Sunderland Shorts: Female Directors - Comedy

In the lead up to the Sunderland Short Film Festival where our film Foxhole will be screened, we're highlighting the other female film directors whose work will be at the event. In this article we speak to four of the directors who will be showing their comedy films. 

Tabatha Golat, director of The United Guys Network, is from Canada and has been making films since the age of 13. Gisela Nadasy, director of After School, is from Sweden and has been making films for the past 6 years. Faye Ivy Smith, director of Hot Lesbian Twins, is from Newcastle and is new to directing after graduating university. Kristin Schaack, co-director of Rag Dolls, is from Minnesota USA and has been directing for 8 years alongside her husband.

Here they speak to us about their films, the upcoming festival and their favourite female directors.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TELL THIS STORY?

Tabatha: I read the script for 'The United Guys Network' after meeting the writer Montgomery Burt at a filmmaking workshop. I was drawn to the comedy and saw potential to create a tongue in cheek statement on gender roles. I found the premise ridiculous on a real life scale, but some moments in the film did ring true. I love comedy and making people laugh, so it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the script.

Gisela: I've attended over 50 parents' meetings over the years. I find them sad and funny and a great forum for bragging, competing, defending, arguing, flirting...I just had to write it!

Faye: Lesbians are used to being stereotyped as stuffy and serious in reality, but overly feminine and ‘sexy’ in porn and the media. I felt it was time to battle homophobia and sexism in a fun and comedic way, to show how ridiculous men look when they make unwarranted comments.

Kristin: In a world where things can be scary, cold, and serious, Rag Dolls was created to provide a whimsical escape, bringing levity to our lives during trying times.  And what better escape to visit than the imagination and wonder of a child.

 Still from The United Guys Network

Still from The United Guys Network

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE DURING THE MAKING OF THE FILM?

Tabatha: Our biggest obstacle in making this film was initially funding. Short films are usually a labour of love, and tough to finance. Thankfully we received a $10 000 grant from Telus Storyhive, which is a great opportunity for filmmakers here in BC and Alberta. After we received the grant, we had 75 days from start to delivery, which was a bit of a rush but we made it!

Gisela: I couldn't for the life of me find the fourth actor. In the end, he turned out to sit two doors away from me in the office I rented.

Faye: The biggest obstacle is usually finding time to really focus on my films. It would be a dream to be able to work on my ideas full time, but bills need to be paid! This means lots of long days and lots of prioritising, but it always pay off!

Kristin: Directing a child was definitely a new challenge for me. I had to rethink how to phrase my direction and share it in way that would be more natural to how our actor, Presley, would think.  If the direction didn't work, I'd find a new way to present the idea to her. Working with kids also presented a different shooting schedule, especially working under conditions, such as an antique shop in the middle of summer with no air conditioning.  We took 'ice pack' and 'fan' breaks for Presley, to be sure she was comfortable, cool, and maintained her great energy.   

 Still from Rag Doll

Still from Rag Doll

WILL YOU BE ATTENDING THE FESTIVAL IN SUNDERLAND?

Tabatha: Unfortunately I'm not able to attend the festival. I will be following along on social media though!

Gisela: Yes, I am. Meeting filmmakers and watching it on the big screen - I never get tired of it.

Faye: Of course! I can’t wait to see the films in the Sci-Fi/Horror screening. Sci-Fi feeds into my work a lot, and there’s nothing better than a good Horror.

Kristin: I would love to attend the festival, but currently TBD based on work schedule.  However, the thing I love most about attending festivals, is watching our films with an audience and experiencing it with them for their first time viewing.  I also love meeting other filmmakers and hearing stories of what went in to making their movies.

 Still from After School

Still from After School

HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE PROCESS OF SENDING YOUR FILM TO FESTIVALS?

Tabatha: Submitting to festivals has been a process for sure. Thankfully, I have a strong co-producer in Monty Burt and he's taken the reins. I swear he could write a report on the process when it's all said and done. Without A Box is extremely helpful. We have lists of festivals we've submitted to, ones we were rejected from, and thankfully, ones that we were accepted into. One thing that we noticed is that after receiving a few laurels it's been easier to get in to other festivals. 

Gisela: Expensive and time-consuming! But it's been screened all over the world, and now here in Sunderland, makes it all worth while.

Faye: This is the first festival to show one of my films - I’ve found that finding a platform to network and get your name out there is amazing to get your work noticed and shown.

Kristin: FilmFreeway has been a great resource for finding and submitting to different festivals around the world. When deciding what festivals to submit the films to, I focus on festivals that show a strong support of the filmmakers and who program films that fall within the comedic genre.

 Still from Hot Lesbian Twins

Still from Hot Lesbian Twins

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FEMALE FILM DIRECTOR AT THE MOMENT?

Tabatha: My favourite Female Director is Greta Gerwig. I absolutely loved 'Lady Bird,' and can't wait for what comes next from her! I strongly support female filmmakers and feel like we have so many stories to tell. I can't wait for what comes next in the film industry from fellow female directors.

Gisela: Susanne Bier - together with her brilliant screenwriter.

Faye: I love the Wachowskis – both have used their experiences as Trans Women, and their platform and talent as incredible directors to create films and television that are inclusive and celebratory of diversity. The Netflix Original Sense8 felt like a breath of fresh air amidst many male dominated, white, heteronormative shows.

Kristin: I really enjoy films by Nancy Meyers and Amy Heckerling. As a comedy director, I gravitate toward other filmmakers who have the artful skill of bringing laughter and joy to an audience.

Tabatha, Gisela, Faye and Kristin's films will be screened on Thursday 3rd May and Saturday 5th May, for tickets and more information go to the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival website.

You can follow the directors on social media using the below links:

Tabatha: Instagram

Gisela: Website

Faye: Instagram

Kristin: Website / Instagram