Interview with

Nicole Bedford

Director of

Nicole Bedford

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

I worked with a colleague who regularly makes unwavering eye-contact when participating in a conversation. I personally find extended eye-contact unsettling, and began to wonder why that was the case. Was this prolonged eye-contact an act of dominance and I was responding to this act by looking away (i.e. submission)? Did extended eye-contact go against Western social conventions of “acceptable eye-contact duration” and I was merely reacting to the breaking of social convention? What role did my gender play in terms of my response to prolonged eye-contact? How does eye-contact signify power? What kind of power does it convey? How do people feel when they are confronted by this type of power? From these questions, I then wondered — what would happen if a woman was the one making prolonged eye-contact? These questions led to creating ‘Roar’ as my way of feeling out the answers!

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

I actually found that this piece went together pretty smoothly from beginning to end. I felt really in the “flow” with it. To gather participants, I put out a call on Facebook and was incredibly happy with the number of women that responded, and in particular, their diversity with respect to age, background, experience, and thoughts on power. I couldn’t have asked for a more compelling and fascinating set of speakers and ideas! After filming everything on the same day, it took me about a week to pull everything together. Again, I was really absorbed in this piece! I suppose the most challenging part was deciding what to cut. Like I said, everyone had such interesting views. I am not sure if this comes across for others in the film, but one trend I found most interesting in the interviews was the fact that many of the older women talked about power using terms that often have a negative connotation (e.g. Scary, dangerous, control, etc.), whereas many of the younger women talked about power using terms with more positive connotations (e.g. inner-strength, choice, decisions, energy, responsibility, etc.). This difference, to me, indicates shifts in how society views women (my hope is this shift is for the better!). Anyway, I wanted to keep the piece short and to-the-point, so I had to cut a lot of interesting content. The other challenge was a debate I had with myself about whether or not to include the women speaking on camera. At first, I simply wanted to include their voices alongside them making still/silent eye-contact with the camera. But then I thought, women are often silenced by society, so never including the women actually speaking on camera felt like an extension of societal silencing. In the end, I chose to flip between silent eye-contact AND speaking on-screen so that the women were able to convey their power in BOTH respects. Finally, from a technical standpoint: I don’t own a fabric steamer…so contending with a wrinkly backdrop was *fun*.

How has the short film been received?

Everyone who has watched the film has “felt” something — or so they’ve told me. The viewing experience has been different for different genders, and also for those who see the film in a group setting versus on their own, wearing headphones at their own computers. Sometimes people see themselves in the inspiration of the film (i.e. the colleague I had who makes prolonged eye-contact). At one screening, I had a man approach me to tell me he was the type of guy who makes prolonged eye-contact (and of course, applied said eye-contact throughout our conversation). Others are inspired to reflect on their own power and explore why they find themselves AVOIDING direct eye-contact. When people have watched the piece on their own, they often tell me they “feel” strange afterwards but can’t quite put into words why (particularly those who identify as men). Ideally, people are watching the film before getting the “what this is about” explanation so they can react based on their own experiences and not on what they expect to experience. But overall, the film is impacting viewers in some way, which is always what a filmmaker hopes for!

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

I am working to complete my first documentary feature on anti-violence activism called ‘The Smallest Steps’. This film follows four women taking their first steps to becoming activists and explores what it takes to have a voice, both as individuals, and as a collective anti-violence movement. I’m also in the middle of shooting a new documentary following a Nova Scotia music band that formed right before COVID-19 and is working towards playing at the women’s music festival that birthed them. It’s an incredibly layered story because the music festival itself was developed by an organization that emerged in response to the downturn in the fishing industry. This organization was all about empowering women and families with job training during the economic downturn. They created the Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women and Song which was also about empowering women and the community with job training in the music industry. And then the band I’m following emerged as a result of the festival’s song-writing workshops, and THEY are all about supporting each other individually. So it’s these generations of women empowering women and their communities during tough times. I’m in love with the story (even though I can’t seem to capture it in a short log-line!) and I’m very excited about eventually sharing it with others. And finally, I’m also working with a talented glass artist to complete an immersive, experimental piece about the inspirations behind her art. This piece tackles themes of accessibility, imagination, nature, and the environment, as well as what it means to experience art, both physically and virtually. We’re hoping to finish this piece in early 2022.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

My advice would be to tackle films that YOU are passionate about. I’ve created films that were based on other’s ideas. I definitely thought those ideas were interesting or I wouldn’t have created the films. But I felt intense passion for ‘Roar’, and in terms of the creative flow, ‘Roar’ has been one of the easiest and best pieces I’ve created. And honestly, when you care deeply about the film, it doesn’t matter who sees it or how they react, because you’ve already successfully put your art into the world. So just create, and create something you’re passionate about. And try not to get bogged down in the audience’s reception, or in your (potentially lacking) technical skills. You have to begin your filmmaking journey somewhere! So “just do it”!

