Above: A shot from the set and the production’s crowdfunding video on IndieGoGo.
The Betrayal is a thriller addressing issues of domestic violence and digital abuse that is currently crowdfunding to complete its final phase of production. Mog Kavanagh caught up with the directors Kamila Dydna and Natasha Waugh to ask them a few questions about it.
The film touches on themes of gender based violence, online shaming and LGBT relationships, what drew you to this subject matter?
Kamila Dydna: I’ve always been drawn to themes of gender based and domestic violence. Partly because I grew up watching my parents’ rather violent relationship (physical & emotional abuse) but also because exploring such themes allows me to deepen my understanding of them. For lack of a better word, I’m fascinated by the origins of violence in relationships. Ultimately, by telling stories featuring violence, be it as a writer, director, producer or actress, I aim to inspire others to help prevent it.
The digital abuse and LGBT matters are more recent objects of artistic exploration. Raising awareness of these problems through my films is my way of activism, I guess. It’s something that prevents me from feeling powerless in the face of such problems.
NW: Anything to do with gender equality is hugely important to me as a feminist, so for me its important that society talks openly about every aspect of it. I liked how the screenplay was dealing with women’s rights, whilst also discussing other important, LGBT related issues, so I jumped at the chance to be a part of a film that could open a dialogue on all of these things.
The film was shot over six days, that must have been intense! How did you find that experience?
Natasha Waugh: Despite the fact the production was done on micro-budget and all of our crew and cast volunteered their time, the shoot was incredibly well organised, professional and efficient. It’s credit to the amazing team I had the privilege to work with. I can’t praise and recommend them highly enough.
Lots of planning went into the shoot which also helped. We spent weeks and days together preparing a shotlist, discussing potential problems and preparing for them, location scouting, rehearsing etc. It was wonderful team work.
NW: The six day shoot was intense at times, yes, but it was broken up over two weekends, rather than six straight days so it was nicely paced. It was a fantastic experience; the crew were so talented, and passionate. It was a pleasure to be able to work with them.
It was hard work all the same, guiding such a complex project through principal photography, but we knew what we wanted. It is always hugely fulfilling watching your film come together, and seeing words on the page of a script come to life.
The Betrayal was no different, and over six days, with the investment that we had for the project, it became both a creative and an emotional experience.
You’re currently funding on Indiegogo, how have you been finding the funding process?
KD: It’s challenging. On a good day, it’s empowering and joyful and makes you want to hug strangers on the streets. On a bad day, it makes you want to crawl into a deep, deep, deep hole and never come out.
There are so many campaigns out there that it’s easy for your message to get lost in the noise. Last year I successfully crowdfunded my debut short Testimony and I set out crowdfunding for The Betrayal with a confident spirit, after all, the film’s themes can appeal to many different interest groups. While the amount of support we received from friends, strangers and media was incomparably bigger than say for Testimony, we’re only at 57% of our funding target with three days to go.
That is not to say I’m not incredibly grateful for all the contributions received so far! €3700 is a lot of money for an indie film and will go a long way to helping us complete the film.
Interestingly – as a side note – despite the film being very much female-driven and female-oriented, it’s men who contributed more. I find this statistic incredibly encouraging and a good sign for the future of gender inequality in media!
NW: I think its been a bit of an uphill battle, but the money is trickling in. Its difficult to tap your crowd when you’ve crowdfunded before, so finding potential investors, and convincing them that its worth their while contributing is always tricky, but we’re getting there. Its all thanks to Kamila’s hard work that the money is coming in at all.
You’ve gained support in the form of a Partnership With DCU-based Sexuality Studies Researchers & D-Light Studios Dublin, what does this mean for the film?
NW: I think both partnerships are going to be great for the film’s exposure and production value, which is vital when you’re an indie short filmmaker! It also gives the film a lot of weight. The DCU partnership will give our film great legitimacy as a serious project that genuinely examines these issues, rather than it seeming like it has a superficial approach as a film.
KD: It definitely helps us raise the profile of the film. We’re serious about this project and it’s not just a fun way of spending our time. It’s great to have it recognised and supported by established artists and academics.
The partnership with D-Light also allowed us to film there, which was just glorious for me as a writer. I can’t think of a place that would fit my vision more perfectly so it was amazing to be able to use their unique space (150-year-old woollen mill/ warehouse) in The Betrayal.
It’s also wonderful to feel our love for D-Light is returned, artistically speaking. Stace Gill, the Studios Manager, says: “A project that creatively addresses the ever evolving social attitudes and issues concerning gender equality, fluidity and freedom is an easy partnership for us to make.”
Do you think last years Marriage Referendum has had an impact on making LGBT film in Ireland?
NW: I like to think so. I think the referendum has definitely made LGBT culture become part of Ireland’s identity, so I do think its going to help create interest in these kinds of stories.
KD: Yes. Definitely. I feel like it opened floodgates – in the the best way possible. Just one example of this is Queen of Ireland – I just love how this film has been embraced and appreciated.
There has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about under-representation of women in the film industry, do you have any advice for women looking to make films in Ireland?
KD: Don’t apologise. Don’t be afraid. Find collaborators of both genders who respect you and whom you can respect. Work together with men to change this trend, not against them. I’m feeling good about this subject as I’m writing this, looking at the trend in my own crowdfunding campaign where men are so generous with their support. But I’ve also experienced being patronised on sets, being ignored and talked down to just because I’m a woman. I can only guess male ego / power trips stem from their insecurity in dealing with an intelligent woman who has something to say, who has a clear vision and knows what she wants. It makes me appreciate even more the collaborative, great men I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I guess the last piece of advice I have is – develop thick skin!
NW: I’m still trying to find out the best way to approach the gender equality issue myself. It can be really disheartening, but I know talking and working with other filmmakers who are women has really encouraged me.
My advice would be to talk to women who work in the industry and see what their experience has been, good or bad! We’re fighting the fight, and have a long way to go but its not all bad. There is plenty of positive discussion happening on this at the moment. Its a good time to try and turn a negative into a positive, so be part of change, be vocal, and proactive.
If you have a spare bit of cash why not head over and throw something in the bucket?