A girl’s fractured memories distort the truth of a sexual assault in this multi-layered thriller.
Interview with Director Kate Cheeseman
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
The screenwriter had a best friend at school who was sexually assaulted like Evie and who was too frightened to tell anyone. Carol wanted to write a film that would help others in the future deal with similar attacks. The screenplay had won some awards and the producer and writer were looking for someone to direct the film. I saw the advert and loved the script, so met with the production team who I also really liked, so agreed to direct the film. We then worked really hard making the script as good as possible to be able shoot on a really tight schedule. Then we shot it, just before all the #MeToo movement started.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
We were making the film as the whole #MeToo movement started to grow and the film is really relevant to that. Therefore, I hope it will help people in similar situations to deal with the issues and all of us to think about the broader issues of how women are seen and how they are portrayed in the media which feeds into that.
As a woman working in the media and with a teenage daughter, I’ve always been aware of the problems women can have. However, what surprised me was that most people I talked to had had some sort of bad experience at least once, sometimes more than that. That is quite shocking! And many of the cast and crew wanted to be involved because they felt it was an important story to tell and relevant to them.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
As a director I was interested in externalising the thoughts and feelings going through someone's head, so that every time Evie sees or hears something that reminds her of what has happened, it triggers her memories which are rattling round in her head. I was also interested in making a thriller but one from the heroine's point of view rather than us the viewers looking a woman going through something. So I made sure that we shot everything from Evie’s point of view so that the audience felt what she was feeling rather than us watching what was happening to her. Also I was very aware that I didn’t want to make something voyeuristic. The bath scene, for instance, was originally naked, but I felt that having Evie clothed made her feel safer, worked visually and also meant we weren’t making a film with an unnecessary naked woman in it.
Finally, I was really careful to choreograph all the action and assault scenes with a female fight co-ordinator. That meant that all the actors knew exactly what they were doing and weren’t worried or frightened about shooting it. I think it is really important to be very precise and technical about any scenes like this so that everyone feels safe. It also saves time when you shoot!
I think the other point is that I think the world is full of grey areas and we like to make things all black and white. The teacher is obviously completely in the wrong, but right from Evie's worry about whether it is her fault which obviously it isn't to whether the boys, though heroes, are obviously also not innocent in the way they treat women. However, hopefully this whole incident makes them think further about it and I hope that will open up discussions in a non-confrontational way about that sort of behaviour. Finally I think we also cling to stereotypes of who baddies are rather than looking at the statistics. Yes gang rape happens, but the majority of assaults are by people that are known to the victim. It is easier for people to divert the very real problems that exist to an easy imagined culprit and not really deal with the actual issues.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Carol had already written a great script, so when I came aboard it was just finessing it, so that I could put her ideas on the screen. The rape was originally at night, but I also liked the idea of something going on in almost full view of the city but in it's underbelly, which I guess is another theme.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Everyone has been really really positive particularly in the States and we have had lots of amazing reviews, and several big prizes in Ireland, at Cannes and in Australia. Other film makers have been extraordinarily generous about how well made it was too which is a lovely compliment and we've had viewers contacting us with lovely feedback
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The only thing I find strange is that it keeps being rejected by British festivals whilst winning awards abroad and getting great accolades in the rest of the world! So I wonder what that is about and if people still have a fear of some of the issues it raises!
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
It is great to have more publicity for the film so more people watch it and talk about the issues it raises.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I think some film festival directors would be nice and maybe you need journalists for that! But also we need our personal profiles raising so that we can get money to make our next films.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I think one film alone won't change anything, but I think women and men for that matter need to keep raising these issues so that the #Metoo issue doesn't disappear and we build more respect for people in all works of life.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
I really think it is what I talked about above, what is it in our societies that underpins the number of assaults that there are. What are the attitudes we need to change?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
We're working on a couple of feature film projects, one about a family dealing with grief. It’s a magical realism film which we hope will be joyful as well as exploring a difficult time in a family’s life. The other is a ghost story about things that lie hidden and pass down the generations. At the moment we are looking for money to help us develop the scripts further and attach some good actors/actresses. It is always difficult to get the first investment!
Interview: September 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
What Happened to Evie
A girl’s fractured memories distort the truth of a sexual assault in this multi-layered thriller.
Length: 10 mins 37 secs
About the writer, director, producer:
KATE CHEESEMAN (director) Kate Cheeseman is an award-winning director working in film and television drama. She started her career in film editing before moving to direct documentary and then drama. She won a BAFTA plus the Prix Danube Jury Prize for the TV film One Whole Heart and serial Pig Heart Boy. She has also won an RTS and a BMA medal for previous drama productions.
CAROL YOUNGHUSBAND (writer) has enjoyed considerable success as a writer in many mediums including film, TV, radio and theatre. She has been a contract writer on two Emmy award-winning TV series, and is published in London, New York, Toronto and Holland. Her scripts and films have won many global awards.
GEORGINA FRENCH (producer) founded French Fancy Productions Ltd in 2013. She has produced numerous award winning short films, including: The Touch, winner of the Canon Film Competition at Berlinale Talents and Prick Thy Neighbour, a comedy selected by Film London’s ‘London Calling’ scheme.
BESSIE COATES (Evie) is a recent graduate of Drama Studio London. Her star is already in the ascendancy following a series of highly acclaimed theatre performances. Her stage credits include the role of Mrs Cantalupe in Diana of Dobsons; Millamant in The Way of the Worlds, and Olga in Three Sisters. And she has recently appeared in Ben Elton's Upstart Crow on BBC2.
MICHAEL JIBSON (Mr. Hooper) won an Olivier Award in 2018 for his role as King George III in Lin Manuel Miranda's Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning Hamilton playing at the Victoria Palace in the West End. He was also nominated for an Olivier in 2016 for his role in Our House.
SIAN REEVES (Evie’s mum) is a British actress most famous for playing the critically acclaimed role of Sydney Henshall in the BBC drama Cutting It, and the villain Sally Spode in Emmerdale. She was an original cast member of Les Miserables in 1985, and has enjoyed numerous roles throughout her highly successful career in film, tv and theatre. (** If you see a resemblance between Evie and Evie's Mum it's because they are mother and daughter in real life too!)
Official Website: www.whathappenedtoevie.com
Funders: Personally financed.
Post-production financed by: Stefan Allesch-Taylor
Made in association with: French Fancy Productions
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? (26 – 30 Sep) Catalina Int’l Film Festival, USA; (27 – 30 Sep) Lady Filmmakers Festival, USA; (11 – 14 Oct) San Jose Int’l Short Film Festival, USA; (11 – 14 Oct) Bend Film Festival, USA; (17 - 21 Oct) St. John’s Int’l Women’s Film Festival, Canada; (22 – 28 Oct) Montecatini Int’l Short Film Festival, Italy; (25 - 27 Oct) Courage Film Festival, Berlin; (2 - 11 Nov) Yofifest Film Festival, USA; (16 – 25 Nov) Underwire Festival, UK; (24 Nov – 2 Dec) Kinofilm Manchester Int’l Short Film Festival, UK