Amidst intoxicated nights and sobering days, Emily Iason’s Blood and Water evokes a fundamental need for care and intimacy, and how this need can inspire intelligent people to do reckless things. The short film opens with British student Flo (Florence Bell) part of the way into a drunken evening and ends in much the same manner but, in between, the consequences of Flo’s pursuit of one of her professors (Kathleen Wise) provoke a pivotal shift in the young woman’s perspective.
With Blood and Water featuring on the New Queer Visions shorts compilation, Lust in Translation, we spoke to writer-director Emily Iason about this affecting, emotionally perceptive film.
What, to you, is the meaning behind the film’s title?
Generally, I never intended to not get too literal with it and just wanted to allow the audience to find their own interpretations. To me, Blood and Water represents the difference between a more raw, primal, id-driven way of moving through the world (blood) versus a more enlightened and wiser way of being (water). Flo acts on her gut instincts and her primal desires while her teacher, Alex, is much more cautious and probably has much clearer insight into why she wants certain things and what consequences will come if she acts on those wants. One is not necessarily better than the other.
How did Florence first get involved in the project, and was the character always called Flo?
I had met Florence briefly through a good friend at a screening and I knew immediately I wanted to work with her. So from the very first moment I conceived of this character she seemed perfect for Flo and I knew I wanted Flo to play her. I wrote the script with her in mind so it made sense to name her Flo. Florence is amazing. She’s a very raw actor and her performances are always so unrelentingly genuine and truthful. I can’t wait to work with her again. I’m forever trying to convince her to move to New York.
Did you draw from any personal experiences to make this film?
Absolutely. While Flo’s story is not specifically my own experience, her emotional journey was pulled from my own. There was a time when I think I was behaving recklessly without really thinking about consequences for others or for myself. Maybe it was a sort of second, pre-adulthood adolescence, which I think is what Flo is going through in the movie. I wanted to create one, very brief, incident that leads to a big change for the character. That’s what that final scene in the bar is for Flo – it’s the moment she goes back to her previous world and realizes “oh this isn’t going to do it for me anymore.”
The film makes a reference to insect behavior and the purely primal nature of their choices. Do you feel that people are inherently the same in how they make decisions?
No, but they can be. Many people do act out of their primal nature which can be good in some aspects of life for sure, but can come with heavy consequences in others. Maybe there’s a healthy balance, maybe not. I’m still figuring that out. But as far as this film goes, I think that while there’s honesty in Flo’s choices, she might also cause some destruction in her wake. In the end, she realizes it’s probably not the way to go.
Are there any moments or scenes from Blood and Water that you are particularly proud of?
I particularly love the tension, awkwardness and intimacy between Flo and Kathleen when they’re in the kitchen at the party. It’s tender and uncomfortable in a way I really love to see. I also like the moment when Flo watches Kathleen from across the room as she finds blood on her hands. It makes me cringe. P.S. There was no intentional pun or connection made between the character name Flo and the menstrual blood moment. But that’s hilarious and fun so we can pretend it’s purposeful.
Do you believe that there’s any optimism to Flo’s story or is she stuck in this lonely emotional cycle?
I do believe there’s optimism in Flo’s story. She just needs to grow up a little and good things will come her way. However, those types of behaviors are easy to fall back on, like any comforting habit. Maybe after Flo’s realization she relapses into destructive behavior again a few times but then eventually makes her way out of it!
Have you been working on any other projects since this film?
I’m in development for my next movie. I don’t want to say too much because I’m positive I’ll jinx it if I say it out loud but it’ll take place in the Arizona desert. The main character is a young woman training to be a correctional officer at a prison.
I’m also producing a feature by Bo McGuire called Alabama Snipe Fight. It’s a wonderful drama with moments of humor, heartbreak, glitter, fantasy and drag throughout. As well as in post for a series I made with my girlfriend, Rachel Puchkoff, (she’s writer/director/lead) called Expecto Patron. It will be released early 2017. It’s about a Brooklyn-based aspiring avant-garde DJ with hypochondria who realizes she’s a wizard.