From 10th - 12th March, our fabulous writer Sophie Steele had the opportunity to represent rrramble at Glasgow Film Festival 2023! You can read all about Sophie's time at the Festival from our rrramble visits Glasgow Film Fest post.
Stick around to hear about Sophie's interview with Joelle Farrow, lead actress in new Canadian slasher film Here For Blood.
Over to you, Sophie!
Important info: I had never interviewed a filmmaker before this interview, and genuinely, I was nervous. I’d encountered many filmmakers during my degree but never formally interviewed them, so to be interviewing a filmmaker who’s feature film is featuring in the programme for Glasgow Film Festival… you can imagine how I felt!
Despite my nerves, Marie Alice very quickly put me at ease. She was lovely, easy to talk to, and provided some fascinating conversation topics and answers to any questions I had. As my niche is horror films, I decided to focus on the horror aspects of her catalogue, specifically her latest feature Mother Superior.
Marie Alice began by explaining her previous experience in documentaries and how that influences her current work. This experience shines through in the historical aspects of Mother Superior, adding an authenticity to the storyline which in turn amplifies the sinister vibe. She shared her interest in imagination within the genre, and how the human imagination is a powerful creative tool which can be used, especially in horror to create the kinds of terrifying images we see in Mother Superior - I loved this aspect of the film, and gushed about how captivating the imagery is. I was particularly interested to know what had inspired her imagery for the film, and she informed me that she finds symbolism a key tool in expressing relevant details to the storyline. She went on to state that ‘the 60s and 70s…somehow this era, the colour, the framing, that’s kind of a little more my visual style’ and how she doesn't see it to be an intentional thing, she just happens to shoot that way and produces this final product that fits perfectly into that sort of era.
I wondered if Mother Superior was always to be set in 1975, or whether that was a change which occurred during development, and she responded with an interesting point to make about period films. She stated (through laughs) how she is ‘definitely drawn to period films…it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s a little bit easier to create a world that is familiar but not ours, so I think period films kind of do that.’ What Marie Alice identifies here is an important plot device in every genre, which works especially well in horror films, enabling filmmakers to bring a sense of not-too-familiarity. She further explained how she thinks 'it’s really boring to write films where there is like mobile phones and computers around’ and said it was sort of ‘unsexy’ to see all these devices on screen. Honestly, I completely agreed with her. Sometimes technology absolutely has its space in cinema, but there is something even more terrifying about the lack of that form of communication that creates a different kind of fear for the viewer. She rounded off her point by stating how she had an interest in this particular aspect of Nazi history explored within the film, and worked mathematically from the 1940s based on how old she imagined her protagonist would be, which landed her in the 70s.
She explained how the overall message of the film was that ‘it’s kind of about how sometimes very appealing ideas that we consider as right and something we support and fight for, can potentially walk hand in hand with something appalling…something shocking.’ This shed a lot of light on the film for me, and it was as if it all clicked into place. She further went on to define herself as a feminist, and state that she was not intending to attack anyone but merely highlight this possibility. I thought it was a unique and pertinent comment for Marie Alice to make, highlighting how people can be easily led - and not always with the best intentions.
I finished the interview by asking her the all important question of how does she find it being a woman working in the film industry, and particularly in relation to the horror genre. She was forthcoming, and gave a really candid response saying how she ‘just wants to be funded or support because of the quality of the script.’ Marie Alice went on to say ‘with all this gender stuff, I get it, we need to talk about it because unfortunately there wasn’t enough talking about it for a long time. I just wish we had already reached this point where it doesn’t matter.’ This is a statement I’m sure most women in the industry (at any level) can agree with, where they just want to be supported for their work, and not just to tick a diversity and inclusivity quota.
It was a pleasure to chat to Marie Alice, and I'm grateful that she made it such a fantastic experience for my first formal interview. If you get a chance, give Mother Superior a watch for some really compelling imagery, and a storyline to match.
To catch all things Glasgow Film Festival, head to the rrramble visits Glasgow Film Festival post, or click the 'Glasgow Film Festival' tag below.