ASFF Interview: Leanne Welham, Nocturn

Featuring in part of the Drama stream at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) Leanne Welham’s film Nocturn is a piece about insomnia and suburbia. From 9-11 November Nocturn will appear in multiple venues across York, at the Mansion House and St William’s College. Aesthetica speaks to Welham about her innovative film and the inspiration behind it.

What is your film, Nocturn, about?
LW: Nocturn is about a woman called Jody who has insomnia. Almost every night she leaves her sleeping husband and child and fills the lonely twilight hours walking the empty streets of suburbia. But the night we meet her is different; at the local 24-hour garage a passionate young couple have caught Jody’s eye. When they ask her to join them for a spliff, Jody finds herself caught on a nocturnal road trip tinged with danger and sexual tension that will force her to face some uncomfortable home truths.

A: The film is based on insomnia, where did you get the inspiration from to write about the sleeping disorder?
LW: The inspiration for the film came from a Raymond Carver short story called “The Students Wife”. Its about a woman who can’t sleep and spends the entire night walking around her house. Whilst it is never made explicit, there is clearly something deeply wrong in this woman’s life, a sort of tension bubbling under the surface. I love the way Carver writes, leaving gaps for the reader to imagine or question what is really going on, and I wanted to reflect that in my characterisation of Jody. I also love the way he captured the strangeness and loneliness of those hours when the world is asleep. I started to think about what might happen if a character was out on the streets during those hours and what other kinds of people might be awake. What would happen if they met? Where would they go?

A: The film is a drama, do you prefer drama as a genre or do you have an interest in other genres?
LW: I love drama and it seems to work well with my particular style of direction, but I am interested in other genres. As long as the story is compelling it doesn’t matter so much which genre it fits into.

A: Which film makers and films have particularly influenced you?
LW: I love Michael Haneke, all his films are amazing but in particular I love Hidden. Also Christian Mungiu’s 4 Months, 3 Weeks 2 Days is a film that completely blew me away. UK directors I admire include Andrea Arnold and Lynn Ramsey – Morvern Caller was brilliant. More recently I’ve loved Melancholia by Lars Von Trier.

A: I am aware you went to Uganda to produce a film for Comic Relief, what was that like?
LW: I make a lot of films for charities and I really enjoy it. It’s amazing being able to travel and see parts of the world that a lot of people don’t get to visit. And being a self-shooting producer/director is also really good practise for me as a fiction director – shooting in the field can be quite pressurised and demanding, you have to make decisions quickly and quite often things can change at the last minute. You need to have the story you want to tell in your head very clearly throughout the shoot, which obviously has a lot of overlap with narrative drama.

Aesthetica Short Film Festival 8 – 11 November, across the city of York.

1, Jody Dance, Nocturn, courtesy of ASFF.