Star director: My parents are like "if it's not in the Kenilworth Weekly News, it didn't happen"
Acclaimed filmmaker Alice Lowe is coming back to her home territory with when she appears at Warwick Arts Centre on Thursday January 26 to talk about her new film, Prevenge (15), which she has directed and in which she plays the lead role. In this Q and A, she talks about returning to a place she knows well - and what it's like to play a pregnant woman who feels compelled to murder people...
Q: How do you feel about coming back to your home town for an event on a film you wrote, starred and directed in?
A: It feels really weird actually. When I was a kid I was in a drama club and the Christmas show would be put on at Warwick Arts. In some ways it’s full circle! Perhaps it will feel normal. Like I’m a kid putting on a Christmas show for my relatives! My mum and dad are cock-a-hoop. They are like, "if it’s not featured in Kenilworth Weekly News, it didn’t happen". I never expected to be making films, and I’m still a bit in disbelief I’ve made one really. I certainly never would have guessed I’d be screening on a film here.
Q: Talking about Prevenge, what was the inspiration behind this story?
A: I was pregnant and I was asked to make a film! At first I turned down the opportunity because I was pregnant. Then I thought ‘what am I doing? I’ve been wanting to make a feature for ages, and suddenly you’ve got a chance!’ I put into the film all my fears and worries about never working again as an actress, people’s changing perception of you as a mother, and the lack of control over the future. I already felt out of the loop about parenthood, so I put an exaggerated version of it all into the film.
Q: You play the part of a homicidal mother-to-be in the film, and you were pregnant during filming –how did this influence the creative and active process of the film?
A: In my second trimester, which is when I decided to make the film, I had all these crazy active hormones that people rarely tell you about. I was everywhere doing everything! I was like, ‘I wanna make a movie, write a novel, make an Edinburgh show.’ Etc etc. I put some of this mania and euphoria into the film. I was having very bright vivid dreams, so I wanted to put some of those extreme emotions and psychedelia into the film. Meanwhile, I actually felt very calm about the whole filming process. I don’t know whether some of the hormones have a sedative effect…Then post production, when I was in the edit, I had to watch stuff by myself at home while looking after a tiny baby. And I found that a very self-revealing and intimate process. Like getting to know an actual baby.
Q: Now Della Moon is here and you’ve got a lovely baby do you look at the film through different eyes?
A: Um…it’s hard to say if I would have written a different film! All I would say is that Della is such a sweet natured baby, there’s no mistaking her as inspiration for the baby character. And I hope she doesn’t think it’s indicative of my attitude towards her. I did edit the film when the baby was here. So I think there’s a nice mixture of knowledge after the fact and naivety in there.
Q: This is your directorial debut, and you also wrote the script in a couple of weeks and shot the film in 11 days over three weeks. What do you think pushed you into making this project under such an incredible timescale? And what was it like working under such tight timings?
A: The baby imminently due to appear was my main impetus! We had to shoot that quickly. I knew I would struggle to shoot with a tiny baby. But filming I could do. I think the pregnancy really galvanised the project and gave energy and momentum – ha ha, sounds like going into labour! I was so relieved to be able to work fast and make something. Usually the development process can take years. I love working in a fast and furious style. It might be rough round the edges but it has energy and vitality and a kind of nervous tension in the performances. It’s such a fun way to work. I’m used to it.
Q: In an interview with The Guardian you mention that you “always be the weird character that nobody else wanted to play.” Do you harbour any secret ambitions to play the ‘nice/good’ girl?
A: No. Ha ha! What’s ‘good’ anyway? No one is entirely good. And if they are, that’s not a character, it’s a fantasy.
Q: What’s next on your work agenda?
A: I’m developing another feature. Still under wraps at the moment, but it’s ambitious and bonkers.
* Visit http://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/2017/special-preview-prevenge for tickets to the event on Thursday January 26.