Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021
As an embattled food writer who works from her secluded home, unwelcome calls from both her publisher and the woods beyond her property force her to test a new culinary technique that will keep her audience captive.
Hi Eddie, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?
I’m doing all right! Now that it feels like we might just be over the hump here in New York City and everything is revving back into action, the majority of the past year feels like a sort of a dissociative blur.
Has this time been offering you any new creative opportunities or inspiration?
I was able to return to watching movies like I did when I was in college, one or two a day when possible, discovering directors’ entire works and rediscovering films I hadn’t seen in a long time. Having the time to truly dive deeply into the cinema again was an exciting side effect that both distracted me from the stress of the outside world and inspired me to keep working, writing, experimenting at home.
Your previous short film Cold Storage won Best New England Short at the 2017 Provincetown International Film Festival, what did it mean to you to get such recognition for your film?
I’d spent an entire winter filming Cold Storage in Provincetown, so being able to come back in the summer to premiere at PIFF was a great privilege in and of itself. Being able to reconnect with the community that we’d met and sharing the film with them was awesome. Capping the festival off by being recognized with an award was a huge honour and I’m very grateful that the programmers and jury thought so highly of our movie. Aubrey Plaza offered me some prosciutto from a meat tray. It was a fun night.
Congratulations on having Mealworm part of this year's Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?
I’m very happy to have our film in the catalogue, hopefully, some folks will have the chance to see it. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to premiere a film on the Croisette, hopefully, this brings me one step closer to that and having something in competition in the future.
How much has your background as a film editor and music video director helped you when directing your short films?
Editing has always been a part of the process that’s felt the most authorial to me. I grew up editing as a means to finish my own films, and I still do, but that circumstantially evolved into a skill set that I could use to earn a living. Editing professionally, I’ve learned a lot about what I don’t want to do as a director, most importantly being creatively selective while on set and not relying on amassing a heap of footage and coverage to “fix” in post. Sometimes during production, I know how we can get away with losing a setup or some coverage because I know we’ve got the right material already for the edit, or how we could possibly cover it differently, with some new blood, in another setup. I also always have the rhythm and pace of a sequence in mind while I'm shooting - I'd say that is a huge piece of the puzzle that crosses over with music videos, the rhythm and musicality of a scene or sequence. In my opinion, editing should feel like its own form of writing, finding new creative solutions and discovering the story as it lives and breathes, not necessarily a technical chore where the primary task is shedding dead weight.
How did Mealworm come about and what inspired your screenplay?
I love to cook and subsequently find myself watching a lot of cooking videos and food media on YouTube. Over time I’ve grown to feel incredibly connected to some of these hosts and cooks, influencing what I cook at home, and like anything else captured on camera, this in large part due to their performance - it’s very much a persona. This got me thinking about YouTubers in general and creating something alone on your laptop that potentially reaches millions of people on the internet. Thinking about my own creative process, specifically the time I spend alone, led me towards this idea of how just the faintest whisper of negativity can spiral out of control, how one can be driven to create something that can be cynical or toxic or whatever you want to call it. So I think more than anything this film was just inspired by the creative process, about the solitude that can come with it, and how everything that surrounds you can have an effect on all that, for better or worse.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?
Plenty, but the film only exists as it does because of everything I know to have fucked up. I’m content with that and try not to dwell on any errors. What I’m thrilled to do is take the lessons I learned and the mistakes I made in order to fix ‘em all on the next one. At least I’ll try.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Always, yes. I loved Nickelodeon when I was a kid and there was this game show called Nick Arcade. The contestants were composited into looking like they were actually inside popular video games, “playing” them as if they were the hero instead of, say, Donkey Kong. I really fell hook, line, and sinker for that. My dad explained how they did that using green screen technology and I was just obsessed with the technical aspect of filmmaking from that day forward. I also watched The Shining when I was like 8 years old and I think it may have haunted me into doing this for the rest of my life.
"Be kind to your friends and crew who are very likely doing you an incredibly big favour, and be kind to yourself as well."
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
I think I’ve grown a little more methodical as opposed to completely shooting from the hip. I focused on documentary work for a period of time which certainly helped teach me how to gain a lot of production value with a small crew and few resources, so now I’m trying to apply that to narrative work with a bit more control.
Do you have any advice or tips you would offer any emerging editor or writer/director who are thinking of making their own short?
Be kind to your friends and crew who are very likely doing you an incredibly big favour, and be kind to yourself as well. Short films are a learning process - I’m definitely still learning. More than anything else, don’t overthink or talk yourself out of a short film, just go out and make it. If you think it sucks, it's still great, you made a movie and they’ll keep getting better.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Mealworm?
To be wary of ducks.