Film, Interviews
Dec 4, 2021

Director Spotlight: Camille Griffin on ‘Silent Night’

We had a chance to chat with writer-director Camille Griffin on her new film Silent Night, starring Keira Knightley which is out in theaters and OnDemand now.

A star studded cast rounds out a not-quite holiday family film. A dark take on a popular genre, Keira Knightley is joined by Matthew Goode, Lily-Rose Depp, Sope Dirisu, Annabelle Wallis, Roman Griffin Davis. The movie kicks off like many holiday dinner-genre films. Don’t sit back and get to comfortable as the family dynamics play out, because a music darker struth is slithering beneath the surface which takes us into an uncomfortable but much relatable reveal.

PPLA: When you see Silent Night as the title, immediately the holiday song comes to mind, why that title?

CG: It was supposed to be a working title, but then it just made sense, Silent Night, because it’s kind of ironic you know? But it (the film title) wasn’t really suppose to last or stay, but then people kept proposing other ideas which were terrible, I thought, and then we couldn’t find something better really. So it was a working title, you know when you open up your final draft and you have to put in a title and I just typed in Silent Night immediately and it stayed.

PPLA: What brought on this idea that death in a quiet form was easier than suffering?

CG: Well, I go to and have always gone to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy believes that in order to become truly concious you have to expect suffering, and to rid ourselves of our own demons is to accept suffering. So I believed in this theory that to save humanity you have to suffer, and I have an issue with my class system. It’s my relationship with the previous class I was brought up in, and they don’t want to suffer about anything. If they’re upset they make a cup of tea or send their kids to boarding school or they employ someone else to take care of the problem. So it made sense, if I was going to talk about the previous classes, and to parody them, to make the film about avoiding suffering.

PPLA: Was that a commentary that a commentary that you wanted to make on society?

CG: 100% yes. I’m trying to examine and challenge our opinion and I find it hypocritical in England and maybe also in America, entitled people get to say and make decisions for the world, which they haven’t really earned. And my experience with the privileged class in England, and obviously I’m generalizing here, I can’t talk for everyone, but they’re a broken society. Yet, they’re the ones who run the government and run the school and make decisions, and are the judges in court, and I don’t think that’s right. So I was trying to, yes, I was looking at the values and other things like parenting, and yeah, I’m trying to have a socialist argument in the film 100%.

PPLA: How was the casting process for you? The cast is incredible, were they offers or auditions?

CG: It was very interesting actually, with Roman (Roman Griffin Davis) being an actor and myself (his mom) it’s always tricky if you’re setting them up for loads of takes and auditions and how far should an actor go in order to get a job? But basically Matthew Vaughn (Producer) came onboard and I’ve been trying to make films for years and Matthew Vaughn changed my life here, he said “lets make this movie,” and that was the first thing. Matthew’s a very clever entrepreneur and businessman and filmmaker, he has many talents. One thing is he’s not afraid of anything and he believes in himself and he goes to get what he wants. He asked me “who do you want in this movie” and I said Keira Knightley, and unintentionally when I started writing (Silent Night) I thought to myself my God this reads like a Working Title movie (Production Company) like an English Christmas family genre. And when he asked who should be Nell, it was like well Keira Knightley because that’s what the genre tells us and because I’m challenging the genre and I’m taking the piss out of the genre we need to give the audience what the person they expect to see, which is Keira. And the fact that Keira said yes and had the courage and the character to carry on with this was really extraordinary. Really, I’m grateful to her. So it all started with Keira basically.

PPLA: Watching the film there were alot of parallels with Covid-19 and the difficult conversations that families were having and the unfairness of care thats been doled out. Is that what spurred this conversation within the film?

CG: I did not. I wrote the film before Covid-19 and we shot the film before Covid-19. We started filming in February of 2020 and the government didn’t go into lockdown until our final week of shooting, I absolutely did not intend to make a film about, that had a reference to the pandemic. Actually, they wanted to bring the film out about a year ago but, none of the studios felt it was appropriate and they were right. Because, that was going to traumatize audiences. But, I think the parallels, well, I think the sad thing about this movie and the pandemic is it does exaggerate people’s value systems. What the pandemic has taught us is we need to step out of our comfort zone and take care of people. If that means you have to take the vaccine, then you have to take the vaccine. I have constant arguments with people I love who don’t want to take the vaccine, I’m very pro the vaccine. No one takes the vaccine because they want to stick a needle in their arm, they do it because they feel they should. It’s the right thing to do and we care about the rest of society. So, there’s definitely those comparisons. But, I didn’t intend that when I wrote the film, if that makes sense.

PPLA: What message do you want audiences to take away from Silent Night?

CG: I think people are already having these conversations, so I don’t think I’m doing anything unique. But I think what I have did that may be a bit cool is go “let’s not pretend this shit isn’t happening,” and we all have a responsibility to take care of one another and if we’re not going to take care of one another then lets at least admit that.

PPLA: Is there anything you learned about yourself while writing and directing this feature?

CG: Yes. I supposed I’ve learned this before, that I’m not a perfect human being and what does it mean to have values and not to do anything? What does it mean to just do something, or to do nothing? I learned that the priviliged really need to educate themselves about more about the political systems in the world and that’s been a big lesson for me the last two years. As a filmmaker I learned how important it is that it’s a shared process. My greatest lesson is that if you intend to make something that is just so brilliant if you get at least half of it, then it still stands. But I’m also very humbled and grateful for the experience and the people who helped me on this journey.

In a fun roundup to get to know Camille personally we picked her brain on what she’s been into at the moment.

PPLA: What music are you listening to right now?

CG: Oh thats a hard one. I’ve been listening to Neil Diamond recently and that’s the truth.

PPLA: Are you reading anything right now?

CG: I should be! I’ve got three scripts to read and two books to read and I haven’t read anything but I wish I was. I do read a load of articles on instagram though.

PPLA: What is your go to spot for food?

CG: Well…we live in the countryside which is a great source of frustration to my children. I love Japanese food, Thai food, Chiense food, Vietnamese food, LOVE.