Lu Arie 
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Nominations: Best Screenplay
Screening Session: Feb 28 | Nominated Films
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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In a dystopia where the UK is deaf, a Spanish girl tries to fit in by using the latest popular gadget - real-life subtitles.


Hi Lu, thank you for talking to TNC. How are you holding up during these very strange times?


The past year has definitely been the strangest period of my short life so far. Everything feels both overwhelming and paused, as I’m sure I won’t be the first to say. I’ve used some of the extra time to write short stories and plan short films, as well as catching up on some much-needed Netflix binges (for research and education, I tell myself)


Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?


Absolutely. In my school film class we are currently planning our coursework short films, and thanks to the limitations on where and what we can film I think time in lockdown has forced us to think outside the box. I’ve found I can come up with plots in response to the question, Where would I rather be right now? And just enjoy that time writing it away from my own bedroom for a while.


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 an honour to see my first short film showcased by a festival like PRFF alongside such talented and experienced filmmakers - I’m very grateful for the opportunity! And excited for people to see the film my friends and I had the best time making.

Can you tell me a little bit about your film - how did this film come about?


The plot came from an inside joke between my producer Roualeyn and I when we realised having real-life subtitles would prevent a lot of the absurd mishearings between us. Then we started to think about what the concept would mean for personal relationships and privacy if such a thing could exist: along the lines of, Would people have to alter what they said if their words could be read by anyone from far away?


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


Definitely the subtitles’ special effects. This film would not have come together without our crew’s editor and visual effects artist Daniel - he brought our subtitles and vision to life more beautifully than we could have imagined. Another aspect which turned out to be a challenge was creating props: in the weeks leading up to the shoot I collected a bunch of already broken earphones from friends and cut the strings to make ‘wireless’ headphones for our actors.

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


We would have loved to shoot a few more scenes playing around with the idea of real-life subtitles in daily life, but since we are all under 18 and only had so many days of October half term to film, we had to prioritise the most crucial ones of the story and put all our creative efforts into those.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


For me it came from a childhood love of writing and fictional universes. When I was old enough to be trusted with a camera in school art lessons it made me want to explore filmmaking, and I realised I’d loved the idea ever since watching Stranger Things, Love Simon and Booksmart years before. I know two of my friends on the crew would attest to the Harry Potter films as their first inspirations, and musical theatre for a couple others.


What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given? Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


‘It doesn’t matter what happens, it matters why what happens matters to your characters’ - a piece of advice from writer Abbie Emmons

"Reach out to some local filmmakers, or talent in your area just to connect with them."

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


100%. Film is a continuously evolving art in terms of both subject matter and form. I’m always excited to see writers not shying away from difficult or out-there topics, especially when it comes from a place of personal experience. I love that there doesn’t have to be a set form, and the fact that with a non-linear or even interactive narrative (take the film Bandersnatch, for example) every audience member goes away with varying interpretations of the story.


And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?


The main message of our film is that, for all its convenience, technology risks accelerating social inequality. Hopefully our film makes its audience aware of the point where innovation may undo our progress instead of furthering it. In our dystopia where technology facilitates all face to face communication, we used practicing sign language as a visual reminder of the human connection lost beyond this point. But most importantly, we want people to take away that it’s alright to stay true to yourself and your instincts even if it seems no one else in the world sees eye to eye with you.

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