A seemingly conventional young woman's anxieties reveal themselves through her secretive evening job.
Hey Eva, thanks for talking to tNC, how is everything going?
Good thank you!
This is going to your European Premiere for Diagnosis, are there any nerves ahead of your screening run?
No - I’m always excited when there’s a chance to see a film I’ve made on the big screen.
What does it mean for you to be at the 25th Raindance Film Festival?
I’ve never screened here before so I’m really interested to check out the festival and see the other films. I’m looking forward to it!
Tell me a little bit about Diagnosis, how did the film come about?
The producer of the film Emilie Jouffroy approached me while we were at film school with an idea based on the setting of medical role play. Medical role play is where actors pretend to be sick for medical students so that they can learn to deal with different types of patients. As soon as Emilie mentioned the idea of doing something in this world I was so excited at the potential for a story which played with what is real and what is not. We threw around ideas for a while and originally saw it as more of a straight comedy. When a funding opportunity came up through a BBC Films/NFTS initiative to fund short films by graduates we submitted the idea. When we were selected for the funding it focussed our minds a little - and it developed slowly but surely into what it is today - a strange, psychological drama about a very complicated woman! It was really interesting to come to a project with an idea which was originated by someone else and then shape it into something that felt like my kind of film.
What was the inspiration behind this film?
I was really interested in the performative elements of some kinds of femininity. How some women can try and present a non-threatening and seemingly perfect image to get on in the world.
What has been the most challenging scene for you to film?
I don’t want to give anything away - but there’s a scene in the film with an animal which kept me awake at night worrying about whether it was going to work. I was very tense on set when we shot the scene as we were running out of film stock and only had the animal for a set amount of time. But we managed to get it in the can.
"I’ve made quite a few short films now - which has been an excellent way to develop my skills as a director."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I was a big reader when I was young so I was really into stories. I was also lucky to live in Edinburgh where there are great independent cinemas - so I saw lots of interesting films growing up. But first of all, I really wanted to be a photographer and studied photography and film at university. I became passionate about directing films in my last year of university when I realised I loved working with actors and directing the camera.
What was the first film you saw that inspired you to get into filmmaking?
That’s a really hard one to answer as there have been a lot of really formative films for me. There is an incredible short film Gasman by Lynne Ramsay which blew my mind when I saw it when I was at university. It’s so beautiful and takes you inside this formative moment for a young girl in such an intense and moving way. It also seemed like a great synthesis between cinematography which reminded me of stills photography and really naturalistic and spontaneous child performances. It got me really excited about making films.
How much has your approach to filmmaking changed since your debut film?
A lot. I’ve made quite a few short films now - which has been an excellent way to develop my skills as a director. I have a much clearer sense of visual language and I’m very focussed on directing actors in my own specific way - trying to create spontaneous moments on set. I’ve also become much better at managing all the decisions that flood my way as a director - and learning to trust my instinct and dig my heels in when necessary!
What five words best describe your Diagnosis?
Surprising, psychological, subjective, performance, improvisation.
Do you have any advice for any up and coming directors?
I would consume lots of different stories and imagery - whether that be films, photography, art, radio, media. And try and push your own boundaries - try to look at stuff from different countries and eras. There are so many incredible films that are criminally under seen and can be a great influence on your work.
I would use the time when you are younger to try and tell stories that excite you - not that you think other people would like. I would focus on an actor’s performance above everything. When you’re directing an actor think to yourself - ‘is this how people talk in real life?’. If it isn't then doing another take! I would also try and find other filmmakers to collaborate with who really get what you are trying to do and support it - and stick with them.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
I hope people will think about the different identities we perform in our day to day lives and how we should not be scared to break out of them sometimes.