Creating The Future We Want 2022
FAREWELL SHE GOES
Tue, 1 February, 2022
19:00 – 22:30 (GMT)
creating the future we want: tickets
A celebration of female-led stories brought to life by up and coming production companies | created & run by independent female producers
A period drama short film surrounding two young women who sneak away from their strict stately home existence to lay their pet canary to rest.
Hey Sophie thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these very strange times?
Thank you! Not so bad thanks. I moved out of London last spring so it’s a little easier enduring all the strange things going on when a bit more naturally isolated in the countryside!
Has this time at least offered you any new and creative opportunities?
It’s been creative in a few ways… We shot FAREWELL SHE GOES during the first lockdown, so that was fruitful, and then during the second lockdown as we edited the film I grew a baby, so that was also pretty creative in a way! My son is now 6 months old and I’m gradually finding more time to work on lots of exciting new creative opportunities, amidst many hours spent throwing a ball between the baby and the dog to keep them both entertained…
Congratulations on Farewell She Goes Premiere screening at the Creating The Future We Want event, how does it feel to have your film part of such an incredible initiative?
Thanks! I’m constant in awe of Cat and everything she’s making happen, her role in this event being just one example of that. I think it’s so vital that we all support each other and that’s the only way we’ll create more opportunities for marginalised groups - there’s not only one job, there’s so much potential work out there and we must give each other a leg up to help everyone get there. This event is a perfect example of that.
Can you tell me a little bit about Farewell She Goes, how did this film come about?
Cat and Isabella approached me after having seen my NFTS graduation film UNEATABLE. They were really keen that the story they wanted to tell was seen through a female lens, and after our first meeting we all just clicked and it felt like a really perfect fit. I wanted to approach the film in a more contemporary way than we’ve perhaps seen with period dramas before, with a handheld camera and very naturalistic performances, which I think resonated with Cat and Isabella too.
What was it about BAFTA Rocliffe Winner Claire Tailyour’s script that interested you as a director?
I liked the nuance of the script. It never spelt out exactly what was happening - there was a subtly to it that I felt was really elegant and fitting. I also appreciated that it didn’t try to DO too much. Sometimes shorts try and cram in so much story (I’ve been victim to this before myself!), but the simplicity of this vignette is a big part of what makes the script work.
When working on a film like Farewell She Goes how close do you like to keep to the screenplay, do you allow yourself / your actors much flexibility with it?
Absolutely, flexibility is so important. It’s that old-adage of the film being rewritten three times (the script, the shoot, the edit). You can’t be tied to the words on the page; they aren’t gospel. You have to see how the words feel for the actors on set - there’s no point spending hours labouring over a line that just doesn’t quite fit when you could just alter it slightly and everyone’s more comfortable. If the actor doesn’t find the line working for them it probably wont work for the audience either. Then in the edit I love listening to the editor, someone often totally fresh to your project, and hearing their views as the first audience member. Does it all make sense? Is any of it unnecessary or too flowery or forced? Then you end up at the best film overall - I hope!
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
We had quite a lot of logistics to deal with in terms of shooting on location with natural light and on a beach. We had to shoot a couple of scenes twice because of continuity of sunlight/weather, and then sometimes we were rushed because the tide was coming in, which is a deadline you can’t negotiate with! But overall it was a really calm shoot, everyone was on their A game and we were all just so thankful to be shooting after many months of shut down by that point.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Always. My initial love was the theatre, because youth theatre was the way you could get involved in creating stories collaboratively in the small town where I grew up. But as long as I can remember I was also making terrible home movie ‘shorts’ and forcing friends or family to be in them. For a while I thought I wanted to act myself, attending the National Youth Theatre and auditioning for drama schools and the like, but it became clear by the time I left home that it was the directing that was the best fit (for many reasons, but for one I’m awful at handling rejection and actors have to endure that pretty much weekly!). I do like to think though that having an actor’s mindset for even just those few formative years helps my directing in that I understand what the cast are going through and do all I can to create the best environment for them to thrive on set.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?
I’m increasingly trying to push myself to be bolder in my execution and to not settle for things that aren’t quite right. At first I felt so lucky to be there with all those cast and crew there to help make the film in my head come to life that I was probably too passive in agreeing to everything. Now I always try to be amenable - I’ve spent many years as a commercials producer and very much understand that not everything is possible always and there will always be last minute compromises - but I do push myself to say if something that’s fixable isn’t quite right and to make it happen.
You had a great response to your short films The Trip & Uneatable, did this type of reaction to your film help open more doors and opportunities for you?
Thank you. I suppose as a filmmaker you’re always striving to do better next time, and once my films are complete I find it hard having to watch them again - I just see mistakes or things that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. But undoubtedly any success a short has will help open doors for the future, and as long as each short is doing slightly better than the last that’s all you can hope for! And that doesn’t always mean festivals by the way. Some shorts I do are targeted at festival success, others online attention, or a proof of concept for something longer form and so on. It can be hard to predict too. My general ethos is to just keep making them and hope each time that I get the chance again!
As well as being a BFI Network x BAFTA Crew alum you are also a graduate of the NFTS Diverse Director Workshop, what have been the most valuable lessons you have taken away from these experiences?
The people. Undeniably. You can sit through hours of advice or education and that certainly helps, but it’s really meeting the future collaborators who will become your lifelong friends that counts.
"I don’t believe anyone is inherently bad and I do think we’re all fundamentally after the same things in life."
This Creating The Future We Want event is also going to support The One Page Project, what more can be done to offer greater support for filmmakers who come come from underrepresented backgrounds?
We have to give them jobs! Too often I’ve heard ‘we tried to find a *insert underrepresented category* *insert crew role* but we couldn’t’ and then you just move on with the same people as always. If you don’t give people the opportunities then they wont improve and get up to the standard you want them to be at. This doesn’t mean putting under-qualified people in major roles where it doesn’t make sense, but thinking inventively about how you can incorporate that talent in your production. Could they work alongside the HOD, could they shadow them in some way and take on some of the tasks? Then by the time you come to your next production, that person may be ready to take on a more senior role. It has to come from the top down - the productions I’ve been on with representative HODs always have a more diverse cast and crew too.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
It’s not a specific piece of advice, but I will be spending my entire life trying to create a production atmosphere that comes anywhere close to the THE LORD OF THE RINGS… I spent literal years gobbling up hours of DVD extras of how these movies were made, and it’s always proved to me how hard working kind people with a sense of humour can make something truly special together.
Oh and ‘not every piece of work you make needs to go on your website’. That’s a good one…
As a filmmaker what advice would you offer someone thinking about making their own debut film?
Just make it! If it turns out great, it’ll open doors. If not, just don’t show people and make another one! You won’t get better by sitting around doing nothing. The only way to improve is to keep creating.
And finally what do you hope people will take away from your Farewell She Goes?
There’s a favourite quote of mine that cinema is a ‘machine for empathy’, and that’s what I try and achieve with all my films. To make people consider the lives, choices and feelings of others. I hope to do that here. I don’t believe anyone is inherently bad and I do think we’re all fundamentally after the same things in life. Whatever your stance on the topics in our film, I want to at least provoke the audience to feel for these women and their circumstances.