Electra Talent Watch: Winners of Bumble's Female Film Force - are they the future?
Getting a foothold on the ladder is the hardest step for any aspiring director –and lack of opportunity for women is consistently the explanation for the abysmal ratio of working male to female directors.
So – enter the Female Film Force, set up by social and dating app Bumble. After a nationwide competition, Bumble has granted five all- female filmmaking teams £20,000 each to make the short film of their choice. And Electra met a couple of the winning directors to see what the future face of filmmaking could look like.
EMMA MOFFAT – A BATTLE IN WATERLOO
Emma Moffat has always been a history lover, which she describes as a “joy.” She studied it at university. So it’s not a surprise that she has written, and will now direct a short called “A Battle in Waterloo,” working alongside her producers, Tilly Coulson and Anna Hargreaves.
After learning that her husband, a British soldier, is missing in action at Waterloo, Ellen leaves camp and desperately searches the forest next to the battlefield, entering the centre of one of the most violent battles of the 19th century.
"I was shocked to find that the premise was real, that women did fight in this period and in other periods in history."
“I wrote it as I am interested in military history and women’s history,” Emma explains. “ I have always been interested about what women did during wars. There aren’t many films about women fighting. So I wrote a fictional film set around the battle of Waterloo which is a vast battle, and when I did more research I was shocked to find that the premise was real, that women did fight in this period and in other periods in history. I was quite sad I didn’t know about it as it hasn’t really been taught. Of course a lot of women were present to treat the wounded, or as camp followers, but some did fight.
“We rely on our impressions of the past to be filled in by TV and film and we don’t think of women having anything to do with war.”
Many women had to pretend to be male in order to survive, and that pretence was also more common than we realise, Emma says (it’s a later period but think of Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs.)
“In some European countries women were discovered dressed as soldiers, and were allowed to carry on fighting. Women probably did it for many different reasons. Quite often women wanted to do a particular job, not just in the military, and so dressed up as men. In civilian life, if two women were in a relationship with each other, it was quite common for one to dress as man and then they would be left alone.”
Think of a military film and you think expensive – so how far will 20 thousand pounds go? “The story we are telling is on the periphery of the battlefield, in a wooded area, with a handful of characters, so I think we will be fine,” she explains. “This money is really going to make all the difference to us – a historical film is an ambitious one to get funding for so when we found out Bumble had picked us, were just ecstatic.”
" I would love to work with Ridley Scott in future, or Patti Jenkins. I think what she is doing for women working in action films is amazing. She is really paving the way and it is high time more women were aspiring to be there.”
However, Emma Moffat has ambitions to make a fully-fledged historical feature one day, and her dream would be to follow in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott and make big-budget military set pieces. Having started out as a runner on Inception, she gained experience in visual effects and then recently assisted Christopher McQuarrie on Mission Impossible –Fallout “and have learned so much from them about making an action film.
“I look up to those two directors so much. They are just so inspiring to be around and I think Christopher McQuarrie is one of the storytelling geniuses of the world. And I would love to work with Ridley Scott in future, or Patti Jenkins. I think what she is doing for women working in action films is amazing. She is really paving the way and it is high time more women were aspiring to be there.”
GEORGIE YUKIKO DONOVAN – AMA DIVERS
The Japanese ‘women of the sea.’ It’s a fair bet you might never have heard of the Ama Divers, but this group of women have free-dived for three thousand years, in a tradition passed from mother to daughter.
Georgie, working alongside producer Yoko Ishitani, is going to shine a spotlight on these women and their way of life, which is under threat.
"Basically, modern life has crept into the community and it is a hard way of life to take on. It’s very physical and gruelling, and a lot of young women are now choosing to make their living in the city."
As both Japanese and British, she says she is passionate about showing less stereotypical facets of Japanese culture to a western audience. The founder of her own company, Geeks in Motion, she now specialises in art and observational documentary and first met the Ama Divers just over a year ago.
“I met them and loved them and wanted them to be included in the documentary I was working on at the time,” she says. “Their section got cut but in a way that was lucky for me, because I stayed in touch with them and I really feel their story should be told.”
Georgie can now literally immerse herself into the Ama way of life, filming underwater with the divers, who she says are “a real anomaly in a patriarchal society like Japan, especially as the tradition is passed through the female line.
“They have been doing this for thousands of years and now their way of life is threatened to there’s never been a better time to make this doc. Basically, modern life has crept into the community and it is a hard way of life to take on. It’s very physical and gruelling, and a lot of young women are now choosing to make their living in the city.
“Add on climate change, and rising sea temperatures affecting sea life, their ability to make a living is being challenged. They practice sustainable fishing and work in harmony with the sea, but it is getting harder and harder for them to make an income.”
Georgie laughs when asked if this is inevitably got to be a prelude to a full feature length documentary.
“It is going to be really hard to make a short,” she admits. “It is the biggest challenge as there is so much I could say.
“This is just a great chance for all of us to show what we can do though in terms of telling stories. Hopefully it will give me a platform to delve into the story more.”
Bumble, featuring Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF, is free and available from the App Store and Google Play.