Francesca Fowler received the Best Writer Award in 2012 for Pitfall and was nominated for the Best Actor Award in 2013.
I started acting professionally in 2004 for film and TV. Writing was always a strong passion of mine but it wasn’t until 2010 that I decided to take it seriously. I went onto co-produce a couple of short films, whilst continuing to work on my writing portfolio.
How did Pitfall come about?
We (myself and the Director) were actually approached by our lead Actor who wanted to play a certain type of character but was unsure of the setting and story. So we created Pitfall around the character of Lauren. Essentially it was a commissioned short film. The actual idea for the film came from an experience I’d had years prior when I helped a heavily intoxicated girl find her way home… my dark imagination did the rest.
What was the biggest challenge or most important lesson you learnt in making Pitfall?
We shot a fifteen-page script in the space of one night whilst I was seven months pregnant, recording sound (on no budget) … the whole thing was a challenge! But it was a lovely experience due to the team we had. It was surprisingly relaxed given the amount of material we had to get through. We were working with wonderful actors who were happy to pitch in, which was a dream.
What did I learn? I think it helped to reinforce the concept of ‘just get on with it’. It’s ok to go guerrilla with your filmmaking, it doesn’t have to be perfect – you learn so much in the process.
What other female filmmakers inspire you?
Kristen Wiig, Amy Schumer, Amy Poehler, Tiny Fey… Weird that American comedians are springing to mind. America seems to champion Actors/Writers/Filmmakers a bit better than we do. But if we’re staying out of the States: Jane Campion’s work is always stunning. Sharon Horgan, Jennifer Saunders, Lynne Ramsay, July Delpy, Jane Goldman. All bloody brilliant.
What was your experience of screening your film in competition at Underwire Festival?
Beyond lovely! I got to meet the other filmmakers. I received an abundance of support from the Underwire team. The networking opportunities that follow the festival are brilliant too. It really is a very special festival, I’m very proud to fall under its umbrella of past winners.
Did any opportunities arise from being part of Underwire?
All of the above! I think more than anything, it was a massive confidence boost to keep going with it all. Working on no budget films can take its toll, so sometimes you need a little outside reassurance that you’re on the right track.
And I later secured a literary agent, which has been amazing – definitely something you need if you’re considering a career in screenwriting.
How did the prize you received from our award partner Euroscript help you in your career?
I attended some brilliant workshops held by Euroscript and also had a wonderful script report done for a feature script I was working on at the time. So it was very educational. I also met some very welcoming (and very talented) women via my membership at Women in Film & TV (UK).
How important have festival screenings been for you?
Being a writer, a lot of my portfolio pieces are just at script stage, so I don’t always have the finished films/projects to enter. Because of that, festivals aren’t something I deal with a lot. But of course, whenever I do have a finished project, I’m always keen to get them into as many festivals as I can, as it’s obviously great exposure for independent films. It’s a very needed platform.
Do you have any advice for filmmakers currently submitting their films to the festival circuit?
1: Save up! If you’re entering a lot, it’s going to get pricey.
2: Don’t get too disheartened if some festivals don’t take your film. Move on. You’re film isn’t going to be for everyone and that’s fine.
3: Be brave. Go to the festivals, say hi to people. It can be daunting but you can meet some brilliant people and the opportunity to collaborate is always on the cards.
What advice would you share with other filmmakers?
Get the highest paid part-time job you possibly can! Work your socks off and don’t give up.
What do you think would benefit female filmmakers trying to make it in the industry?
Confidence and self-belief. Genuinely. The talent is out there, that’s not the problem. It’s tougher for women, there’s no doubt about it. The statistics prove it BUT I think a lot of it comes down to the way women are raised in our society. Boys are taught to be leaders and girls aren’t (predominantly). So don’t make it even harder for yourself by not believing that you’re good enough. Just go and do it… Now!
What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a sitcom and a feature script, as well as writing outlines for my slate for interested producers etc. And as a little side project, I’ve just teamed up with an amazing animator for a short film, which I’m really excited about. It’s a comedy about bugs… you know, as you do.