Last month marked the first screening of Melissa Kent’s directorial debut, Bernie and Rebecca, at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Centred on the first date between the titular characters, the short film is a fascinating look at what so many of us dream about when put into similar situations.
On top of being able to review Bernie and Rebecca for myself, I was also given the opportunity to interview Melissa Kent via email about the process of its creation and her work both past and future.
Like so many things in life, you can only have one directorial debut. With that in mind, what made Bernie and Rebecca the first [of many, I’m sure] story that you wanted to tell?
Bernie and Rebecca is about a couple on a first date who imagine a not-so perfect future life together. It provided an ideal showcase for my skills directing romance, comedy, drama—basically a lifetime of love, laughter and tears—in a short 14 minutes.
Having edited so many feature length films what was it like directing a film that clocks at just shy of 14 minutes?
Actually, the filmmaking process is exactly the same, just with a much abbreviated running time. It was exciting to be making all of the pre-production decisions from casting to design to locations, and then of course being on set directing, which was a 3-day shoot. After that, the film required what they all do: editing, music, color grading, and sound mixing.
What was it like both shooting and editing your own footage? Did you ever find yourself skipping ahead in the process, knowing that certain shots would inevitably be thrown out while you were filming them?
There was only one insert I didn’t love while we were shooting so that got nixed, but everything else got used in one way or another. Being an editor probably helped my shot selection to be very efficient.
Given that so many of your past projects are either dramas or comedies [including a personal favourite of mine, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2] would you say that Bernie and Rebecca falls into a comfortable genre for you? Have you ever considered branching out into any others in the future?
Besides dramas and comedies, I have edited true crime (Captive, An American Crime), science fiction (Supernova) and even a 3D dance movie (Make Your Move). A good story is a good story and as a filmmaker I would not rule out any particular genre. It is more fun to go between genres whenever possible.
A few months ago The Guardian reported that between now and 2018 20th Century Fox and Paramount have no films directed by female directors being released.
Conversely, next year’s Wonder Woman was directed by Patty Jenkins, and Marvel appears to be specifically searching for a female director for their own Captain Marvel the following year.
Do you have any comments about the state of the industry as it stands now in regards to other women in your field?
Much respect to Jenkins and I can’t wait to see Wonder Woman.
Your next project is the upcoming American Pastoral, which both stars and was directed by Ewan McGregor. Is there anything you can tell us about that film, and if you have anything else to watch out for?
The trailer was released a few days ago and can be seen here.
It will be in theaters in October and I hope everyone will check it out!
Bernie and Rebecca is currently screening at the Madrid International Film Festival until July 9th. Watch the trailer at www.bernieandrebecca.com, and learn more about Melissa Kent’s extensive editing career at www.melissakent.com.