your dreams!