Underwire 2019: Peak by Lucy Rose

Lucy Rose made her short film Peak on zero budget, the PTSD based drama is showing at this years Underwire Film Festival which is something ticked off the bucket list for Lucy. In this interview she discusses the challenges of the film and the difficulties of moving into film making in a working class environment.

How did you find your way into film making?

I’ve always had an interest in film, but had been discouraged from being a writer from a young age due to growing up in such a working class area. My ambitions as a working class girl were very much pointed towards becoming a mother, a cleaner or a clerical assistant by the adults around me, but I’d always despised the idea of doing what I was told and so after starting my career in photography, I was quickly drawn to moving image. I left home at fifteen and it’s ultimately that decision that brought me to film because it taught me to follow my gut and take risks.

Still from Peak

Still from Peak

Tell us more about your film PEAK…

Peak at its centre is about the aftermath of trauma. I was getting so tired of seeing such glamourised portrayals of conditions like (C)PTSD and trauma induced anxiety. They were clearly portrayals designed by and for audiences that hadn’t experienced the condition itself. For me, seeing this representation really motivated me to go out and just create my own truth and write about my own experiences with PTSD and how harrowing it can be to live with it.

I’ve seen very few portrayals capture that intense horror and when a film or a piece of writing get it right, it’s unbelievably uncomfortable but at the same time it’s like someone is reaching out to fellow survivors. I think, or I hope, that anyone who's experienced trauma to an extreme degree, domestic or otherwise, will understand that feeling of a monster trying to creep in and that’s what we’ve tried to capture in Peak.

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

I was in complete disbelief. Underwire is one of my fantasy festivals and to be included in their line up is just a dream come true. When I received the email, my brain must’ve changed what I saw because as a creative you just get so used to seeing the rejection emails and so I saw ’Not Selected’. It took a second look to realise that one of my bucket list goals had just come true.

Still from Peak

Still from Peak

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

Funding is one of the most difficult aspects of filmmaking but this film was effectively zero-budget. Everything was favours called in and an extremely dedicated team of women working together to make something happen. We are very lucky to live in the North East, where the filmmaking industry is small but hugely supportive of one another. We had so much support off our local community and network and wouldn’t have been able to make this film without them. We are currently working towards producing our first funded film however and it’s exciting but daunting. Fingers crossed it all works out for us!

What was the most challenging aspect of making Peak?

There were a few elements of this film which were incredibly challenging and I think first and foremost, it was working off no budget. Sourcing industry standard kit, costume, props, accommodation and travel was difficult. We shot in the remote Lake District and had to find the space to put up the four of us for effectively nothing. We were really lucky to know people in the area as well as hotel/B&B owners who were kind enough to help us. We looked in a lot of charity shops and second hand online outlets for all our props and costume and we sourced our Black Magic Camera from the absolutely amazing Cintel Global! They stepped in at the last minute after months worth of set backs and made this film possible.

The second challenge was the shoot itself. We climbed a mountain everyday for almost a week to shoot this film, in extreme weather conditions, in November and so in some respects, there really was an element of methodism to making this movie. We weren’t allowed any vehicles and so the four of us carried all the props and kit on our backs like little pack mules. It was the most exhausted I’ve ever been, but it was completely worth it.

Still from Peak

Still from Peak

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

Wow, where to even begin! I’m hugely influenced by writers like Shirley Jackson and the tension she creates in her work. The work of Cate Shortland, Catherine Hardwick and Amma Asante also are hugely influential in my work. Generally speaking, there is just something about the female perspective that can somehow effortlessly combine gritty and elegant and that’s the balance I look to strike in my own work.

What’s the next project for you?

There are three things I love to explore in my writing and directing: History, Women and Mental Health and we’ll be combining the three for an introspective ghost story set on the backdrop of Cumbria. This is currently in development with a really amazing production company in the North East. I’ve been a massive fan of the work they’ve created thus far and if all goes well, I can’t wait to join their catalogue of filmmakers. I don’t want to say too much about it just yet because it’s very early days - but I will say, it’s all super exciting and I can’t wait to start properly telling people about it!

Peak is screening in the Memory Songs category on Monday 16th September at The Castle Cinema. For tickets and more information on Underwire 2019 visit their website here.

You can follow Lucy’s production company Cool Girl Pictures on all social media platforms via @coolgirlpictures and view more of their work on their website here https://www.coolgirlpictures.co.uk/