Underwire 2019: The Pregnant Ground by Haolu Wang

Haolu Wang’s psychological fantasy film follows a woman during the aftermath of a traumatic stillbirth. Here the director shares her influences and challenges of creating a fantasy film on a low budget ahead of her screening at the Underwire Film Festival this week.

How did you find your way into film making? 

By watching hundreds of pirated VCDs growing up in China, writing a letter to Julia Roberts when I was 11 and quitting my banking job in Hong Kong at 25 after watching Ingmar Bergman’s Persona.

Tell us a bit about The Pregnant Ground?

It’s a psychological fantasy film about a woman going through the aftermath of a traumatic stillbirth. She starts to suspect that a mysterious road bump below her apartment has her baby buried inside. I’m very intrigued by the inner workings of conflicted women.

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How did you take the news of being accepted into the festival? 

I was thrilled of course! Happy to have a home screening in London where the film was made a year ago, after the film premiered in America at Palm Springs.

Funding in this industry can always be a challenge, how did you achieve yours? 

We were lucky to have the funding as part of the MA Directing Fiction course from the National Film and Television School (NFTS). The film was my graduation film.

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What was the most challenging aspect of making your film?

The film is ambitious as it's a fantasy film grounded in reality. We needed fantastical elements that felt real and believable within a limited budget. I worked closely with my talented production designer, DoP, VFX team and editor, to find the look of the film in pre production to ensure the final film will feel organic and powerful as it interweaves reality and fantasy.

Underwire celebrates female film making talent in the industry, what female film makers do you look up to? 

In the industry today — Lynne Ramsay, Lucretia Martel, Jessica Hausner. Also loved On Body and Soul by Ildikó Enyedi.

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What’s the next project for you?

I’m developing a sci fi feature film with producer Camille Gatin, and writing two other original feature film projects, one in the UK and one in China, both psychological drama films with a female lead and a surrealist touch.

The Pregnant Ground is screening in the Living Scars category on Tuesday 17th September at The Castle Cinema. For tickets and more information on Underwire 2019 visit their website here.

You can watch the trailer here and view more of Haolu’s work via her website.