Laura Marcus
Massive F*cking Bender

The Massive F*cking Bender screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player

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When a letter arrives in the post explaining that GIRL has been rejected from the university of her dreams, GIRL realises that her years of relentless work and sacrifices were all for nothing. Now faced with the reality of having to go to her reluctant second choice university, an urgent reinvention is required in order to have any chance of surviving three years at one of the party capitals of the UK.

Hi Laura thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

I’ve been well thank you! I spent pretty much all of January sitting like a hermit crab in my room, so I’m using February to try and turn myself back into a functioning human being. It’s going well!. 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?

Definitely yes. I can only speak for myself, but it’s helped me to make space in my life for being creative, rather than just scribbling down terrible Notes Page slam poetry on the tube home. This is also my first year out of education so it’s been nice to be able to make work that wasn’t to fit a limited criteria, I’m starting to do things my way which is refreshing. 

Congratulations on having The Massive F*cking Bender selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of Finding My Crew section?

Thank you, yes I’m ecstatic It’s also extremely sweet  to be in the Finding My Crew section as my real life partner in crime Ismay Bickerton has her animated short Girls Night in the same category. What’s more she has a short cameo in TMFB and I play a voice in her film. Small world. 

Can you tell me a little bit about The Massive F*cking Bender, how did this film come about?

Having never had a drop of drink in her eighteen years of life, GIRL decides it is high time for a practice run into the world of drunken raucousness. With her mother away for the weekend, GIRL prepares for The Massive F*cking Bender in the hope of making a good impression at her new University starting in September. 

The film was originally made for the Indoors Project which was an online film festival for DIY short films made during the first nationwide lockdown back in March 2020. Initially all I really wanted to do was make something that would make people feel a bit of joy during a time that was pretty bleak and scary. I’m terrible at maths and spelling but I know how to make a tit out of myself for other people’s amusement. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?

Gosh where to begin. I mean making any film from the confines of my bedroom during a pandemic is always going to be challenging, but was also part of the fun really. It sometimes felt like Takeshi’s Kingdom or Raven only with duct tape and bed sheets. I’d be running round the house like a nutter to try and gather up every desk lamp and coloured plastic folder I could find; then wrestle with my non-existent autofocus; then spend my evenings releasing my Premier had expired so googling “how to make iMovie look not like iMovie”. There was a great day where I nearly burnt the house down with a flaming post-it-note, whereafter I enlisted the help of my little brother Charlie as a Production Assistant. 

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this project?

I was learning a lot throughout making the film so the second half of it looks a lot sexier than the first half. The perfectionist in me would go back and reshoot the whole first half of it, or to be honest reshoot the whole thing with real equipment and a budget more than £8.99, but then I think it would take away from the shabby chic of the film. 

What was the biggest lesson you’ve taken away from making The Massive F*cking Bender?

If a shot is in focus, just shoot it. You can bin it later if you don’t like it. Just do it my God.

Describe your film in three words?

(a) Massive F*cking Bender 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

Filmmaking sort of falls perfectly at the intersection between a f*ckfest of all of my passions. I grew up as a theatre kid and have trained as an actor, but I have always had a love of writing and photography. In Uni my Dad lent me his Canon 550D which I would use to go around creating silly short trailers to advertise productions. After three years of not giving the camera back, I think my Dad stopped asking questions and I was able to develop my understanding through trial and error. Mostly error. 

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been give?

Take up space. 

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Obviously the answer to that question is yes. I firmly believe that people should scream their stories from the rooftop, and not feel held back by feeling it doesn’t have a place or that it won’t be heard. I think it is also the duty of institutions and audiences to support work that does push boundaries, especially stories that come from underrepresented communities. The phrase “everyone’s got a phone now, so anyone can make a film” I kind of hate, because making a film on a Samsung is not the same as making a film on some sexy ass BlackMagic, so for me it is as much down to those at the top of the food chain providing access for these stories to be told, as it is down to the storyteller to tell it. 

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Don’t worry too much about what other people think, make whatever you want to make and trust your creative instinct. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Massive F*cking Bender?

I think TMFB is an unintentional allegory to loving yourself really. As much as I want people to laugh at it, I really hope people come away seeing a character who in reality, just needs a bit of self-assurance and a big hug, which is something I think many of us need at the moment. So put down your Huel, your Strava App, your Harry Styles Calm podcast and indulge in my chaotic eye orgie in the knowledge that you GOT this. Also anyone working at channel 4 or BBC three, maybe you could take away the desire to turn this into a series.

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