For a long time women have been trying to fight the stigma of periods, in her short film My Time, Giulia Gandini does just this. In this interview she tells how she became a film maker, other female directors she looks up and how she feels about the short playing at the Underwire Film Festival this coming weekend.
How did you find your way into film making?
I grew up in a provincial town in Italy. I've always been a film lover, but nobody had ever told me that filmmaking could be an actual career path until I moved to London for Uni. ! I volunteered as a camera operator at festivals over summer to learn the basics of cinematography and learnt how to edit on Premiere thanks to YouTube tutorials. I finally decided to apply to film school, and I'm grateful I got into the Directing MA at MET Film School - it changed my life!
Tell us about My Time…
My Time is a 6 minute short film about a girl who has her first period at school. It's the first short film I wrote and directed, and it's based on an experience I had in middle school. My hope is for people of all ages and genders to watch it and be inspired to consider menstrual blood as something natural and positive, rather than something to be ashamed of. It's time to break the stigma and recognise that menstruation matters.
How did you take the news of being accepted into the festival?
I was incredibly excited! I've been attending Underwire since I was a student, I can't believe one of my short films is playing on Opening Night. I'm very grateful!
Funding in this industry can always be a challenge, how did you achieve yours?
Half of the budget came from my own pocket and from my family believing in me and being able to give me some money to make it happen. The other half came from a pitching competition I won at film school, plus a production company called Signature Pictures (which also offers training on set to unemployed young people from Croydon).
What was the most challenging aspect of making My Time?
I found the casting process to be the most distressing on this one because the lead character has only 3 lines of dialogue and is sitting on a chair for more than half the film. I was looking for a girl aged 11-13 with the ability to showcase a whole range of emotions just through body language, which is definitely possible but not so easy to find! I realised quite soon that it'd be more beneficial if I spent time researching and contacting agents of specific young actors (rather than posting open casting calls online on platforms such as Mandy or Spotlight). I eventually cast Clara Read (whom I saw acting as Matilda in Matilda the Musical on the West End, and who also played Willem Defoe's daughter in What Happened to Monday? on Netflix) and working with her was great!
Underwire celebrates female film making talent in the industry, what female film makers do you look up to?
I'm a fan of Céline Sciamma, I find her coming-of-age films and minimalist style deeply inspiring. I also love Desiree Akhavan, no other filmmaker that I know of has so openly and honestly depicted bisexuality on screen!
What’s the next project for you?
I'm writing a new short film called RUNNER about young girls and sports, which I hope to direct next year! I'm also in post-production on a documentary mini-series supported by BFI Future Film and the UN.