Directed by Sara Dunlop –
17 year old Pixie and her friends have spent the last few months delving into a strange new world of experimentation. When unfamiliar Blondie arrives at the dying end of the summer, the gang’s routine is set to change as Pixie begins to struggle with unexpected feelings.
GFM: Please introduce your film to our readers and can you comment on the challenge of teenagers facing sex and drugs today?
Sara: I suppose it’s a coming of age story, a haunting kind of love story about disaffectedyouth. I realised that teenagers are exposed to sex and drugs so much more than when I was a teenager and I wanted to know what effect this has had on them – with Internet porn, social media, and everyone knowing what everyone’s doing all the time. So that’s how I came up with the idea of what happens in the film, which is kind of taking sexual behaviour to an extreme.
GFM: You have an interesting ensemble cast. It must have been great working with these young actors. Please will you talk about your casting process and working with the kids.
Sara: Three of them had never acted so that was interesting. One of them had done a little bit. But I quite liked the idea of working with kind of un-technical actors. I felt that they would understand the roles well and that they would play with them more than if they had experience. This meant we also rehearsed more and I got to spend time with them before we actually shot, which I think really helped the process as we got to bond with each other as well.
GFM: The film is really beautifully shot. Have you worked with your cinematographer Antonio Palladino before?
Sara: I come from a background of working in music videos and commercials, so I’d worked with Antonio for quite a few years actually. We know each other really well and had similar aesthetics and knew what we wanted to do with this film. I mean one of the challenging scenes for Antonio was the car park scene, obviously, getting that to look the way I wanted it to and also being shot on the shortest night of the year made it kind of difficult as well. I think it’s about taste, really, and we’ve got very similar taste, which helps when you’re working on something with a low budget.
GFM: What was your production schedule like?
Sara: There was about a three week pre-production period, a four-day shoot and then the post. The sound seemed to go on forever because of getting favours and getting into sound dubs and stuff.
GFM: What’s it like balancing the world of commercial directing and film directing?
Sara: I’ve always really loved films and I’ve always wanted to work in film. Commercials have been amazing for me because they’ve helped me learn so much about the technical side of filmmaking and allowed me to be on set a lot, which I think has helped me feel comfortable. So some of the things that I think would have made me feel nervous when making a short film were not an issue. I could concentrate on the things that made me feel nervous like the performances and getting the storytelling right.
GFM: Apparently you’re shooting this weekend. Can you tell us what you’re working on?
Sara: I just shot a series of three films for Conde Naste content, GQ in particular, for Mr. Burberry. It’s a project working with scripted dialogue and I’m working with some really interesting actresses like Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones and Juno Temple. So that’s what i’m doing – just simple two minute, tableau films with them.
GFM: What does being in competition for the Palme d’Or mean for you?
Sara: I just can’t believe it – it’s beyond my wildest dreams. Cannes is my favorite festival and I love the long form feature films that are in competition every year, so just to be a part of it is really just amazing to me.
GFM: Please tell us about your previous film Where Is Your Line?
Sara: Where Is Your Line? is about one girl’s night out and how it escalates in a way that I don’t think she wants it to. It was commissioned by a rape crisis center and based on some stats which were quite shocking about where guys were drawing the line as to when it’s appropriate to instigate sex or not. I came up with this idea to make a film that kind of crossed loads of lines and it was interactive online originally and you could click when you felt a line had been crossed. If you watched it all the way to the end it would mean you would see how far it goes when you actually watch the film. That’s what it was actually investigating.
GFM: What is your other film High about?
Sara: High was for a friend of mine who is a shoe designer and gave me a brief to do something for his brand, which was kind of dark and sexy, and he wanted me to make a provocative film for him. I love the vampire genre, so it’s somewhat of an abstract homage to that, mixed with a bit of Nick Rogue.
director Sara Dunlop