Producer Claire Mundell on The Cry and new film, Only You

Synchronicity Films are a Glasgow-based production company who develop and produce feature films and television drama. After their massive success with the award-winning BBC series, The Cry, starring Jenna Coleman, Synchronicity’s latest film, Only You receives its UK release today.

The modern-day love story, starring Laia Costa and Josh O’Connor, was produced by Synchronicity Films, The Bureau and Crybaby. The film received £400,000 from Screen Scotland’s Film Development and Production Fund.

We caught up with Synchronicity Films’ Founder and Creative Director, Claire Mundell to hear more about the company and the exciting journey they’ve been on since they began.

A headshot image of Claire Mundell smiling

Claire told us about her background, what inspired her to found Synchronicity Films, and where it all started.

“I started out working for some independent companies, then the BBC, and ultimately became Head of Children’s at CBBC, where I stayed for 10 years making a range of network childrens’ shows in various genres - culminating in a 26-part live action CGI animation series for BBC One called Shoebox Zoo. After that, I decided I really wanted to specialise in scripted drama and feature films, so left and set up Synchronicity in 2006.

“I felt, and have always felt, very passionate about making high quality, distinctive work from Scotland for UK and international audiences, showcasing talent from Scotland to the world - and I wanted to show that it was possible to build an award-winning drama company from a base in Scotland.

“I could see that a day would come when the Out of London and Ofcom targets, for the BBC and C4 in particular, would provide a strong foundation for a scripted business. I could also see what an impenetrable nut that was to crack and I’m motivated by things which seem impossible! So, I wanted to give it a crack.

“On the film side, I recognised the appetite for quality, distinctive indie film with a Scottish point of view. Though our slate at Synchronicity is always eclectic across a wide spectrum, there is always a kernel of a Scottish element in every project – whether it’s the writer, the novelist, the setting or theme.”

We heard a little bit about the behind-the-scenes at Synchronicity.

“At Synchronicity I head up our project slate, finding and developing projects with our Development Producers and the wonderful array of writers we work with.

"Once we feel a project is ready, we take it out to potential partners, whether in film or TV, and then go along the road of development, then financing before ultimately casting and packaging the film for production.”

What aspect of a story inspires you to make it into a film or TV series?

“I get inspired often by true stories which have something important to say about the world we live in. They have to be character led and have a question at the heart of them which feels particularly pertinent to now.

“I’m also very drawn to stories based on truth or inspired by real people who show us aspects of ourselves we would otherwise find it hard to see. I love the ‘what if’ that a great story can provide for us to experience events we might never otherwise encounter, but which we can experience vicariously through great characters under pressure in extraordinary circumstances.”

We asked Claire more about The Cry, which aired on BBC One last year. She told us what she was most proud of about the series, and what her favourite part of producing it was.

“The Cry has been a great experience from start to finish. I started developing it in 2012 when I first read Helen FitzGerald’s wonderful book and was completely hooked by the story and the character of Joanna.

“There’s so much about the show I’m pleased with – Jacquelin’s fantastic scripts, an average nightly share of 7.3m viewers on BBC One, fantastic critical reception, amazing direction from Glendyn Ivin, a breakthrough performance from Jenna Coleman - but I’d say the thing I’m most proud of is that together we’ve made an extremely high quality, international piece of work, and that Synchronicity is the first, wholly privately owned Scottish indie to make a network drama for BBC One from a base in Scotland, from a piece of IP written in Scotland and partially shot in Scotland.

“It proves the point I set out to make some years ago – that it is possible to create a successful scripted indie company in Scotland. Talent isn’t about geography – only about opportunity. But you have to make your own opportunity happen.”

"I love the 'what if' that a great story can provide for us"

“I’m very drawn to stories based on truth or inspired by real people who show us aspects of ourselves we would otherwise find it hard to see. I love the ‘what if’ that a great story can provide for us to experience events we might never otherwise encounter, but which we can experience vicariously through great characters under pressure in extraordinary circumstances.”

Claire Mundell
Founder and Creative Director, Synchronicity Films

Only You is released in the UK today, Friday 12 July. What can audiences expect from this emotional story?

Only You is a beautiful, tender and insightful story about the challenge of staying in a relationship when love, no matter how strong, doesn’t give you everything you want.

“Our Writer-Director, Harry Wootfliff has crafted an intimate and sometimes searingly sad portrait of that challenge. Through the lead characters, Elena and Jake, we experience something often ignored on-screen – unexplained infertility, the inability to have what for many is the most simple and straightforward life event, having a child.

“Expect to cry, expect to understand a point of view you might never have considered, expect to feel hope, and to experience a depth of love that is hard won. Let it move you. Take hankies!”

Only You received its Scottish Premiere at Glasgow Film Festival. We asked Claire what it was like to screen this Glasgow-set film there.

“It was wonderful for the film to have its Scottish premiere at GFF! We shot the film 100% in Finnieston, mostly within walking distance of our offices and with a crew mostly based in Glasgow, so to screen it to a home crowd was extremely gratifying.

“It was fantastic to be able to show characters like Jake, who is English, and Elena, who is Spanish, living and working in Glasgow, a portrait of the city which feels so true to me.

“Glasgow is such a vibrant, international place full of different cultures and nationalities and it isn’t always represented that way on screen. It’s often about 10 years out of date on screen, so to show the world our characters inhabited so realistically, was a joy.”

What’s next for Synchronicity Films?

“I’m very excited about the future! We have an incredibly strong slate of projects, including the adaptation of the Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller, The Tattooist ofAuschwitz,which we are developing as a very high-end scripted series.

“We have Graeme Macrae Burnett’s His Bloody Project,which will be a dark and intense, noir period thriller; we have Karen Gillan’s debut film The Party’s Just Beginning,to be released in the UK later this year, an original tv series by Kirstie Swain, and an adaptation of Hanif Kureishi’s novella, The Body. So much! We can’t wait.

Find out more

You can see Only You in selected UK cinemas now. The film will be screening at Glasgow Film Theatre - check out screening times here: https://glasgowfilm.org/shows/only-you-15.

To find out more about Synchronicity Films, you can visit their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram.