Giles chatted with Lucy Brydon, writer and director of the beautiful film Body of Water. The film follows the story of Stephanie, a woman with an eating disorder, and her relationship with her teenage daughter and her mum. 

Lucy, who had battled eating issues in her 20’s was “really interested in writing about a character that has anorexia.” Lucy said that anorexia “overshadowed a lot of that decade of my life”, and so she wanted to share her experience with an audience.

“I sort of started to tap into the themes that I keep coming back to. It’s usually stuff about the body and female sort of sexuality and identity and things like that.”

“A lot of people involved in Body of Water were quite invested because it was a tough subject. So a lot of them had some sort of connection or knew someone that had had some sort of eating issue – it was something that was close to a lot of the people working on it.”

While living in Shanghai, Lucy experimented with directing short films, but soon discovered that she didn’t enjoy the experience of working with other people’s work.

“I always knew that I was fundamentally not someone that just wants to sit and interpret other people’s things or write about other people’s work.”

From Film Festival to Film London

Lucy originally wrote Body of Water as a short film, but continued to develop the story. “We were all set to make the short. I always love to write and as an exercise had written a screenplay, really for myself ,and had actually developed it through this lab in Edinburgh, at the Edinburgh Film Festival called The Network.”

After a bit of mentoring, Lucy and her producer decided to apply to Film London’s feature programme Microwave. They figured that “if it gets in great. And if it doesn’t, we can go and make the short version and it’s all good.” They were chosen!

For the films that are selected “they give you a sort of boot camp training week, which was really great. We met some really great mentors, like Lynne Ramsay and Jim Wilson who worked with Jonathan Glazer a lot, and like some really high-caliber people. And they were really inspiring.”

Lynne “started pointing me at some really interesting references, like Safe by Todd Haynes, which ends up being a useful reference later on, I hadn’t seen that film. But that definitely inspired some of the thinking processes I went through, and sort of imagining the film.”

After then “you kind of had to present the film again to this panel of people who were involved in funding. So it was BBC, BFI and Film London and then they whittled the projects down to six projects and then they develop them for a bit longer.”

The six remaining projects had to present their scripts for a final time, and had to re-pitch them to the panel.

“We got commissioned along with another film called Looted, which is actually just coming out about a month after Body of Water.”

Re-Developing the Script

She then developed and worked on the script with script editor Angeli Macfarlane.

“There’s a lot of work on the script and as a first time feature maker, it’s scary. And there’s a lot of you don’t know what you’re doing or you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, and then you get notes.” And then you need to start “digesting those and implementing them and, and finding out what’s useful in them can be quite a process in itself.” 

“You can’t write a script to please people or by committee.” 

And while Lucy enjoyed getting ideas and feedback on the script, she found the process was at times tiring and frustrating.

“I’m really open to ideas and rewriting, but I did get quite exhausted with that side of the process because I felt like sometimes in late development, I was just changing things for the sake of it.

“You have the script and then you go to all the different places you could possibly go. And often you end up quite similarly with what you started with, because it just is as though your imagination has to go on that kind of journey, or other people have to go on that journey with you, to make sure that you’ve exhausted all the possible things. But then often your first early instincts are kind of right.”

“I always knew the story was about a woman who just was sort of giving up and that to me was like actually a really important experience.”

If you would like to hear more about Lucy’s amazing film Body of Water and her experience writing and directing the film, then have a listen to our The Filmmaker’s Podcast with her.

You can find Lucy Brydon on Instagram and Twitter and Body of Water on Instagram.

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