Featured Female Filmmakers – Part 28

Natalie Kavanagh began film making at just 8 years old. With a vivid imagination, but severe dyslexia, film was a way to escape the frustration she felt trying to communicate with words and allowed for her imagination to truly run wild. Starting out making music videos and comedy sketches then animations and short films with her friends, as she grew so to did her film making. “When I was on my degree, I bought a 16mm Bolex film camera. I shot my degree film on it, which played at BAFTA and the Curzon, in London.” Natalie said, “I still remember the huge round of applause I got after the screenings. It made me feel fantastic, like a buzz. I think it was that feeling that’s kept me going and motivated, to keep trying at it.

Since then she has had work in the film industry in various roles from Production Assistant to Director. Her most recent project however is a Sci-Fi short film and novel that has evolved over the last 8 years called Seechers, which she not only wrote but has also been directing. “It’s a project that is very close to me” Natalie explained, “The project existed at first, as a growing collection of random scenes, character ideas, writings of my growing science fiction concepts, lots of collected images and sketchbooks of drawings, notes and paintings.”

The story of the film and book follows Heavy dreamer, Aris Fletcher, who has been initiated into the Seechers. After reading a forbidden text on how to enter the Subconscious World, Aris dabbles in his own powers, which puts his life in great danger. I asked Natalie where the idea for the story came from. “In my teens, I had a dreamers club with some friends. We’d try to control our dreams, have shared dreams and were sure they meant much more than just dreams.” she said, “I always wanted to have a BIG idea. Then I came across hypnogogia, a transitional state between being awake and asleep, where you can tap your subconscious for ideas…I tried and tried to do this. To find a great TV or Film idea, naturally. Then I realised, this was an idea in itself. Taking something out of the subconscious, something special, that gave you magical powers. Then I started to think about if the subconscious was a place, that very few people had been too. The idea for SEECHERS evolved from there.”

The film has since finished production and the book, co-written with M.K Williams, is ready for publishing. Recently the post-production Kickstarer campaign ended successfully with enough for festival entries for the film, an editor and publisher for the novel and even an audio book. I spoke to Natalie about some of the highlights from production. “Working with my cinematographer Andy Horner was for me a dream come true. He’s such a talented Director of Photography. He can set up one light and make a scene look amazing. He really just blew us all away with his mastery of image.” Natalie said “The Cast and Crew were absolutely brilliant and we had a great time filming. It really felt like something very special was occurring.”

But of course as with any creative endeavour there are struggles. Being a sci-fi project, particularly one about dreams, meant visual effects were super important to take the film out of the real world into a new space. “I had totally underestimated just how much work goes into making VFX. I had asked top professionals, to work on my project for free, by convincing them I have the best idea in town. “ Natalie explained, “I think if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been quite so ambitious with the VFX. It was a lot to ask for and my incredibly talented VFX post supervisor, Paul Arion, again had the patience and the kindness to help see the project through. I owe a lot to him and his team for working on this for me.”

The next step is to hopefully turn Seechers into a TV series, but I was curious to know how difficult Natalie thought this might be as a woman in the industry given the current gender parity issues. “I think it’s hard for anyone. It’s an extremely hard thing to do. I don’t like the idea of stamping my feet and saying look at me I’m a female filmmaker, I deserve a break. I’m a filmmaker. There are many of us. I want my work to be noticed for it’s own merits, because it’s professional, unique and original, not because I’m female.” she said, “But for sure, it’s hard for women. I’m a mum. It’s especially hard for women with children. But it’s certainly not impossible.”

“Other female filmmakers can be a fantastic support network for you, because they understand what you’re going through and what you’re trying to achieve.” Natalie continued, “My producer Nic Marshall is female. She’s really nurtured and helped me a lot over the years. Working with other women can give you that support. I’m certainly grateful for all the awesome female filmmakers who I’m friends with. It’s one of those things, that if you want to do it, you will eventually find a way to do it.



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