This week we are featuring a short film from director Luana Di Pasquale.
“Life made me become a film director” Luana states when I asked what made her want to direct films, “I believe some of the best things in life happen accidentally and becoming a film director was one of those fortunate transitional moments that you have no control of.” The story of Luana’s career in film making involves a serendipitous enrolment in a hands on film making course, which after graduating with a distinction transitioned into an Honours degree at the University of Arts London.
What followed was a career as a freelance writer/self-shooting PD (producer/director) producing branded video content/promos for private clients, video installation for solo/collective exhibition, short documentaries for cable TVs and lately as a TV talk show PD. “I spent most of my time exploring and experimenting different ways to tell a story: I was just doing stuff without not realising that I was doing it, I just really enjoyed making stories…it made me happy and still does,” Luana said.
Since starting her own production company Lunadipas Films a year ago Luana has developed a slate of films to be shot over the next 15 years. The first film from the slate is Keep Mum, a genre short film completed on the 16th June 2019 and co-produced by Reblis Films. The story is about the cycle of domestic violence and how this affects the psyche of a woman. “I wrote the first draft…when I just discovered the truth about the tragic story of my aunt. Her disappearance at age 24 was related to domestic violence. Her body was never found.” Luana explained, “What was going on in my aunt’s mind will always be a mystery to me, but it inspired me to explore the psyche of woman pushed beyond the edge of sanity, caused by the violence in her everyday life.”
Conceived around the same time as the #TimesUp #MeToo and #TheSilenceBreakers movements were achieving prevalence it became clear to Luana that the importance of telling a story like Keep Mum had just increased. “I feel it is important to do anything possible to disrupt that cycle of violence, and I believe telling this story at such an accommodating time will help work towards achieving that.” She said, “I also wanted to make a genre film that would entertain its audience by gradually piecing the story together, but ultimately make them think deeply about its subject matter.” There is also no violence shown in the film, which takes the emphasis away from the act itself focusing more on the impact and consequences of it instead.
There were a series of challenges and highlights during the production of the film including losing the script supervisor the day before shooting due to a tragic family incident. “Another challenge was the weather during the car scene shoot, as it felt close to -10degrees and I didn’t want there to be any visible breath in the car.” Luana explained, “I wanted it to feel real because of the intensity of the actors’ performances, not because of the environment. Though the weather was also a blessing as the natural snowfall gave us the Christmassy feel and saved us having to get a snow machine.”
The highlights of the Keep Mum production for Luana was working with great people. “Both cast and crew were amazing: Cameron Murray – the child actor on the production, Having his energy on set made my day, he’s such a lovely kid,” Luana said. “Also considering the intensity of the film’s subject matter, he was a welcomed refreshing presence to have on set. Nadira Murray made my life easier as a director as she had a clear vision and understanding of Mum’s character as she previously performed Medea which was extremely well-received both by the audience and the press and the crew, the best ever as we worked long hours…“
The film is now finished and Luana has already submitted the production to festivals for 2019/2020, particularly targeting those that appreciate the psychological thriller genre. The film also had a predominantly female crew, which wasn’t an intentional choice to start but has now become something Luana wants to promote and help encourage other women to be a part of the film industry.
Keep Mum also acts as a proof of concept for Luana’s next feature film project My Enemy Within. “The feature will not only explore more about the circumstances witnessed in Keep Mum, but also follow on from these events, telling us more about who Mum really is.” she explained, “The story will cover where she has come from, as well as where she’s heading to, as she confronts the demons of her psyche. I want to delve more into the element of illusion of what is real and what is not, exploring, from a more psychedelic approach, the mind of the character Mum as she enters the underworld of her psyche… I don’t want to give too much away this early on, but what I can say is that this will definitely blow your mind.”