Solidago is a short film dedicated to unearthing an important, yet under-explored, event of women's history: a time during the Baby Scoop Era in which a steep incline in extra-marital births led to the increase in newborn adoption rates in the UK. Solidago will be produced by an all-female cast and crew since, in many ways, female creation is vital to this film. The film will be set in a fictional commune in East England where women are sent to give birth and then give over the custody of their children to the commune’s inhabitants. In line with the history and philosophy of existing and historical communes, we hope to bring new, progressive, distinctly female perspectives into the realm of film while also employing techniques of sustainable and ecological film-making.
Solidago will be shot on 16mm film and told using subtitles; in effect, tying the film’s production to a long history of experimentation with film stock and dialogue-less cinema.
In the summer of 1967, a young woman named Edith arrives at Solidago, a fictional commune set in South Est England along the southern coast, to give birth to a child conceived out of wedlock. There, under the supervision of the matron-like figure of Rosa, a group of women form an otherworldly community separated from 1960s British societal norms. The film follows Edith as she is introduced into the lives, culture and rituals of those that dwell in Solidago: the major summer rituals, a theatrical celebration and a wedding. She is lulled into a sense of belonging yet her body acts as a constant reminder of the temporary nature of her visit and the trauma to come.
The film will not include any dialogue; its narrative will be told using entirely visual techniques and through the voice of Edith, the protagonist, in the form of subtitles. Told through a female perspective, Solidago focuses on the biological processes of female anatomy while, on the other hand, portraying a self-sufficient group of internally socialised women.
We will shoot predominantly on 16mm film in full colour. We will also use heavily tinted monochromes, black and white. The film will flicker between the styles, responding to and reflecting changes in the soundtrack. The camera will linger, allowing the pace of the film to slow, so the audience has time to soak up the atmosphere of the commune and the narrative. Aesthetically, we will contrast ethereality with clinical and uncomfortable depictions of pregnancy. Costume will be used to divide the world of Solidago and that of historical 1960s Britain.
Major influences on our work include: Andrei Tarkovsky, Lynne Ramsay, Deniz Gamze Ergüve, Paul Wright, Carolee Schneemann, Patti Smith, Derek Jarman and BFI archive footage.
Solidago will evoke the escapism of memory. For that reason, there will be a minimal variety of lenses and “spectacular” filming techniques. It will be shot in Suffolk (UK), mainly outdoors, making great use of the local landscape and of wildlife. There will also be scenes that, while still outdoors, will make use of fabric and wooden set design to create artificial backdrops for the scenes.
Why is this film important?
It tells an untold story of the Babyscoop Era – a period of history in which many women were forced through silent tragedies as a result of extra-marital pregnancy.
The women there will not be shown through an objectifying lens but as independent and resilient women, that perform tasks that have been seen as traditionally masculine. The film shows a space in which women are fully self-sufficient and liberated. The cast and crew are almost entirely female. In the same vein, the film sets up the commune as one of ethnic diversity and racial equality.
Utopian modes of living are coming into focus again. Communal living is returning through technology (AirBnB, Uber, Reddit etc.). This film acts as part of the reaction to the rapid onset of technology and virtual living, idealising the rural communes of old.
In a similar way to Slow Cinema, Solidago cherishes the lingering shots of nature and immersion of the audience into a much slower pace against the quick tempo of contemporary living.
The future of the planet is something we're taking seriously on this project. We're limiting the filming locations to one area in Suffolk, so that our travel emissions will be low - this limitation is also an integral part to the themes and ideas of the film. This will be aided by the use of mainly local services, such as catering and extras. We will also ensure to minimise our impact on the local nature and wildlife.
We will use reclaimed vintage clothing for the more conventionally period-dressed in the film. Any costume manufactured by us will be made with natural dyes and recycled materials as much as possible. Our choice of analogue film lowers our use of electricity on-set. On top of this, we will make less use of electrical lighting, since most scenes are set in natural daylight; any artificial lighting we do make use of will be from low-consumption equipment.
Actor Ella Loudon will star as Edith, the main role in Solidago. Ella is a Scottish born actress, artist, model and singer based in New York. She has trained with Harold Guskin and Tina Packer. She is a member of Shakespeare and Company, having played Miranda in The Tempest and Phoebe in As you Like It. She will be playing Viola in Twelfth Night this summer season. Ella was in the New York Times critically acclaimed opera The Mother of Us All. She had lead roles in the award winning films ManEater and Trauma Is a Time Machine.
We are currently completing the casting process, but still searching for some of the other parts..
Jerusha and Geoff have devoted the last two years to this project: researching, writing and editing the script, producing video studies, and developing connections. They have intensively researched the subject matter of the film, and believe that they can bring a new perspective and approach to this important subject matter. Having noticed a severe lack in films surrounding both women’s experience of maternity and the increase of communal living in artistic circles throughout the twentieth century, Geoff and Jerusha are excited to shed light on an otherwise untouched area of cultural significance.
Sara joined the team in September 2018 and since then we have been working together on how to develop the script into a film and finding the best suited people to attach to the film.
We are now almost in pre-production: most crew members have been confirmed, as well as several cast members and locations.
Through Solidago we want to cherish values such as communal living, sustainability, freedom of choice and sharing. We, therefore, want to find through the internet a crowd of people who share our values and want to support our project coming to life. A crowdfunding campaign is the natural way of achieving this.
This campaign aims to raise a minimum of £7,000:
- £5000 will go towards paying cast and crew since we strongly support the idea of a fair day's wage.
- £2000 will cover our camera and film stock costs.
This campaign is just a first step, but it's the most important one.
Our overall budget is £14,000. So, if the campaign is successful and we exceed our target, we would be able to cover some of the following costs:
- £1000 on travel
- £1000 on the rest of our kit (lights, lenses, etc)
- £1500 on set and costume design
- £1500 on post-production
- £500 on marketing
- £500 on insurance
- £800 on catering
We aim to shoot the film in August 2019.
Post-production will be finished by the end of December 2019; then, we'll submit our short film to international film festivals.
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Risks and challenges
Filmmaking comes with risks. For instance following a successful campaign we may not acquire the remaining necessary funds. This crowdfunding campaign is a first step towards funding the project, but it is a vital step - success here leads to leverage with other funding bodies.
Similarly a film requires a lot of people and coordination; and members of the cast and crew may get ill, locations may become unavailable.
We have as a team worked through such issues in the past - filmmaking requires flexibility and adaptability and we have several plans in place if the above risks were to occur. For instance, we have a wide network of crew members to contact if our current crew’s availability becomes an issue.
In general, we are well equipped to face these challenges in terms of initiative, passion and commitment to seeing this project to the end.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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