Stephanie Joalland, originally from France, has made her debut feature here in the UK, The Quiet Hour is an intimate take on the alien invasion genre and was one of the gala films at Raindance 2014. She talks to us about her working life.
This is my first feature film, I’m from a writing background and it took me a while to get my project off the ground.
I think in the indie world you have to greenlight yourself and have that control and the best way to do it, if you can, is to write a screenplay because you don’t have anyone then who says ‘no you can’t direct it’, you can keep it to yourself. I’ve been approached by a few film companies and they wanted my screenplay but they didn’t want me as a director, they were like ‘yeah but what makes you think you can direct it?’ so then I decided to put this together with my producing partner.
I try not to obsess too much about the fact I’m a woman; I am and I see myself as a director who happens to be a woman. When you’re a first time director you’re not trusted yet, it’s going to be hard to make the first movie, and my male filmmaker friends have the same problems.
I believe that 24% of directors in France are women so I come from a place where there are a lot of women directors, and a lot of screenwriters are women as well, I never heard that prejudice against women when I was in Paris. When I moved to LA I became very conscious of being a woman in a male industry and I was never conscious of that before.
In England I found I got a lot of support from men. The stats are that not many directors here are women; but it’s also a country where you are not made aware so much of you being a woman, there is a chasm here, it’s interesting. I have found myself being embraced.
When it is a low budget film you have only 3 weeks to shoot and you have very few resources. We were shooting in Ireland in a small town in Tipperary Co. The whole community embraced us so we were very lucky. I would have liked to have had more preparation, more time with my actors, more time to build the set, and more time to storyboard my action scenes but you just have to do it you have to put your feet on the ground and make a film.
When you’re lucky a project takes 2 years to complete, because it takes 9 months maybe to develop a screenplay and get the money, I was lucky because it happened very quickly, but it can take much longer.
I’m not compelled to write stories about women’s issues but my lead parts do tend to be women because I find there are not enough great parts for women. My next project is about time travel and it does have a strong lead which is a woman.
Visual effects, don’t try to wing them, I got lucky, I have a good team and we had a great designer who did a good job but I could have made more conceptual art and done more storyboarding for effects. The next project ideally I would have a post-production supervisor of some kind and more prep time with my actors.
I would love to be making $5 million movies, not because big movies are my goal but being able to be like Darren Aronofksy and Chris Nolan; they are producers and writers and directors and they follow their voice and what they have to say about the world. I like Katherine Bigelow because she has heart and she makes awesome films but keeps doing the projects she wants
Don’t listen to the naysayers who say you’re a woman you can’t do it, I think there is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy. I hear so many women saying ‘I couldn’t make it because I’m a woman’; there is no excuse, get hold of a red camera, a 5D, and make a movie, find actors. Just do it. Last year I went to the American film market and I was reading the trades and I noticed the Chinese filmmaker of the year was a woman. The tide is turning.