Recently Featured

Interview with

Nicole Bedford

Director of

Nicole Bedford

What was the inspiration behind making this short film?

I worked with a colleague who regularly makes unwavering eye-contact when participating in a conversation. I personally find extended eye-contact unsettling, and began to wonder why that was the case. Was this prolonged eye-contact an act of dominance and I was responding to this act by looking away (i.e. submission)? Did extended eye-contact go against Western social conventions of “acceptable eye-contact duration” and I was merely reacting to the breaking of social convention? What role did my gender play in terms of my response to prolonged eye-contact? How does eye-contact signify power? What kind of power does it convey? How do people feel when they are confronted by this type of power? From these questions, I then wondered — what would happen if a woman was the one making prolonged eye-contact? These questions led to creating ‘Roar’ as my way of feeling out the answers!

Was there any particular challenges you had to go through to make the short film happen?

I actually found that this piece went together pretty smoothly from beginning to end. I felt really in the “flow” with it. To gather participants, I put out a call on Facebook and was incredibly happy with the number of women that responded, and in particular, their diversity with respect to age, background, experience, and thoughts on power. I couldn’t have asked for a more compelling and fascinating set of speakers and ideas! After filming everything on the same day, it took me about a week to pull everything together. Again, I was really absorbed in this piece! I suppose the most challenging part was deciding what to cut. Like I said, everyone had such interesting views. I am not sure if this comes across for others in the film, but one trend I found most interesting in the interviews was the fact that many of the older women talked about power using terms that often have a negative connotation (e.g. Scary, dangerous, control, etc.), whereas many of the younger women talked about power using terms with more positive connotations (e.g. inner-strength, choice, decisions, energy, responsibility, etc.). This difference, to me, indicates shifts in how society views women (my hope is this shift is for the better!). Anyway, I wanted to keep the piece short and to-the-point, so I had to cut a lot of interesting content. The other challenge was a debate I had with myself about whether or not to include the women speaking on camera. At first, I simply wanted to include their voices alongside them making still/silent eye-contact with the camera. But then I thought, women are often silenced by society, so never including the women actually speaking on camera felt like an extension of societal silencing. In the end, I chose to flip between silent eye-contact AND speaking on-screen so that the women were able to convey their power in BOTH respects. Finally, from a technical standpoint: I don’t own a fabric steamer…so contending with a wrinkly backdrop was *fun*.

How has the short film been received?

Everyone who has watched the film has “felt” something — or so they’ve told me. The viewing experience has been different for different genders, and also for those who see the film in a group setting versus on their own, wearing headphones at their own computers. Sometimes people see themselves in the inspiration of the film (i.e. the colleague I had who makes prolonged eye-contact). At one screening, I had a man approach me to tell me he was the type of guy who makes prolonged eye-contact (and of course, applied said eye-contact throughout our conversation). Others are inspired to reflect on their own power and explore why they find themselves AVOIDING direct eye-contact. When people have watched the piece on their own, they often tell me they “feel” strange afterwards but can’t quite put into words why (particularly those who identify as men). Ideally, people are watching the film before getting the “what this is about” explanation so they can react based on their own experiences and not on what they expect to experience. But overall, the film is impacting viewers in some way, which is always what a filmmaker hopes for!

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

I am working to complete my first documentary feature on anti-violence activism called ‘The Smallest Steps’. This film follows four women taking their first steps to becoming activists and explores what it takes to have a voice, both as individuals, and as a collective anti-violence movement. I’m also in the middle of shooting a new documentary following a Nova Scotia music band that formed right before COVID-19 and is working towards playing at the women’s music festival that birthed them. It’s an incredibly layered story because the music festival itself was developed by an organization that emerged in response to the downturn in the fishing industry. This organization was all about empowering women and families with job training during the economic downturn. They created the Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women and Song which was also about empowering women and the community with job training in the music industry. And then the band I’m following emerged as a result of the festival’s song-writing workshops, and THEY are all about supporting each other individually. So it’s these generations of women empowering women and their communities during tough times. I’m in love with the story (even though I can’t seem to capture it in a short log-line!) and I’m very excited about eventually sharing it with others. And finally, I’m also working with a talented glass artist to complete an immersive, experimental piece about the inspirations behind her art. This piece tackles themes of accessibility, imagination, nature, and the environment, as well as what it means to experience art, both physically and virtually. We’re hoping to finish this piece in early 2022.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make their first short film?

My advice would be to tackle films that YOU are passionate about. I’ve created films that were based on other’s ideas. I definitely thought those ideas were interesting or I wouldn’t have created the films. But I felt intense passion for ‘Roar’, and in terms of the creative flow, ‘Roar’ has been one of the easiest and best pieces I’ve created. And honestly, when you care deeply about the film, it doesn’t matter who sees it or how they react, because you’ve already successfully put your art into the world. So just create, and create something you’re passionate about. And try not to get bogged down in the audience’s reception, or in your (potentially lacking) technical skills. You have to begin your filmmaking journey somewhere! So “just do it”!

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