Filmmaker Q&A Catherine Fordham
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
First off I just need to express how much I enjoyed Consommé! You managed to say a lot within a short span of time; something that could've easily been drawn out to a feature length - Where did the idea for the film come from?
The epidemic of violence against women is real, awful, unending, and enraging. Nearing 1 in 5 women are raped, or victims of an attempt. I’m angry about that. This film is an expression of that anger.
The original idea came when a girlfriend of mine was angry at an ex-boyfriend and about to walk home late at night. Another friend said, “be careful getting home.” I saw a flash of fire cross her eyes, almost like, “TRY to mess with me tonight, when I have this fire burning!” I wanted to make a film that wasn’t about a superhero, or a physically powerful woman, but just an ordinary woman with a fire inside her. What strength is possible if we can tap into that power? What fierceness is there when we fight for our lives as if we deserved it? as if we were fighting for our child’s lives.
In some way this film was also a fantasy... What is an “appropriate” response to sexual violence?
What part of filming was the most fun and/or challenging for you and why?
The most challenging part was shooting the assault scene. The location was a legitimately a very rough, dirty, sketchy, abandoned lot with broken glass, falling parts, dirty, unseen elements. It was the middle of the night, and we were running out of time! I was so worried about someone getting hurt. But we did it, and then the sun rose!
The best part of filming is always the people. Monica West is an incredible actress; she listens and takes in every note or adjustment with all of her being and makes subtle adjustments that show she’s got real craft. It was like getting to be a guest conductor with a pro orchestra. Lance Kaplan is the same DP I’ve worked with on a few project, Erin Nelson (co-producer) and I have now worked on 4 projects together and she’s a badass Texan and Minos Papas is another co-producer and editor and mentor.
What are some of your favorite films, why are they your favorites and which ones have influenced you the most?
I always have a hard time with “favorite” questions. When I was a kid I used to say my favorite color was rainbow. But I can talk about the films that influenced Consommé, and are influencing me now, as I work on my feature script.
Let the Right One In is huge for me stylistically. I love the aesthetic, the pared down story and I directly took the way Kali bites the face of her attacker in Consommé from the way the young vampire attaches on to her victims throats in that film. With a little bit of Silence of the Lambs thrown in….
Girlhood and Winters Bone are two recent films I love. They both portray young women in a way we don’t get to see very much on screen. Both really beautiful stories and so well told and acted.
Old Boy (Korean version) is a big influence for my current work. The totally overwhelming need for revenge. The element of immersive style. The eating of the live squid.
Bieutiful, the scene with the ghosts in the factory changed me forever.
The Women in the Dunes (Japan) for its sense of place, the sand, the details of their time in the house. Oh man I loved that movie.
Always Run Lola Run (for the running)
What would you like people will take away from your work as writer/filmmaker?
I want people to feel catharsis and some delicious satisfaction from maybe seeing someone do the taboo things we would never really do. I like putting our emotions and fantasies to images and music and sound. I’d love it if people felt immersed, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 90, in a world that feels radical and fresh somehow.
With a steady rise in more women stepping behind the camera, can you give us your thoughts on the importance of feminism and film and what your hopes are for the future of cinema?
Stories form our culture and our culture is lopsided, strange and hostile because our stories have been told by one group of people forEVER.
I did a year of university when I was 17 where we read only white men and I didn’t even notice, because that was so the norm. So it’s not just women but people of color and from the LGBTQ community and from different cultural backgrounds—we need all those voices so seriously bad right now.
I look back at my teenage years as a girl in the 90's and I didn’t even know how much I was craving voices that I could relate to. Films where women were not existing in relation to whether they were sexy or not sexy, or needing to be saved, or just having really boring jobs supporting men who got to do all the cool shit. I think it would have influenced my trajectory a lot if I’d have seen more of that.
There have been women behind the camera for a long time, we’re not knew. But there’s a long long long way to go before we blow open the industry and there’s a real collage of talented humanity telling stories that people actually see.
Having said all that, there’s movement! I’m part of a very cool group of women directors called Cinefemme.There’s so many exciting things happening in the world of story.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you may be working on for the near future?
I’m working on writing and developing a somewhat surreal thriller/horror feature film, Wild Cry Ha, that takes place in the world of child sex trafficking at truck stops and motels, but also tells the story of a young woman’s anger, fear, and rise through the ashes after a traumatic event.
I also directed a web series, Best Thing You’ll Ever Do, created by and starring Monica West, from Consommé. It’s not horror in the slightest bit and it was really fun to try a totally different style. We shot four episodes in 2016 and we’re seeking partners for further development of the show!