FAULT Focus: Director and Actress Kate Hardie introduces her new film “Shoot Me!”

The unapologetic Director and Actress Kate Hardie (The Krays/Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa/Jack and Sarah) introduces her film Shoot Me! (within the London Film Festival 2012). A satirical and very amusing look at the obsession with female appearance and ageing, most interestingly observed via a charity fashion shoot. Hardie researched for her film by observing Rankin for a week and states “I was just amazed by how the studio worked, particularly around him”. Rankin loved the idea so much he also produced the film, which is rather telling as it reveals his sense of humour  about his profession.

What is far more interesting however, is the nature of Kate Hardie herself, who speaks with such authority and eloquence about the importance of being fearless and unapologetic. It is rare to meet those that have such a clear perspective  and are willing to communicate it with conviction  – Shoot Me! for Hardie is a film that is both beautifully hilarious and sensitively serious – I asked her to tell us more:

In one sentence please describe your film

It’s a black comedy about what it feels like to get older as a woman in a very image obsessed world.

It’s incredibly funny with a  primarily light hearted  tongue in cheek approach, particularly for those people that have been to fashion photo shoots and those that reside within them – However  is this a film that you believe is actually a rather serious observation of the industry or did you want to intentionally film it with a comic observational perspective?

I definitely wanted it to be comic, there is a quote that says, ‘‘If you have something serious to say you better be funny!’’ I do have a belief that if you want to look at serious subjects the best way to do it is through comedy; because otherwise you end up being quite preachy so I definitely wanted it to be humorous; but I did go and watch Rankin a lot, he produced the film, and it was quite funny. There is something extraordinary about how a photographer is surrounded by a big strong gang but the person having their picture taken is very on their own. My observation was that, that person is supposed to feel confident, but in fact they look like  they are feeling the most insecure. I’m sure if the connection is right, they forget about all the other people standing around, so that definitely has comic value.

Claire Skinner who is starring in Kate Hardie‘s film – Shoot Me!

My inspiration for this film was actually Claire Skinner, for whom I wrote the part for actually. I talked with Claire a lot, we wanted to write  something about the feelings of getting older in a world obsessed with young faces and imagery and because Rankin was producing, I thought well lets tie it in with the character having her photograph taken. Claire and I talked a lot about shoots we’ve done where we felt awful; there is a point in the film where something goes wrong for the character and that has actually happened to me, so that came from my own experience. So it’s about feeling humiliated physically, so it’s about all of those elements

What was your process for putting the film together and for the research?

It was my own life experience together with Claire and I talking at length about the subject of age within a world concerned with youth. However the biggest piece of research I did and something that I got a lot of the cast involved with, was to go and observe Rankin for a week; I was just amazed by how the studio worked, particularly around him. I asked Paul Andrew Williams who is the director/photographer within the film specifically to watch Rankin at work but I also got him to work with Rankin so that he could get totally immersed and become really good at looking like he was a part of it; it was a brilliant time .

Do you think you had a mission for this film in terms of the serious aspect?

I think in general I want to write films for people, for women, that aren’t patronizing that are not twee and cute; there are a lot of films about getting married or being single, or films that are about women simply being ‘old’ so I’m asking, where is the bit in between? So there is a mission there, I always have a mission of wanting strong female leads, I really want to put women in the centre of the films I’m doing and to make people laugh, laugh and think.

Okay so who are your strong female role models or people that are inspiring for you?

The Danish film director Susan Bier (In a Better World) she is brilliant and also Sophia Coppola’s film Somewhere (2010) I really thought it captured something so lonely and it was actually brave, and actresses like Julie Walters. Also I love fearless feminist writers, I’m very impressed by fearless female writers at the moment because I think you get shot down for it a lot; also female comedians like Jennifer Saunders, Drawn French and Ruby Wax they say things that are serious but whilst being funny and that’s a brilliant combination.

You’ve said something really interesting there, that women will be knocked down quite often when they are being unapologetic and fearless about life – How have you tried  to avoid being attacked for it  or just being able to  continue with your work?

Clumsily I think is the answer; I was brought up by a very radical feminist mum who taught me to fight for things and stand up for things and I think as I was growing up I thought ‘yes I’m going to go out there and yes fight things!’ But then you find out that, actually that’s a very complicated thing, women don’t get much leeway and we have to be very careful; it’s very disappointing and I don’t know whether it’s true but it seems as though passionate men get given a lot more chances than passionate women. So that’s why I think comedy can come in and that’s where you can say something quite heavy and maybe they’ll except it more.

 

This is something you clearly feel strongly about, so in terms of the subject of Shoot Me! The use of digitized photography and the way that naturally always will affect the creative use/exploration within publications – How do you think that will affect artists such as yourself but also the new generation of artists and the work you do?

I don’t know about artists but I think it effects women horribly, there’s a line in the film where Claire’s character says to the photographer  ‘’your images aren’t very real’’ and he says ‘’they’re not meant to be real!’’ and I think that is a big excuse for a lot of photographers,  that ‘oh everyone is doing it’ in the film I have a bit where they’re squeezing the model to make her look taller; I’m quite amazed by that sort of thing; I think it’s very frightening for young women and young men that the images that they are seeing are totally fake.

If this film is being watched by our politicians then what is your message for them

I think it’s to take women seriously, if you look at the way they are treated even within Parliament , I was watching the footage of the Australian female politician recently with the words Misogyny being said over and over again. It was genius.

So Shoot Me! is a dark comedy  about the complex subject of aging. It is a serious subject for a lot of women (and men) so for you what does it mean to be ‘fearless and unapologetic’?

To support yourself. I think women suffer from self-doubt hugely; I think if you’re really going to get out there and be  unapologetic, you’ve got to find a way of believing in yourself, supporting yourself, liking yourself and accepting yourself. Because if you feel ashamed you end up apologizing, so to be unapologetic you’ve got to be unashamed, I say to myself.

What are the things that make you feel positive and powerful?

I think it’s connecting with other people, and watching other people’s work and being inspired, watching other people being unapologetic, watching anybody doing something in their voice it makes you think ‘I’ll give that a go’

Okay so if you had unlimited space/time/resources what is the project you would choose to make?

Probably more stories with Claire Skinner in awful situations and the indignity of getting older, also a feature with women over 40 as the lead that is a black comedy and is sexy and daring. I really admire the Amercian style of putting teams of writers together, that doesn’t happen that much here in the U.K ; also the Danish way Lars Von Trier one minute directs and Thomas Vinterberg writes then they twist it over so I do wish we had film directors interacting much more here.

INTRO AND INTERVIEW BY MARCELLA S KARAMAT
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