Can you tell me about your current project?
I am producing a short film called ‘Honest Lies’ about a woman working as a prostitute who meets with the wife of a client. It is based on an original short story written by a woman previously involved in prostitution who attends fortnightly writing workshops that I deliver at Eaves for Women.
What do you hope this project will achieve?
Whilst I will be organising some screenings, my bigger aim is to enter the film into a number of festivals in the hope it can be screened around the UK and Europe. By having a stereotype-defying portrayal of a woman involved in prostitution at its core, I hope that widespread showings of the film can facilitate long overdue discussions about the subject. It is crucial that the voices of those with firsthand experience are heard, so that the realities of prostitution are more clearly understood, and those wishing to exit are supported in doing so safely.
Who is the target audience?
There will be a special screening held for activists, press, and charity organisations; however, the target audience is festival filmgoers. By being 100% crowd-funded, this film demonstrates that audiences do care about the stories of women behind the ‘happy hooker’ myth, and it is important that this subject matter is represented in a truthful and compassionate way. By screening this film at festivals to members of the industry, I hope to prove that there are alternative ways of portraying these stories, and indeed of representing women.
What message do you want the audience to take away with them?
I strongly believe that film is one of the most powerful tools for communication, and when iconic images stand in for real-world complexity this can reduce anything to stereotype. So much so that prostitution is all too frequently romanticised as in ‘Pretty Woman’, or demonised as in ’Monster’.
Obviously the reasons and issues involved in prostitution are as individual as the people themselves, and the simplification (and inaccuracy) of film portrayals, is something I have always felt can be dangerous.
My ideal reaction to ‘Honest Lies’ would be for the audience to think compassionately about anyone involved with prostitution; understanding that what constitutes ‘choice’ is vastly different for so many. If beyond that the film compels anyone to support those exiting prostitution in whatever way they feel able, from campaigning, to fundraising, to volunteering, to donating what they can to the charity organisations, I would be delighted!
What stage is the project at now?
There is a Kickstarter campaign to raise the full budget of £2000 that ends on 28th July. After the first week generous friends and supporters pledged over half the budget, so I’m very optimistic that we’ll reach the target. Anything over £2000 will go towards actually paying those people who are giving their time to make the film, as well as to paying for festival submission fees.
The Director, DOP, Lead Actors and myself have already met on several occasions, and the pre-production meetings are becoming more frequent as we head towards our principal day of filming on Sunday 28th July.
Are you looking for people to be involved?
Anyone who would like to help with getting the film made can pledge any amount via Kickstarter. There are a number of different rewards for supporters, including a thank you in the credits, copies of the film on DVD, tickets to the first public screening and panel discussion, and more.
The main priority once the film is complete and screenings are lined up will be maximum coverage in industry and mainstream press: any handy tips or contacts, or offers of help from journalists will always be extremely welcome!
What are your plans for the future?
The short answer is: to keep writing, teaching, and dabbling in producing!
A prize unique to the UnderWire Festival (of which I am co-founder) is the XX Award, which addresses the lack of variety and authenticity in female characters appearing on our screens, and it is crucial to me that I address this at all times within my own work. As a writer, I seek out stories that will alter perception through simplicity and humanity, and which are concerned with social justice. Adapting this story into a screenplay has been a humbling experience, and I have learned a great deal about negotiating the nuances of screen language to ensure the subtleties of prose translate into script.
Meanwhile, being part of facilitating self-expression through writing is a gift; having the opportunity to see the growth in confidence of those who have never previously written is an extraordinary privilege, and the very reason I wanted to teach in the first place. Running the workshops at Eaves is the thing I am proudest of in my life.
This project has enabled me to bring together what I am most passionate about, and has proved to me it is possible to incorporate all of these elements into one piece of work, so I hope to pursue similar themes and stories.
Where can people find out more about your project?
The Kickstarter link is here: www.kickstarter.com/projects/19446085/honest-lies
The Facebook page is here: www.facebook.com/honestliesfilm
There is also an article I wrote for Chris Jones’ blog (author of Guerilla Filmmakers’ Handbook and Director of the London Screenwriters Festival): www.chrisjonesblog.com/2013/07/screewnriter-and-lsfer-gabriella-apicella-on-her-project-honest-lies.html
Recommended websites/further reading:
The charity organisation where I hold the writing classes is Eaves for Women – you can support them via their website: www.eavesforwomen.org.uk
More about me and my work is available on my website: www.gabriellaapicella.com
UnderWire Festival: www.underwirefestival.com