15th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL 2022
Section: Hearts On Fire
Boy meets Girl but with no dialogue or contraception.
Hey Celine, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Hey! I know, it’s been a journey.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Prangover was actually shot in between lockdowns, so yes. I’m usually an actor, and the upshot of having an unwanted pandemic break from acting was that I was able to dedicate the necessary time to teach myself how to write, direct and edit - it was a slow process.
What does it mean to be screening Prangover at the 15th BFI Future Film Festival?
It means a huge amount (maybe more than the recommended amount if there is such a thing). I go to the BFI all the time to see filmmakers I worship present their films, so to have mine shown on the same screen gives me chills, it seems ludicrous. And I’ve gone to the BFI Future Film Festival before too, so it was a proud moment for me to make the selection and be nominated for best director too!
Prangover is going to be in the Hearts On Fire Section of the festival, will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?
Can you tell me a little bit about how your debut short film Prangover came about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
The story is an amalgamation of lots of experiences (not necessarily all my own) of the whiplash effect women experience when they think they might be pregnant or have got an STI from someone they haven’t been seeing long. It sucks but it can be hilarious in a darkly comic way, and I got home and wrote a very rough draft in one sitting. It flew out of me which was strange. Writing is usually agony. The look of it was clear from the get go and guided the whole project maybe more than the story even did, as the idea is really quite small. I found the aesthetic side completely addictive which sometimes made me wonder if i was guided more by style than substance. I just tried to squeeze as much comedy mileage out of it through tools actors don’t get to play with, like the movement of the camera, the colour palette, the edit...
When working on a short film like this how close where you able to keep to your screenplay once you started shooting, did you allow yourself much flexibility?
None at all, we had to shoot 7 locations in 2 days so the planning was meticulous, storyboards for everything, and a shot list that was ordered by camera placement rather than scene so that we saved time by not having to move the camera. The freedom only came later, in the edit, where because it’s a mostly silent film I could really play around with the order of the images a lot.
"I don’t think there’s a catch-all thing that all filmmakers “should” be doing, and I’m not always sure I understand what pushing boundaries actually means."
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Prangover to life?
I was going to say learning to edit from YouTube but actually it was gathering a crew, because it’s not as simple as looking it up on the internet. I sometimes thought it was going to be impossible, especially as I was unemployed and self-financing it, wanted to make it with all women, and didn’t have any prior films to my name to entice people to work with me. But in the end we got such a good team. I found some people in the strangest of ways. I first heard of my DP Tasha Duursma from a hinge date, and begged for an introduction. The Girls in Film Facebook group is pretty useful too.
Since making Prangover what has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making this film and will you continue to write/direct short films?
I will absolutely continue to make shorts, because although the tone of Prangover was really fun, I want to explore something that isn’t quite so stylised.
Where did you passion for filmmaking come from?
How much has your background as an actor helped you in writing/directing Prangover?
It helped a lot for the scene where they speak because that was more of a proper scene than the comic strip style images that make up the rest of the film. I felt comfortable communicating with the actors because I’m so used to reading in self tape auditions with friends. But I think actually it’s more the other way around: the directing and especially editing has made my acting improve, I think!
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?
I don’t think there’s a catch-all thing that all filmmakers “should” be doing, and I’m not always sure I understand what pushing boundaries actually means. I think different films do different things and there’s space for that. But it’s good to be rigorous, to commit to whatever it is you’re doing - whether it’s a story, or a visual language, or humour, or authenticity, or anything!
For anyone out there thinking about directing their first film do you have any tips or advice you would offer them?
I just googled this to make sure I got it right and apparently Abraham Lincoln said it, which I didn’t know but I share the sentiment: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe.”
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Prangover?
I hope the phrase “I don’t like condoms” will disappear from one-night stands