Here at CelebMix, we’re always on the hunt for new films which might not have been on our radar before. An example of this is Hurt By Paradise, imagine a Woody Allen film instead made by a mid-twenties female. The film is screaming with female power with a female writer, director and some big female actresses involved. Some of the strong British cast you can expect to see include Nicholas Rowe (Young Sherlock, The Crown), Veronica Clifford (Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets), Anna Brewster (Versailles, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and YouTuber turned actress Tanya Burr among others.
We spoke to Greta Bellamacina (Co-writer and director) of the film;
Hurt By Paradise is set to launch in 2019, can you tell us a bit more about the film?
The film is a kind of London version of “Frances Ha”…an indie comedy about a young single mother writer who I play, called Celeste, and her older babysitter Stella, their creative career failures, and their unexpected friendship. It’s also a visual love letter to London, the mood is something like, if you can imagine, a Woody Allen film if it were made by a 25-year old girl. But then it’s a very British film too, some of our reference points were cult British films like “Withnail & I” and Hanif Kureshi’s “London Kills Me”.
I think a big part of the project was about making a film that explored a cross-generational friendship of two women who sort of live on the fringes of society but find each other. I liked the idea of breaking away from society’s expectations of traditional parenting by having two women who kind of co-parent a child without ever really discussing it. I’ve always been interested in the natural way we find ourselves taking on roles just through instinct. I also wanted to make the film a comedy because I think a big part of life is about laughing about the unexpected and going with the absurd nature of events we often find ourselves in. A reminder of a world of feelings before the curated and perfected polluted our screens.
You’ve got a great cast of British actors; Nicholas Rowe, Veronica Clifford, Tanya Burr, Jaime Winstone, Camilla Rutherford and more in Hurt By Paradise. When you first envisioned the film what kind of actors did you want to feature in the cast?
We were incredibly lucky to have such a talented line up of actors agree to be in the film. I tend to let the actors put their own interpretation onto the characters before directing them because usually that way you find the comedy and the absurd with out putting too much pressure on finding it. We knew quite early on that we wanted to work with British character actors as a way to pull away from the mundanity of certain situations and give the audience some comedy relief. A lot of British indie films can tend towards dealing with things in a quite heavy way. I wanted a lightness, I think laughter is the best therapy.
I also wanted to work with a mix of non-actors to play roles to add a kind of London realism that I think is sometimes missing when making films about London. For instance, we cast punk musician Bruno Wizard to the play the online lover and my co-writer Sadie Brown as Stella to keep a realism that I really wanted.
Do you think you’re more like Celeste or Stella?
As a character I could definitely relate to Celeste’s struggles of trying to survive in London as poet and mother, especially as London has become so expensive. I was born in London and have seen the city slowly become a quietly more and more disconnected to the people who live in it. There is a whole family of homeless refugees who sleep underneath the BT Tower every night beside our apartment, and that breaks my heart. I wanted to show a slightly melancholic picture of the streets of London. We live right in the centre of London it’s so inspiring to be around so much history but also their is a kind of coldness to the place which is really noticeable when you see people desperately living on the edge. I think it was important for me that the poetry really became a kind of subconscious soundtrack to the film which made the audience feel closer to my character, and I wanted to show that poetry really is a powerful and contemporary art form that is innately within us, and isn’t boring.
The film is written and directed by a female, with strong female leads. What has your experience in the film industry been like as a female?
I think because I started making films as an actress from a young age it felt almost like a natural progression to direct as well as act. Especially because it is a story I’d co-written and I felt it was my story to share. At drama school, I was always writing scripts in my spare time and getting my classmates to perform them on the weekends. I’ve found it quite frustrating as an actress with the limited roles women are meant to portray, but I do think the times are changing and there is so much new talent breaking though.
I also wanted to make sure the crew where as collaborative as possible so that ultimately everyone was a part of the creative process. I wanted to take away the strict hierarchy I’ve experienced on sets in the past, that was really important to me, and I think this really helped me take on both roles and really let the technical people have creative engagement input with what we were doing, our main approach was to respect everyone’s input and make the crew feel they could all speak up and feed in. Also having my husband, the artist Robert Montgomery, work closely on the film with me made me feel at ease. He could make decisions looking at the monitor whilst I was performing. I feel we worked the way I imagine John Casavettes and Gena Rowlands did when they made films together. I love that idea of a creative romantic relationship and making art with the person you love.
Currently Hurt By Paradise is in post-production, what stage are you currently at and do you have a provisional release date?
We have are currently finishing the final post-production editing and aiming to have the film ready for cinema release in summer 2019.
We can’t wait for Hurt By Paradise and will be definitely be checking it out when it hits the cinema next year. Keep your eyes peeled for a review of it incase you need any more reasons to check it out!
Will you be heading to the cinema to see Hurt By Paradise? Tweet us @CelebMix to share your thoughts.