ROSEMARY, 10min., UK
Directed by Jessica Tooth
Get to know the filmmaker:
What motivated you to make this film?
I strive to create films that empower, inspire, inform and educate. I've long had a fascination with the treatment of women suffering mental illness throughout the 20th century, and have consistently researched how medical practice has oppressed women - particularly those who are disabled. After reading Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson, I thought it would be fascinating to translate this tragic story onto the screen, not through sensationalist or typical biopic-style means, but instead employing an experimental perspective. This meant I could not only tell Rosemary's story and expose her family's wrongdoings, but also allow the audience to empathise and gauge the huge number of people in the United States who were - and in some cases, still are - forced to undergo inhumane practices, namely lobotomies and electroshock therapy, due to rampant, hegemonic ableism that demonises disability and patriarchal institutions that use mental illness as justification for the oppression of women; silencing them through psychiatry.
From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Rosemary was created in two months. Pre-production for the film began in November 2022, when I began writing the screenplay and storyboarding the concept. The film was shot entirely within one day in mid-December, in a single location on our university campus. The film entered post-production shortly after as Serena began the editing process and the project was completed by the end of January 2023.
How would you describe your film in two words!?
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Rosemary was created with practically no budget, meaning we had no money to pay actors or crew, no money to secure locations and no money to hire equipment. The film was thus shot entirely by myself, with Serena Aguirre serving as the star and the editor. I'm so grateful that two of our wonderful coursemates and friends volunteered to help out on set, as I don't think we could've achieved this feat on our own!
What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was overcome with pride - and even cried happy tears - watching the audience speak so fondly of my work and feel so grateful that the viewers understood and appreciated my vision.
When did you realise that you wanted to make films?
Growing up, I had a particular affection for creative storytelling and was constantly praised for my short stories throughout my school years. I would frequently make silly little movies on my iPod in my backyard with my friends but didn't realise on-screen storytelling was my forte until I went to watch Dunkirk (2017) in the cinema. I became overtly obsessed with the storytelling techniques employed by Christopher Nolan and spent hours poring over behind-the-scenes footage and documentaries as well as cast and crew interviews. I now have the film's poster on display above my bed as a constant reminder of how and why I fell in love with filmmaking in the first place.
What film have you seen the most in your life?
La La Land or The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I love that the festival offers a platform via podcast for the filmmakers lucky enough to have their films screened at the festival, but I also think it would be great to record a simultaneous video interview which could be made available to watch on YouTube - allowing viewers to not only get to know the film, but the filmmaker.
You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experience been working on the festival platform site?
I've enjoyed it so much! I think it's such an incredible platform for up-and-coming filmmakers (like myself) as well as established media professionals. I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to distribute their film, network or build an audience for their work.
What is your favourite meal?
I LOVE anything involving pasta but I'd have to say lasagna! Specifically with lots of broccoli and garlic bread on the side.
What is next for you? A new film?
Alongside working as a freelance videographer, saving up money to fund future projects whilst teaching brands the art of storytelling, I'm currently developing two short screenplays which veer away from my tendency for historical fiction. The first is a romantic comedy following a young couple who coincidentally meet in a supermarket; the second is a coming-of-age drama which takes place on a single, fateful night out in London. I'm hoping to secure funding for these and shoot within the next year.