Electra Talent Watch: Bumble's Female Film Force - the sequel
Not all sequels are bigger and better (anyone still shudder at Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle?) – but Bumble’s Female Film Force Part 2 certainly is.
The social networking app is expanding its female film fund to France and Germany, having already given five female filmmaking teams in the UK and Ireland grants of £20,000 each to create their own short film. More grants of £20,000 (22,000 Euros) are up for grabs for film ideas by women producers, writers and directors.
Electra met some of FFF’s first winners a few months ago – and now here they are again, with their short films completely finished, and a London premiere where the five filmmaking teams got to meet up.
“Pre 20th century, women just don’t figure in any stories of military history, and yet we know they existed .”
Emma Moffat is writer -director of A Battle in Waterloo, the story of a woman desperately searching for her husband in the aftermath of the battle.
“The pressure was on for my team to make the film once the funding was in place, as the actual battle in 1815 took place in August, so time was of the essence, we shot as soon as we got the fund because most of the filming needed to be done in woodland, which can turn autumnal rapidly,” she explains.
“Everything was really fast paced, it was good to have the deadline of getting everything ready for the start of 2019, as I know even shorts can take a couple of years to make, but the team got it done and I am really proud.”
The superb cast for the short includes Beast’s Jessie Buckley, Rogue One’s Alistair Petrie and Sex Education’s Samantha Spiro, people Emma said she and producers Tilly Coulson and Anna Hargreaves already had in mind.
What did they spend their budget on? The only historical of the five films could have easily eaten up the twenty grand on military costumes, but Emma explains they were borrowed from re-enactment societies. “Basically, we spent our budget on anything we couldn’t borrow.”
A Battle in Waterloo is now being considered for film festivals and Emma is using the project to seek representation. She told Electra previously she wanted to make military history films – just as epics such as The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots have brought historical movies back into vogue. The role of women in military history, Emma says, still remains an unexplored area.
“I just liked the idea of putting women in that context of a battle,” she says. “Pre 20th century, women just don’t figure in any stories of military history, and yet we know they existed on the fringes, and even fought.”
“In too many stories the older woman isn’t playing the main character, she’s playing a mum or a grandmother and we wanted to write about a woman who was fun. ”
It’s a dystopian future, not the past, that another of the FFF winners, The Leaving Party, confronts. Its makers, Helena Sutcliffe and Emily Bray, have made a short film starting with the future premise that anyone’s 80th birthday will definitely be their last. But one octogenarian isn’t going quietly.
“When we heard hat Bumble had a competition and it was championing female stories, we had the idea of wanting to feature an older woman,” says Emily Bray. “In too many stories the older woman isn’t playing the main character, she’s playing a mum or a grandmother and we wanted to write about a woman who was fun. Joy hopefully captures that.”
Joy is played by 86 year old actress Caroline Blakiston, whose credits include Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and recently the BBC series Poldark.
“We were just really lucky with all the amazing older actors we worked with on set, and particularly Caroline, we learned a lot from her, and we learned a lot about life. She was incredibly willing to share all of her long career with us and actually all the costumes in the film are her own. We really connected with her, and it was a great thing for us, as women in our 20s.”
Incredibly funny and moving, The Leaving Party is a sly retort to everyone’s fear of ageing – women in particular, since we are taught it’s something to be feared, and the fear of being thought useless. That everyone’s life should end on their 80th birthday is incredibly harsh, Helena Sutcliffe agrees, “but perhaps it doesn’t seem to be too far off sometimes? Anyway, we hope we’re providing a very funny end of the world at least.”
If the new rounds of the Female Film Force interests you, this is what you need to know.
Applications for Round One will close on the 20th March. A shortlist will then be announced and our filmmakers will be asked to submit further materials to support their ideas.
Anyone who identifies as a woman is encouraged to apply.
Ten teams will be asked to pitch to our industry panel in London in June.
The five chosen teams will be announced in June with films delivered in January 2020. Over the production period, our five filmmakers will also receive guidance from leading industry experts as part of a bespoke mentorship programme created in partnership with WDW Entertainment.