By David Pountain
Based on the 2011 short film of the same name, Cat Skin from British director Daniel Grasskamp is an understated tale of young love between an introverted photography student named Cat (Jodie Hirst) and a warmly outgoing music student named April (Faye Sewell). Their slowly budding relationship is almost immediately met with opposition, most notably from April’s disapproving mother and possessive ex-boyfriend, pulling the two leads into a conflict between what they want and what’s expected of them.
We speak to actress Faye Sewell who discusses her role in the upcoming coming-of-age drama.
In your own words, how would you describe the character of April?
April to me is a complex individual – there are a lot of conflicting forces in her life that have had an impact on who she is and a large part of her journey in the film is noticing them for the first time and pushing back to discover who she is and what she wants from life. It was a really interesting journey to take her on.
Overall, she’s quite innocent and a little naïve which I found endearing – and she can be very conversationally direct too, something I found fun to play with. She’s very open and friendly and on the surface very confident but underneath sometimes not as sure as she seems about things. I feel she has a mischievous streak but is very goodhearted.
What made you want to get involved in Daniel Grasskamp’s film?
First up – the script. I was completely drawn in from the moment I opened it and I read it all in one sitting and knew I really wanted to be a part of bringing the story to life. I felt it was a film that needed to be made, that was meaningful and heartfelt – and it was a personal thing to me and a privilege to have the chance to be a part of it.
The film is often is often quite sparing in its dialogue. Did you feel you had to communicate at least as much with your face as with your words?
Absolutely, yes. There were a lot of scenes I felt were about what wasn’t said out loud, and moments where dynamics shifted and new feelings emerged that are best communicated without words.
How did you find working with co-star Jodie Hirst? Did the two of you connect much on set?
Working with Jodie was an absolute joy. It really was amazing from start to finish. She is such a supportive, warm and selfless actor to work with and I think that was crucial for the chemistry between our characters. We had a lot of fun – on and off-set – to keep our energy up and we were there for each other when things got serious too, because we both believed totally and completely in the work we were doing.
Is there any specific message that you hope viewers – particularly younger viewers – might take away from this film?
I hope that the film will move people and that it will resonate, that it might change or offer different perspectives to some people – and when it comes to younger viewers, that they could relate to the characters and find inspiration or comfort and representation in them.
Are you involved in anything new at the moment?
I’m currently shooting a feature film called Three Dots and a Dash, a crime comedy set in London in which I play a character called Nadia, who is both an actor and a bartender.
On my days off I’m also working on my third novel and trying to get that finished!
Cat Skin premieres Sunday 23rd April at the MiFo LGBT Film Festival in Miami. Find more info here.