Your new movie A Hymn
for Her - in a few words, what is it about?
about an ageing starlet, Rosemary De Souza, who is lamenting to herself
and to the audience, how she has become invisible to society as she’s
how did the project come into being in the first place?
written the script a while ago, I’d had the idea of writing something
that was mainly to camera and I wanted to do a horror. I wrote and
directed a horror – The Ballad of a Haunted Man – in 2017 which had a
male protagonist and I was keen to write one for a female lead. I’d had
a couple of films do well at The Misty Moon International Film
and Stuart Morriss and I had spoken about me directing something for Misty
Moon. Stuart asked if I had a script myself, so I sent him A
Hymn for Her. I’d met Linda Marlowe at Misty Moon and had her in mind when
writing it – and Stuart also suggested Linda so our vision for the film
was very similar right from the start.
were your sources of inspiration when writing A
Hymn for Her?
said to me years ago that she felt invisible now she was older. I thought
there was a story – many stories – in that. I also liked the idea that
being ‘invisible’ can have it advantages.
did an MA in TV Scriptwriting and was writing a shadow script of Jimmy
McGovern’s Accused. I reached out to Isabelle Grey, who had co-written
an episode with Jimmy, to ask for advice. She said Jimmy looks at the
situation his protagonist is in and thinks ‘how can I make this worse’
and he keeps asking and keeps asking. So when writing horror, I do the
same: I constantly think ‘how I can make it worse’, or ‘how I can
add another level or another twist?’
At least to me, A
Hymn for Her is above all a highly ironic movie - would you at all
agree, and if so could you elaborate?
agree. Using irony, or ironic situations, is one way of getting a message
over without sounding like you’re preaching. And you can certainly apply
dramatic irony to Jake’s situation, who bumps into Rosemary and
doesn’t apologise! I think the use of humour in unfunny situations, when
done properly, can be very effective. I wanted there to be light and
shade. The actual truth of the film is a sad one – she’s lonely,
frustrated and ignored, and her reaction to that is pretty brutal. Her
honesty and vulnerability when she tells the audience ‘it hurts’ is
really sad. If the whole film had been pitched to that tone, it would be a
pretty bleak watch.
What can you tell
us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
have a very clear idea of how I think my scripts can translate to screen,
which is why I like to direct what I write. From the pre-production stage,
I know what I want it to look like so creating the set, scouting
locations, sourcing the right props etc is all vital.
favour a strong collaborative approach, talking to actors about their
character and how they see them, and for them to feel free to interpret
the script. Also, for the DOP and/or AD to also have idea of what may or
may not work. I’ve been lucky in that so far I’ve worked with people
who can see what I’m envisaging and have helped me get there.
Hymn for Her stars veteran actress Linda Marlowe - now what was it
like working with her, and how did you get her even?
knows Linda and approached her with the script – and she said yes. I
always find it fascinating watching actors say my words. I watch my final
films and these magnificent performances and think ‘I can’t believe I
wrote this.’ And A
Hymn for Her is no exception. It was an
absolute pleasure to watch Linda encapsulate Rosemary so brilliantly and
switch from humour to pathos to horror with such expert skill.
talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
Drew Honey was also expertly cast by Stuart. He played the part of Jake
with such an experienced ease. I’d watched Imogen Eden-Brown’s
showreel was keen to work with her and she pitched her scene perfectly.
Stuart knew Deborah Voorhees and Hayley Reece Greenbauer were over from
the US to promote 13 Fanboy and suggested I write them into the film
so we have these two amazing cameos. My husband Dave Sutherland played
Linda’s husband, Christopher. I’d wanted Stuart to play him but Covid
stepped in and we had to change plans last minute. Dave was well overdue a
haircut and shave, but that worked in our favour: A beard, glasses and a
change of clothes and even his closest friends didn’t recognise him on
screen. He did a great job!
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
were a small team: I had my assistant director Marcus Lorentzen with me.
I’d seen a short film Marcus had made and was really impressed by it, so
asked him to come on board. He has a great eye and really good ideas. And
we had Jason Read as our DOP and Tomo Davies on sound, both very
professional and easy to work with. Jason and I had discussed ideas,
locations and shots in pre-production. Dave provided all other support
(catering, driving etc). It was a lot of work but we worked well together
and it was supportive and good fun. In particular all of us – cast and
crew – squashed into one car driving between locations was very cosy! We
made sure our final scene of the shoot was in the pub, which was a great
excuse for us all to have a few drinks afterwards.
