Jess Kay & Dann Emmons - 'Out of Orbit' Director Q&A
Out of Orbit was the final film to screen at Visability Film Festival's live event at Close-Up Cinema, Saturday 19 February, and brought our live event to a fitting close. As joint winners of our 'Best Director' award, it seemed only fitting to catch up with Jess & Dann to get their thoughts on the film. Enjoy!
VFF: Out of Orbit is incredibly moving, but also leaves you with a smile on your face (which is why we chose it to finish our Cinema Programme) - How did you manage such a complex emotional journey in the film?
DE: When we set out to make the film I remember vividly agreeing together that we wanted to make people cry! In all honesty though I think riding that bittersweet line between melancholy and hope is something both myself and Jess have a real desire for in our work even before we step into a project, it’s the emotion that we bonded over and I think it came quite easily to us in writing and directing this film. Telling a story through a child’s perspective certainly helps however, as you can dig a little deeper but you don’t need as much motivation to inspire the awe and wonder as you do with us cynical adults.
JK: I suppose that having lost people myself, I have experienced my own timeline of sorrow, wild hope, and all that comes with grief and it's often lack of closure. So in many ways I was able to use Out of Orbit as a way of exploring my own struggles with the subject. Perhaps that genuine exploration of complicated feelings helped lead to a more complex emotional journey in the film itself.
VFF: How does your approach differ when trying to coax a performance out of a child actors as opposed to adults?
JK & DE: I think the key difference between dealing with a child and an adult is that you almost direct them less. Children are wonderfully instinctive and enjoy the art of play as they have fewer inhibitions. With an adult you need to coax a performance out of them through thoughtful conversation and exploration, whereas with a child you can speak very mechanically and just watch the magic happen, tempering them into a more subtle or larger performance where necessary.
VFF: There’s some seriously impressive arts and crafts on display! Which member(s) of your team were responsible for the rocket and how long did it take to build? Is there a step by step guide that can be made available to audience in case of further Lockdown?
DE: Jess takes all the credit for the art design on the film, she’s a genius. She does come from a background of building models and puppetry for Theatre productions which is how we first met, on a music video starring a puppet jellyfish she’d made, but I think we can all agree that the rocket is the pinnacle of the film and beautifully sets the stage for the climax without it feeling cheap and at the same time it being beautifully homemade.
JK: So I built most of the rocket in my mum's living room where it lived for a good few months, (sorry mum!). It's difficult to say how long it took to create as I never did it over one night like Esme; I did bits now and then, sat in the pilots seat, sticking buttons in different places, seeing what can do what..
I wanted to give Amira, who played Esme, lots of options of what to play with in the rocket, my personal favourite when she turns the go cart wheels, which turn the hobby horse wheel, which turns the cymbal to show the constellation which she is aiming towards..
I haven't a step by step guide exactly.. but keep a look out for Esme's space project scrapbook in the actual film for ideas! Other than that, all you really need is a cardboard box, sticky tape and a love of imagination!