Catherine Fordham is a New York based filmmaker who made her directorial debut with Consommé, a thriller/horror short that she also wrote and produced. Consommé recently screened at the Nitehawk Cinemas in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to having recently co-produced and directed the series ‘Best Thing You’ll Ever Do’, about the daunting pressures of whether or not to have children, Fordham is currently in development with her feature Wild Cry Ha.
How did the idea for your recent short Consommé surface?
The original idea came when a girlfriend of mine was angry at an ex-boyfriend and about to walk home late at night. Another friend said, “be careful getting home.” I saw a flash of fire cross her eyes, almost like, “Try to mess with me tonight, when I have this fire burning!”. I wanted to make a film that wasn’t about a superhero, or a physically powerful woman, but just an ordinary woman with a fire inside her. What strength is possible if we can tap into that power? What fierceness is there when we fight for our lives as if we deserved it? As if we were fighting for our child’s lives. In some way this film was also a fantasy… What is an “appropriate” response to sexual violence?
How many days was the shoot and what kind of challenges did you face in the making?
We shot it in 1.5 days the second time…we shot the film twice! The first time the footage was lost, in a very strange way. I had to raise more money and wait for the harshest part of winter to pass to shoot again. It was a very difficult four months in between because I was mourning the loss of our first shoot. But in the end, it was a blessing in a really annoying disguise. The second shoot was in a different location (the first one was torn down weeks after our shoot), and with a different crew and cast. I learned a lot in that four months and I think it was a better film the second time!
Did the film end up similar to how you envisioned it to be or were there changes that took place during filming which surprised you?
In this particular case, and I don’t really expect it to ever happen again, but yes, the film is almost exactly what was in my mind!
How did you come up with the idea of your female protagonist devouring his ear, was it something that was clear from the beginning of your first visions for the film?
Actually, in the very beginning, I wanted her to eat all of him. But I needed to simplify due to budget and the ear felt right. Actually I think it was really my friend Molly’s idea! It needed to be recognizable in the toilet, so people understood that she really ate him, didn’t just bite!
You recently attended Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in Munich, Germany, how was the experience?
Oh man I feel so fortunate to have been there. It was such a kick to the gut, heart and butt! I met the most amazing, weird filmmakers from all over, sat in the presence of greatness for four days, drank yummy beer and came back feeling like I could make anything happen. I will always treasure that experience!
What kind of stories do you aspire to create?
Well, I think/hope that will change over time, but right now, I want to create stories that feel dangerous and wild with a strong point of view. I want to subvert the woman-as-victim story and tear it apart and show what’s inside and there might be some collateral damage. Having said that, I can’t help but also want people to laugh too, if possible. I’m really enjoying watching Westerns these days. I just watched Fist Full of Dollars last night. The characters, the score, the heightened reality… so freaking fun. I wish I could be a male actor in the 60’s in a spaghetti western… maybe I was!
You are based in New York, do you want to continue making films within New York or have you in mind other locations you would like to shoot in?
I’m always inspired by desolate streets in deep Brooklyn and Queens. But this new film, Wild Cry Ha, is more of a rural/small town setting. I’m not sure exactly where—perhaps Wyoming, or Texas or maybe Maine. I find Maine really creepy. I find Wyoming really stunning. I’ve never been to Texas but it scares me to that’s probably good. I would love to shoot in Colorado, where I’m originally from, but they have a morality clause, I hear, so I have to do more research into that… My film is totally offensive I think. Mexico?! Maybe Mexico for Texas? We’ll see!
Wild Cry Ha is the feature you are developing and writing?
Can you tell us a bit about the story?
Wild Cry Ha is a surreal thriller about a young woman’s search for her sister and vigilante justice in America’s Wild West of truck stops, seedy motels and strip clubs after a traumatic event. The backdrop of the film is this really dark world of the child rape trade, but it also has a somewhat over the top vigilante story line and there’s definitely humor. The characters are big and I hope it’s a cathartic and exciting film to watch!
What stage of pre-production are you in?
I’m still writing the screenplay! I’m working on the second draft right now. But I’m also starting to think about how to raise money, where to shoot, etc.
Do you have an idea of when you want to shoot it?
Late 2018, ideally. God willing.
- Interviewed by Daniella Alma