$64-question of course, where can A
Hymn for Her be seen?
be on the film festival circuit for a while so at the moment it can be
seen at festivals. We premiere at Hastings Rocks Film Festival 22-24
April. There is a trailer available: https://youtu.be/Dg-0whXKDLk
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of A
Hymn for Her?
far, it’s been amazing, everyone who has seen it has been very positive
and really enjoyed it. We’ve had a couple of reviews (including one from
yourself) and they have both been great and really caught the essence of
Any future projects you'd like to
be promoting A
Hymn for Her for quite some time (hopefully!). I’m
also a judge at The Misty Moon International Film Festival later this
year. I have a TV project in the very early stages of development, I have
a couple of short plays being staged later this yea,r and I’m also
project managing/directing something later this year that I can’t talk
about just yet! There’ll be other projects with Stuart and Misty
well. I’ll also be producing and directing music videos for my husband,
Dave Sutherland who I mentioned earlier, who’s a musician (you can hear
his songs on my films). He has a new album out so we’re busy promoting
What got you into filmmaking in the first place,
and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
formal training as such. I’m a writer first and foremost. I’ve always
liked writing, so a few years ago I took a bit of a leap of faith and did a
part time TV Scriptwriting MA. I graduated with a Distinction, got an
agent very quickly, and was then commissioned to write for Jed
Mercurio’s Critical on Sky 1. But a few months later,
Critical was axed,
a couple of my TV projects were dropped, and then suddenly nothing was
happening. I was doing a lot of unpaid writing work and found myself quite
disillusioned. Then a friend pointed out I was complaining a lot (which
was true), and why didn’t I do something myself. So I started planning
on filming The Ballad of a Haunted Man, which was initially a short
horror play I’d written which had won a competition. I’d met a DOP
called Dan Shoring when I made a short film with him (called Maybe
Tomorrow) when I was doing my MA, and really wanted to work with him
again, so we co-produced. Working with Dan was brilliant training, he’s
massively talented and very patient. My tutor at uni was Jim Hill, a
prolific TV writer and director, and he also came along to help. I also had
a really supportive cast so I had the best on set training you could
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to A
Hymn for Her?
made a short when I was at uni called Maybe Tomorrow, which starred
Tony Bell, Carolyn Pickles, Lucy Pickles, Grace Derby and Louis John
Brzozka. I really enjoyed it. Then, as I mentioned, Dan and I co-produced
The Ballad of a Haunted Man. Our cast was Shane Attwooll, Helen Lederer
and Eliza Leonard. I love that film: I learned a lot making it. I had no
expectations but it really took off and was massively successful. Shane
picked up Best Actor awards, we won Best Film awards and I won Best Woman
Filmmaker at The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival. I loved working
with Shane, I think he’s amazing, so I wrote The Boy Who Thought He
Could Fly for him - it was also in response to me losing a close
friend, it’s a film about grief. I cast my friends’ son, Archie
Sanders, it was his first film and he was amazing. I also had the
brilliant Jenna Russell, so a stellar cast. I co-produced with Dan, with
Jim on board as AD. It also did extremely well, Shane and Archie picked up
awards and the film won a lot of Best Inspirational Film Awards. After
that, during lockdown, I made My One True Love which was about
dementia. That was also with Dan – I wrote it for his wife, Lisa
Stevenson who I think is a great actress. Lisa knows the brilliant Sheila
Reid, and she agreed to do it, so once again a great cast. We filmed it on
Zoom in an afternoon, and the reaction was astonishing. We got thousands
of YouTube hits and picked up Best Lockdown Film awards and Best Actress
awards. It’s now used a training video in hospitals. Both The Boy Who
Thought He Could Fly and My One True Love also had TV premieres
on London Live.
How would you describe yourself as
with a clear vision of what I want but very open to other people’s
ideas. Very collaborative. I think I work well under pressure and I hope I
lead well and inspire confidence. Most of all, I hope I make everyone feel
they are part of things and that no matter what their role, they are
Filmmakers who inspire you?
McDonagh, Ava DuVernay, Edgar Wright, Dorothy Arzner, Greta Gerwig,
Kathryn Bigelow. I’m also very inspired by writers. I’m a massive
Agatha Christie fan. And TV writers Sally Wainwright, Lisa Holdsworth,
Tony Marchant, Jimmy McGovern. The person I’ve learned the most from is
Jed Mercurio, I worked with him for a while and learned an incredible
amount about writing, audience, show-running and self-belief.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
ones that come to mind, for many different reasons, are Three
Billboards Outside Epping, Missouri, Hot Fuzz,
The Lost Boys, One Night in Miami, Psycho,
The Shawshank Redemption, Brief Encounter, Green Book and the
... and of course, films you really
skip this one – if you haven’t anything nice to say about someone’s
work, then just don’t say anything (in public at least).
Your/your movie's website, social media,
on Twitter @Emj20, The Misty Moon Society have a Facebook group and
Hymn for Her also has a Facebook page.
Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
you asked everything! But if anyone would like to know the best advice
that I’ve been given, it’s this: ‘Always be nice, and always say
thank you.’ Thank you.
Thanks for the