A young woman explores life and death through the relationship with her beds.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Jennifer Mulligan
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I had the idea for this film since 2013, after I saw my mother on her deathbed succumbing to very aggressive pancreatic cancer. I wanted to capture a human connection with their beds over the course of a lifetime. Fortunately, nearly all the beds in the piece are mine (or they look like what I had when I was in my youth). To explore that relationship, I thought I would use visuals, poetry and music, and layer those elements to evoke memories and emotions. I was very fortunate to receive a grant from Ottawa's SAW Video Media Art Centre as part of their JumpStart Mentorship which allowed me to make this film happen.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This film follows a female character through the course of a day, or a life. Audience members may recognize themselves at some point, or remember who they were. It also shows that life is cyclical and that endings are usually beginnings, so it ends on an up note. An audience member should watch this film if they are in the mood to ask themselves some big life questions.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Personal themes of love, loss and acceptance are explored through words from childhood, through youth and on to adulthood. I wanted the images to emphasize the rhythms and pace of life in the same way. The universal themes of human cycles, relationships, and endings as beginnings are explored through images and how they weave together.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The script was a poem, much different in terms of the structure than what it became in the finished piece. I knew that making this film would be a complete process and I had to let it unfold as it happened without limitations on where the edges might be. The film became something more than what I had originally imagined as a result. The same thing happened with the visuals. I had some general ideas of the "essence" of the shots, but I wanted to ensure that I also captured spontaneous moments with the actor. The DP was awesome in giving me lots of great shots to work with. I had originally not wanted music, just the poems and the night sounds, but I was given the gift of generosity from a friend, a dynamic music composer, who layered in the subtle sounds that really unified the piece. All told, this is a much richer and dynamic film than I had originally envisioned and I am grateful.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
So far, the feedback has been very positive. I've been told I've taken some bold editing choices. The pacing also seems to work well. I'm a believer that all feedback is good feedback, and I understand that not all work will resonate the same for everyone, but I hope generally people enjoy it.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
With respect to the feedback on the editing, I did it very instinctively, so I had never considered any of the cuts being considered bold choices. It was simply how I thought the images and words would work best for what I wanted to achieve.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
This is a two part answer. I would love to have more people see this film, read about the genesis of its creation and hopefully seek it out should I be fortunate enough to have it play in other cities around the world. Certainly, folks can find me through this article and follow me on social media to see where this film gets screened. It will land online eventually, once it’s exhausted it’s festival run, so everyone will be able to see it then. Secondly, I will be putting together some ideas I have for a feature, based on an adaptation I wrote of a friend’s novel, and I will be looking to do a short film to generate interest for a feature. Some of the mood of this film mimics the essence of the feature. I would love for producers to see my work and want to collaborate on more projects in the future.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
As an artist, and since this is my first professional short, I would love to have the opportunity for it to travel to many more festivals, beyond those that I submitted to for a chance of being selected. So, any festival directors who connect with my piece, I would love to have a chance to screen at their festivals. Any chance to share art with someone is a gift. I'm very excited to have the US Premiere at Lady Filmmakers Festival. I was a script finalist with them in 2014. It was a great experience and I'm very happy to have my first short film selected for their lineup.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I hope that it connects someone back to the memory of their beds they had in their life. The feel of the sheets, the warmth of the blankets. I think a bed is a very intimate piece of furniture that we spend a lot of time with. I hope that people can see their own life journey in this story, and question their past and their future. And maybe understand, and I know this is cliche, that every ending is a beginning. Every day you get the chance to live and change and love and grow, and do it all again tomorrow. And to not take any of those days for granted because it’s all over too soon.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
It’s a quiet moment in the film, when words pop up on the wall -- “What do you dream of?” I think with the pace of living these days, a lot of people forget they had dreams. What are they? Are they faded or are they on a back burner? It’s important when life is moving fast to take as many moments for your inner world to feel fulfilled too.
Would you like to add anything else?
Thanks for asking me to contribute to this site. It’s a real honour. I hope people enjoy the film and connect on social media for some lively conversations.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m working on a few feature polishes and writing short fiction. I also co-run two film festivals so there is always something to be done!
Caelen Benn, the DP, just wrapped camera work on a short film. His next project is cinematography for a pilot for a web series.
Victoria Luloff can be seen in two screenings this Fall, in Ottawa. One is called Monster Pool 3, and the other is called Unholy Night. Victoria is also part of the production and creation team for a Theatrical Experience with the working title Nightmare Circus.
Interview: September 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. 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
death isn't the same anymore
A young woman explores life and death through the relationship with her beds.
Director: Jennifer Mulligan
Producer: Jennifer Mulligan
Writer: Jennifer Mulligan
About the writer, director and producer:
Jennifer Mulligan is a writer-director from Gatineau, Quebec, working primarily in English. She has written several feature scripts for directors and producers in Ottawa.
Key cast: Victoria Luloff
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Film festival directors, journalists, distributors, and producers.
Social media handles:
Facebook: MJ Mulligan (personal)
Funders: JumpStart Mentorship 2016-2017, private funding.
Made in association with: SAW Video Media Art Centre
Where can I see it in the next month?
September: Lady Filmmakers Festival, Beverly Hills, California
October: Lights, Camera, CURE: Celebrate Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada