Emily Haigh, star of The Inuring which was part of our 2017 official programme, is following up her award-winning performance with a new drama she's producing and co-directing. Patron is a social horror in the vein of The Stepford Wives and Get Out. We catch up with Emily while she’s in the middle of running her Indiegogo campaign.
Hello Emily, great to catch up with having screened short film The Inuring at Exit 6 last year. It ended up being an award-winning performance for you. Can you tell us a bit about the film, it’s journey on the festival circuit and what some of the highlights have been?
The Inuring tells the story of Aleisha, a teenage girl who shares the family home with her older sister Claudette. Ever since their Father passed away, the rift between the sisters has grown wider. Eventually, things come to the surface as Aleisha reluctantly opens up about how she’s been left to fend for herself with the local bullies, and the losing battle she’s found herself in. I played the lead, Aleisha and produced it with director, James Hughes. It’s had a successful festival run so far, having picked up a number of awards, I have won the Best Actress Award three times for this role.
You’ve become very proactive in producing and directing the kind of work in which you’d like to perform. What triggered that move in you and how has juggling multiple roles been for?
I’ve always enjoyed writing scripts, in-between auditions I began to develop my writing even more. You need to be pro-active between auditions. I started to create my own opportunities and enjoy writing strong female-centric scripts. I try to write original stories that I haven’t seen before and also like to use film to create messages.
Juggling on set works well when, especially when the team all work well together. I would say it gets a little challenging when I’m in make-up and I have to be away from set, everything is on a stand-still so we have to make sure people know what to prepare for whilst I’m away.
What lessons have you carried into your own directing that you’ve learned from being directed by others?
Lots, I didn’t attend film-school so all my learning has been on set. I think being onset and getting on with it is incredibly important, this applies for all aspects of filmmaking. You need to get onset experience and never stop learning. Some directors are really laid-back and just show you blocking, so when you are acting the character is purely your choice, which is really exciting. Then there are other directors who tell you the beats in the script, this is really nice to have and keeps you on your toes. You have to remember the way you see the character may not be the way the director has and sometimes that is a great thing! Bringing something new can elevate the whole story. So when I direct, I love to listen to how the actors have interpreted the character and then share notes with how I see the character.
You’re currently crowd-funding a new short called Patron on Indiegogo, which you’re co-directing and producing. Can you tell us about the film and who’s involved?
Patron is Get Out meets Twin Peaks. It's the story of an ambitious young woman trying to rise up the corporate ladder only to butt heads with sleazy bosses that aren't interested in her skills or character, just when they think they have the upper hand she unleashes her dark supernatural power and all hell breaks loose! I am working with writer and co-director Alon Young. We have a wonderful team attached, including DOP Beatriz Delgado Mena, who worked on my previous short film Beautified.
What was about this project that appealed to you to get involved as much as you have?
I agreed to read the script and was really impressed by how unique it is. We want to tackle an issue that concerns a lot of people right now but do it in a way that audiences won't expect. MeToo is an issue which has affected both men and women, but Patron will be a female-centric film. The aim is for it to stick in the audience's head long after watching it. It is a subject matter which is finally getting told and relevant in all industries.
How is the campaign going and what is your experience of crowdfunding in general?
It’s going really well. I’ve run two crowdfunding campaigns and the thing that has stuck with me is how people really want the films to do well, they really show an interest. Each supporter who invests in a campaign is just as important as the crew on set, the film wouldn’t get made without them. They are part of the team, every festival selection and win belongs to them as well.
We currently have some great perks available, including our ‘Trinity’ perk which includes an Associate Producers credit. If any of your readers wish to support our film, as a special extra we are offering a Skype session with writer and co-director Alon Young with the ‘Trinity’ perk, please add Ref: Exit6 to your order.
Do you think their own work is something more actors should consider, especially post-drama school?
I think actors should get experience in shorts first, learn the craft on set. Then have a go at making their own, not to become a full-time director, etc., but to understand what happens on the other side of the camera. I feel it helps your performance as you become more aware of the whole film process.
What advice would you give any an actor looking to create their own work for the first time?
Try and be as prepared as you can be and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, as long as you learn from them. Preproduction is so important to any project, don’t leave anything to the last minute and don’t be afraid to approach others in the industry, there are a lot of supportive people out there who want to see great films made.
What’s the best thing about driving your own projects?
It's amazing how much you learn, I love the whole creative process and bringing new characters to life. I have several feature film scripts which I am keen to develop.
Check out the Patron Indiegogo campaign here.
You can follow Emily on Twitter: @Emily_Haigh