Her haunting style is impossible to ignore, and has led her to work with the likes of Film4, Sony Music and Atlantic Records as well as an impressive collection of awards under her belt. It’s no surprise that Prano Bailey-Bond has been named “one to watch”, but what is the reality of being a female director?
Nasty has currently been selected for over 90 festivals worldwide and counting. What have been some of the highlights and what do you see next for the project?
Prano Bailey-Bond: It’s always a bit nerve racking when you start sending a short out to festivals – you’ve worked your arse off and created something you love, but the next test is are other people going to love it too? Will festivals want to screen it? Will it find an audience? You have an idea of who your audience might be, but particularly with Nasty, I didn’t know how it would be received abroad as its story, or backdrop, is so rooted in British history.
What’s been brilliant is that it’s been so well received internationally, and it’s led me to stories of censorship in other countries too. It’s great that people have connected with it globally. Starting our festival journey at the BFI London Film Festival was the first highlight, then Slamdance and Woodstock in the US and Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia.
We’ve picked up a number of awards, including Best Short Film at Stranger With My Face Film Festival, which is one of the best-named festivals in my opinion and promotes female filmmakers in horror. Etheria Film Night and Scream Queen Tokyo have also been incredible pioneers of the film, and from these festivals I feel connected to a growing global community of women working in the genre.
More recently Nasty was long-listed for a BIFA and has been named one of the Top 25 horror shorts of 2016 by Fright Meter Awards. We recently screened with The Evil Dead at Shivers Film Festival. Sam Raimi‘s film had been banned there for 32 years until this August, so it was a really special screening – and perfect for Nasty to screen with as that film has inspired me so much.
In terms of what happens next, we’re touring with Scream Queen in Japan and are looking into opportunities to broadcast the short whilst we finish our festival run. Then we plan to put the film online and will have info about that on our Facebook and twitter pages. As we crowdfunded the short it’s important to me that we make it available for everyone who has supported the film. Without them it would never have happened.
Can you tell us more about the concept behind Nasty?
PBB: Nasty is set in the early 80’s against the backdrop of the video nasty social hysteria that happened when VHS first became available in the home. There was no censorship in place to deal with films that went straight to VHS, and a boom in low budget VHS horror ensued.
The Daily Mail and other papers were convinced that this would turn society into monsters, and in many ways I sought to satirise this idea in Nasty. The main story centres around a little boy called Doug whose Dad goes missing, and in searching for clues as to his Dad’s whereabouts, Doug discovers a secret collection of video nasties (VHS horror). This kind of opens up a whole new world for Doug, where he attempts to reunite his family through this patchwork of horror.
Your hilarious short Shortcut was featured as part of the Film4 Fright Bites series. What other projects have you currently got going on?
It’s a modern fable of revenge in which a bad boyfriend gets his comeuppance. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were some incredibly unique conversations had in preparing for this film. I worked on it with some brilliant people – Danny Devall, who plays the lead, producer Fiona Lamptey, Ness Whyte our DOP, Adam Gough editing and Dan Martin on Special Effects. Ha – I feel like I’m introducing “my band” while we’re doing the instrumental section of a gig!!
In terms of other projects, I have two feature films in development, both supported by Ffilm Cymru Wales. One of those is Censor, which is connected to Nastyand I’m writing that with Anthony Fletcher who I’ve made a number of shorts with.
I’ve also just had a project selected for Ffilm Cymru Wales’ development and production scheme Cinematic, which is very exciting. That film is Crazy Bitch and I’m working with writer Emma Millions on that. Both features are being produced by Helen Jones at Silver Salt Films.
I’m also developing some short films and would really like to do some more off-the-cuff, crazy work like some of my earlier promos Poltergeist and Steak Love. It’s harder to find time for things like that lately, but I really value the importance of making things I can experiment with a bit.
Women are still heavily underrepresented in film. As such a successful female director, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
PBB: Directors UK put it really well in their recent report when they discussed the ‘unconscious gender bias’ towards male directors. Women have to work twice as hard as men in this industry to get noticed.
I think it’s because the industry has become ‘used to’ seeing men in certain roles, so a less experienced male director could easily get a job over a more experienced female director, and that is at once ridiculous and frustrating. One of the things I’ve noticed is that people who don’t know me can often be surprised when I say I’m a director – they expect me to say I’m a producer or an actress or something, and I’ve become numbed to that slight look of surprise when they hear I’m a director. Then after they see my work there’s often another phase of surprise when they realize that I can actually make good films too.
It’s like a part of people’s brains that just invisibilise women as filmmakers, and that’s been ingrained in cultural history sadly and needs undoing fast. I don’t think anyone realises they’re doing it, but people just don’t give women enough credit. Women have always made films.
It’s literally a ridiculous idea that a woman is any less capable of making a film than a man – I really don’t understand how that makes any sense! I’ve never experienced any issues on set or whilst making films myself. I think that’s because I work with people who trust me and who I trust – we share a mutual respect and that works.
I think the way I overcome challenges is by making good films and being sure of my own ability, and also by championing fellow female filmmakers. The more women seen to be making films, the more normal it will become in the eyes of the world. And there are a lot of women making really amazing films; it’s very exciting.
Underwire Film Festival is one of the only UK film festivals focusing on promoting women’s work. Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with the festival?
PBB: Yes – I’m on the advisory board for this wonderful film festival, which celebrates female practitioners working across the different crafts, so the festival nominates and awards women for Best Production Design, Best Editing etc… Underwire has been part of my life for a number of years now – in 2011 Annika Summerson won Best Cinematography for our music video House.
I won Best Editor there in 2012 for a documentary I cut called Unravel, directed by Meghna Gupta. And in 2013 I won Best Director for The Trip. Meghna Gupta and Helen Mullane got an Honorary Mention for the Best Producer award for Nasty there too in 2015. I felt like I’d been a bit greedy on the awards front, so when I was invited to join the advisory board it felt like a great way to become more involved in the festival in another capacity.
I’ve been part of the selection and programming process for the 2016 edition of the festival, which has just taken place. It’s grown a lot this year, becoming a BAFTA qualifier and spreading across some great venues including the BFI, Barbican, Prince Charles Cinema and Genesis Cinema – basically the best cinema venues in London.
I met some brilliant filmmakers there this year – it’s a fantastic festival to be involved with. At the heart of it is a genuine desire to promote female filmmakers, so if you’re a female practitioner, or have worked with female crew or cast, or have written a great female character, then you should look into submitting to the next edition of the festival.
Are there any other groups or committee’s of women working in film that you are involved with?
PBB: Yes – I’m a member of a UK collective of women directors called Cinesisters, which has stemmed from Film Fatales in the US. It’s a network of female directors who support, mentor and share resources with each other – it’s a fantastic pool of talent.
There’s also illuminatrix, which is a collective of female DoP’s based in London. Their group includes Natasha Braier who shot The Neon Demon, Annika Summerson who shot Nasty, Vanessa Whyte who shot my Film4 short Shortcut and Susanne Salavati who shot three-time BIFA nominated My Feral Heart, to name a few. They are very talented crafts people.
You have two features in development with Ffilm Cymru Wales. Can we expect more horror or have you gone down a different route for the feature?
PBB: My feature Censor is very much in line with Nasty, a thriller/horror in a similar vein. There will be more horror in the feature than there has been in the short. We are writing at the moment and it’s so much fun to write this film – I’m very excited about it.
My other feature is a psychological horror called Crazy Bitch – it’s more haunting than Censor and will get under its audience’s skin in a different way. Both projects are allowing me to sink my teeth into subjects that I feel incredibly passionate about. I’m really looking forward to having an audience to entertain for 90 minutes – to really be able to spend time with the characters and take our audience on a longer cinema experience.
Are you as excited as we are for Prano Bailey-Bond’s upcoming projects as we are? Why not whet your appetite with the Nasty trailer below? To keep up to date with Nasty’s journey, follow on the film’s Facebook and Twitter profiles!