Paul Sng is proof positive that if the opportunity is there then talent will grab it. Growing up on a South London council estate, Paul came to filmmaking later in life, having previously worked a series of dead end jobs. That all changed when he met the band Sleaford Mods and, almost on a whim, decided to document their tour in the run up to the 2015 general election. Sleaford Mods: Invisible Britain (2015) solidified Paul’s career course correction, with his next project also demonstrating a social conscience, Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle (2017). His most recent documentary, Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (2021), offered an intimate portrait of the punk icon as told by her daughter, Celeste Bell, and earned Paul a BAFTA Scotland nomination.
In his own words:
“I come from a working class background and when I was young, going into filmmaking didn’t seem possible. When I met Sleaford Mods I’d never made a film or picked up a camera before, but I saw an opportunity to make a film that would be part music doc, part state of the nation; about a band articulating the disenfranchisement many people feel towards Westminster politics. I found someone to co-direct it, we raised money via crowdfunding, and off we went. From concept to cinema release took just 11 months. Having not gone to film school, I think I had what Orson Welles described as ‘the confidence of ignorance’...
“I then directed Dispossession, followed by Poly Styrene. Those first three films were my film school. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I’ve been very fortunate to work in fantastic teams and learn from brilliant producers, editors and DOPs.
“There’s a certain kudos within the industry for being associated with BAFTA. So getting on this scheme I know will open doors. One thing I want to do is improve representation in our industry, particularly of British east and south east Asians, the community I come from. For the past couple of years, 50 per cent of our cast and crew has come from underrepresented backgrounds, across class, race, disability, gender. Living and working in Scotland, that’s a massive challenge because it is a lot whiter than, say, London, but we’ve managed to do it so far.”
Paul’s Breakthrough credit is the film Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché