Verge Interviews: Louisa Fielden

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching and reviewing a short film entitled People You May Know, which you can find on this site. I also had the opportunity to ask the director of this short some questions about her work.

Verge: How did you originally come up with the concept of this short film?

Lousia: I developed the script over 6 months. I’d seen the TED talk with Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, which tackled sexual violence from an interesting angle and went viral. I wanted to produce a drama that vivisected modern sexual politics, something that could hang off high impact performances, and felt like a two-person play or a capsule episode of television.

V: What do you feel is the purpose of this short film?

L: I think short films are a great way to experiment with ideas, and that’s what I did with People You May Know. Hopefully the film promotes the amazing talents of the actors and crew, and the versatility of my skills as a storyteller, but its main purpose is to entertain its audience and to be a conservation starter for an important topic.

V: Do you feel this film is commenting on the digital age we live in and the way we use of technology?

L: Yes, social media and digital technology is so much at the forefront of my daily life that it provides a constant invitation for me to respond to it as a filmmaker.

V: How do you feel about technology/social media in today’s society? Do you feel it is effecting peoples lives way more than they realise?

L: I don’t think I’m qualified to provide a rigorous analysis on the moral psychology of social media, but yes, probably. It reshapes how people initiate and maintain almost every type of significant social bond they have, and I’m fascinated by those implications.

V: I believe this film has great potential to be used for educational purposes, what are you thoughts on this?

L: It wasn’t made with that direct purpose, but many people have suggested that. I’m certainly open to that possibility.

V: What do you hope peoples response to this film will be?

L: I hope it sparks an important conversation, of course. But the film is a drama first and foremost. Its production was a delicate balancing act in that regard – throughout the writing, shooting and editing. It has an opinion, but it’s not a piece of propaganda. And I’m very conscious of that.

V: How did you or did you have to prepare your actors for this? As this is a very serious and heated topic that must require really strong performances.

L: Aiysha (Aiysha Hart) and Joe (Joseph Timms) are both very professional, and are well prepared when they turn up on set. It was a two day shoot, but they recited 28 pages of dialogue in one day, which is no mean feat. I sent Aiysha a lot of research material beforehand, including an NPR podcast of Roxane Gay discussing the trauma she experienced as a child, which we worked with a lot. I also met with the actors at the café two weeks before the shoot, neither of them knowing it was the location we were going to film in. This meeting, coupled with a day’s rehearsal, really allowed them to delve into “discovery mode,” searching for personal connections in the material, which can be important.

V: Was it easier working with actors you’ve already worked with before? As they both starred in Atlantis which you also worked on.

L: Yes. There’s a sense of trust, understanding, and a short hand when you’ve worked with any cast or crewmember before. Also when you’ve worked with an actor, you understand what their method is and how they approach their character. You can then construct your approach with that in mind, and best serve their performance.

V: What moment for you stands out in particular in this short film?  

L: There are so many moments I could cling to, but it’s probably when Emily challenges James about the topless selfie he posted to Facebook achieving 54 likes. Ostensibly it’s a moment of conflict, but Joe (James) responds with a powerfully disarming gesture; a tiny smile and a nod. Every time I see it I laugh because it’s so arrogant and human, and a great example of building a whole character in microcosm.  

V: If you could say anything you wanted to someone about why they should watch this short film, what would it be?

L: I think the film depicts a very serious issue that we need to confront. And I’d say that the performances of the actors are masterful and certainly well worth watching.

A trailer for this short can be found here –