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Truckers Atlas 1

Truckers Atlas 
Sheffield Shorts 2020
Fiction // Drama

Interview with director & co-writer Dan Thorburn

Firstly, tell us about the film and what inspired you to make it?

Trucker’s Atlas explores emotions too often repressed in men. Especially in a male dominated, blue collar, working environment. The idea was born out of a conversation with myself and my co-writer Jack Sherratt. We discussed writing about real people and about real issues that we see every day and the one that stuck with us was how men talk about emotions, or don’t talk about them. We spoke about friendships and working relationships and human connections,  and eventually literal connections, electrical and telephone. And from that came a vague plot of what is now Trucker’s Atlas.

Do you feel the issue of masculine ideals within society needs to be showcased more on screen? 
As outdated forms of masculinity have become scrutinised in modern society, I became interested in portraying the men who continue to rigidly adhere to a set of ideals associated with the male psyche. These feelings are still prevalent and therefore I feel this is an important subject that is perhaps under-represented in British cinema today. 

After visiting most of the festivals the one piece of feedback that I hear time and time again is “I know a man like that, and I wish they’d seen this” and for me that confirms that this was the correct film to make. Emotional repression in males is something that will continue to be an issue until the outdated perception of masculinity is dealt with.

What made you decide to set the film within a rural landscape instead of say, an urban one?   

The large and expansive location helped me to portray these two big, strong, working men as small, alone and vulnerable. Just as the power line cuts through the natural beauty of the forest, the mens lack of emotional communication cuts through them and cuts them off from the world. I think their characters could have easily have become lost in an urban world, leaving them without a voice.

I was also very interested in cultivating a transatlantic look to the film in hopes that this would further allow the film to be transposed to a North American audience. This is an aesthetic that I have always been drawn to, hence the denim overalls, mental tool boxes and large pine trees.

Finally, what are you working on next? Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I am currently in pre-production for my next BFI funded short ‘Salt Water Town’ which is set to shoot in February (2021). The film, set on a caravan park in North Wales looks at issues of rural poverty, generational difference and the environmental issues we are facing along the British coastline.
I have also just finished working on a series of music videos for Sheffield artist Ed Cosens (Reverend and the Makers) who is releasing his debut album. I directed four music videos which link together to make a short film, these will be released one per month in the run up to his album launch in January; the first of which is out now.
I am also working on the early stages of a feature film in which I hope to build on the important messages touched on in my previous shorts. 
truckers still coloured

Actors Neil Bell and Kris Hitchen as Mike and Rob.


Dan on set