"I LOVE STORYTELLING. ALWAYS HAVE. IMAGINING THE WORLD AS IT MIGHT BE, AS YOU WISH IT WAS, AS YOU'RE GLAD IT ISN'T, OR A IT COULD NEVER BE. IMAGINATION IS SUCH A GIFT!"
Breakfast For Tea
Screening Session: Block 3
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
What's not to love about being woken before dawn by your neighbour's power saw? A story about busy neighbours, early birds and worms.
Scripted, shot and edited in 24 hours during social lockdown.
Hi Jennifer thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?
It is a very unfamiliar state of affairs, isn’t it? Living in a city that was in hard lockdown for months, after already being isolated because our industry shut down, turned 2020 into a bit of a time vortex.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
I’ve managed to find ways to create, but have also tried to be kind when I couldn’t do much at all. The months of isolation have produced some interesting things, like my starting to create bookshelf dioramas out of things I found around the house. So far there’s a Georgian(ish) conservatory, an enchanted forest with three wise owls, and a secret attic reading room. Escaping into the bookshelf never looked so literal!
Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?
It’s really exciting to see colleagues still managing to create and tell stories in such fraught times. It really is art and storytelling that keeps us connected and helps us make sense of the world, so I’m really grateful to be able to experience art from all over the world.
Can you tell me a little bit about Breakfast For Tea how did this film come about?
About a month into social distancing requirements were brought in, I decided to challenge myself by creating a 24 hour film with only my tablet. One of my neighbours had been using their isolation to do some building work, one had a pair of very frustrated children and one was having regular barbecues with groups of people. I started thinking about how I knew more about their daily lives than I’d ever known when we were able to chat in the street, and about how we could affect each other’s days so profoundly when there was no option to get out and get away.
I’ve always loved stories where the characters do things you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to do, so the idea of a middle-aged woman being woken up by a neighbour’s power saw and taking the action she takes in Breakfast Tea kind of tickled me. I wanted to make something equally wholesome and unthinkable, that might give the audience a chuckle.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?
Well, the single biggest was that I had to work alone! So setting up a shot, rolling the camera, then getting in to do the scene was a fun new experience. There was one bit of prop creation that got a bit tricky, but I won’t go into detail as it’s a bit of a spoiler.
"The first time you do something is often a bit of a mess, but if you don’t try the first, fourteenth and twentieth time, you never get to try the twenty-third time..."
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
Oh, sure! I think there’s always things you’d do differently if you did it again. On any project. But the film, as it is, reflects the moment in which it was made. And that’s kind of what film does best. I have ideas for Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea and Sleepy Tea, and if I ever get to them, I’m sure they’ll take different forms as well.
Describe your film in three words?
Fixing neighbourhood problems.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
I love storytelling. Always have. Imagining the world as it might be, as you wish it was, as you’re glad it isn’t, or as it could never be. Imagination is such a gift!
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?
Done is better than perfect.
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
I think pushing boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries is not helpful. Pushing through a boundary that stops you telling the story you need to tell is sometimes essential, and that’s a thing I can get behind.
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Done is better than perfect!
Seriously, we can get so hung up on “getting it right” that we never share our work with anyone. The first time you do something is often a bit of a mess, but if you don’t try the first, fourteenth and twentieth time, you never get to try the twenty-third time, and that might be the time that really makes your heart sing.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Breakfast For Tea?
I hope it gives them a chuckle, most of all. And I guess I also hope it reminds people that we’re all in lockdown together, and that taking care of each other is better than “taking care of each other".