Kate Lane’s feature debut Fear of Water is a meeting of two distinct social classes via the relationship of the naïve and sheltered Eleanor (Chloe Partridge) and the bolder, working class Alexia (Lily Loveless). Within the serene environment of their lakeside meeting place, the two leads grow ever closer over the course of one summer while dealing with their own dramas in their respective families.
Speaking to FilmDoo, director Kate Lane tells us how this new work came to be.
You’ve said that the story was inspired by events in your own life. What was it like collaborating with writer Edward Davenport to put this personal experience into a script?
It was a hugely rewarding and creative experience. We would meet once a week ongoing for a year and I would talk to him about my life, specifically the relationship I had which the film was based on. It felt like a very intimate journey that evolved very organically by being really open and honest. Eddy has a natural passion and talent for writing female characters which is rare and the reason why I wanted to work with him on this. He would go away and write up some dialogue and then we would meet exchanging ideas back and forth. At that time there was no time pressure or financial pressure so it was immensely enjoyable seeing the story evolve week to week and I think I benefited from having an objective perspective as well as my own first-hand experience.
Is there any specific message or idea about class relations you were hoping to convey with this film?
We wanted to have that underlying tension of class difference and the clashes that occur but wanted to ultimately say that, in the end, people want the same thing and all these judgments on where a person has come from don’t define who we are and where we end up. Both girls had completely different conflicts in their life but suffered from the same emotion of loneliness and the feeling that they didn’t fit in. The class difference is there but not the forefront.
What was it like working with Chloe Partridge and Lily Loveless? Did a lot of preparation go into the onscreen chemistry that we see between them or was it something largely organic?
Unfortunately we didn’t have the luxury of rehearsal time so to start with, we held a screen test with Lily and had three different actors meet her and spend an hour or so each. I created some improv games and by the end of the day it became very clear which two girls had the best chemistry and potential going forwards. When we went into production I had Lily and Chloe both stay at my home so they could spend as much time together as possible. This helped hugely and I definitely feel as the shoot went on their performances improved the more everyone bonded and the more trust that was established. Luckily they both got on really well! I’ve always been an actor’s director so working with them, getting to know them as people and trying to draw out their best was a fantastic experience.
Are there any filmmakers or artists that you can single out as creative influences for your work?
I started making short films when I was 14 and this was largely down to Robert Rodriquez and his book Rebel Without a Crew. He really inspired me to learn how to self-shoot at an early age and just to get out there and start doing it. In terms of style, I grew up loving Christopher Nolan films as I loved his use of non-linear narrative and neo noir style. Right now I’m following a lot of what Ava DuVernay does and Andrea Arnold as their work is so character-driven and intimate, which is the type of films I want to make. There are a lot of varied painters and photographers I like too which are becoming more influential for my next projects in terms of communicating the style and tone to support the story.
The film was made through your own production company, KL Dream Pictures. Do you consider it important to your work that your filmmaking remains truly independent?
Yes, definitely. Through Fear of Water I’ve been able to really learn how the business side works, especially sales and distribution, and this has definitely cemented my view of staying independent. I would prefer to make films for less money with more restrictions in place as it forces you to be much more creative and to really take risks and keep it as art-making. For me, the story is priority and money can’t buy a good story. I also love the idea of making films and then delivering them direct to my audience. It’s great to know who’s seeing the film and have that personal relationship with them.
Are you involved in anything new at the moment?
I’m working with Eddy – the same writer who did Fear of Water – on our next feature. So far we have the script in a good place, still rewriting as that never truly stops! But we’re beginning to approach potential actors now. This one is again very female driven but is a psychological drama so it’s a lot darker and one that I really want to push the boundaries with through the characters and how we tell the story visually.