Close Up: Interview with Writer/Director Megan K. Fox

Megan K. Fox is an Irish writer/director working in London & Dublin. Her work includes award winning short films, music videos and features in development.

Her latest short Girl has enjoyed a warm reception on the festival circuit thus far. A realist drama shot in vertical format, Girl was one of the winners of the WFTV Lifetime Shorts Competition, named Best Short Film at the Dublin Feminist Film Festival and most recently saw Megan named Best Director Under 25 at the BAFTA qualifying Underwire Festival 2016.

Megan is currently in post production on her latest short film Calling Home, and looking forward to attending the Talent Lab at Reykjavik International Film Festival later this year to continue developing her debut feature.

When did you first become interested in filmmaking?

I’ve always loved to write. As a child I enjoyed writing poems and short stories, but it became a real outlet for me in my teenage years when I started battling depression, as it continues to be to this day.

It wasn’t until I went to college in Dublin to do my BA in Film, Literature and Drama that a career in filmmaking became my goal. At that stage I couldn’t have named a single female director (never mind an Irish one) so filmmaking wasn’t even on the cards for me. That all changed when I sat down for my first Cinema History class. As our tutor began exploring the birth of cinema & describing the affect that the moving image had on its audience when it first emerged, I found myself entranced with the idea of bringing one of my stories to life. I thought, if pioneers like Georges Méliès could create other worlds with such basic resources, what’s to stop me telling a story with all the technology we have available to us now?

I endeavored to shoot my first short film later that year. It was fairly rubbish to say the least, but I’ve wanted nothing more since then than to continue trying. In the words of my fellow countryman Samuel Beckett; To fail again but fail better.

How do you work with your actors? Do you discuss character together or rehearse prior to filming?

I’m not big on rehearsals, probably because my shorts to date have been very minimal when it comes to dialogue. For me it’s all about getting the most natural performance possible on screen, and I think you can take the immediacy out of the thing if you overwork it. I love meeting with my actors at an early stage and talking through their ideas for the character, finding out more about them personally and what they can bring from their own lived experience to the role. As with my latest short Calling Home sometimes the character will change quite a lot from their original state on the page once I start working with my actors. I try to mold the role around the actor rather than force them to inhibit a character with none of their natural quirks. It means placing a lot of trust in your actors (which backfires sometimes!) but when it works it really works, and creates fruitful creative relationships in the process.

Can you tell us more about your recent film Calling Home, how did it’s original idea present itself to you?

The idea came from my previous short film Girl which we submitted to a competition called Reel Homes earlier this year along with a pitch on how we would develop the story in to a 20 minute piece. Girl followed a day in the life of an unnamed homeless woman as she struggled to collect enough money for something she seemed to want desperately. We aimed to tackle some of the most common prejudices people have towards homeless people as the audience is left to ponder what she might be saving money for – Drugs? Alcohol? In the end all she wanted was enough money to take her clothes to a launderette, to put on something clean at the end of the day and feel like a normal person for just a moment.

We were really excited to get the opportunity to give this character a name and a story in Calling Home. I worked in a soup kitchen for the homeless when I was a teenager and met so many lovely people there who had come upon hard or unfortunate times, so I have had an interest in telling a story like this one for a long time now. In Calling Home we’ve explored some of the circumstances that could lead to a promising, talented and driven person winding up sleeping rough. I hope that audiences will come away from the film with some of their perceptions challenged, provoked to ponder how they themselves could wind up homeless through a simple series of unfortunate events.

Most of your shorts have female protagonists. Is this something you lean more toward as a Storyteller?

It wasn’t a conscious effort of mine to make stories with female protagonists, but I like to write what I know and focus on issues that move me. I’m proud to call myself a feminist and I’m certainly drawn to films with women both in front of and behind the camera, so it feels only natural to me now to write female leads. I do remember making my very first short and thinking to myself that I better write a story with a male protagonist as, in my naivety, I believed that viewers wouldn’t relate as easily to a female one. Thinking back on that really saddens me, I hope that as we move forward and continue to champion female creatives other young women won’t feel that pressure when they are starting out. I quickly realized that I was lying to myself by trying to force my stories on male characters when they are (for the most part) so much concerned with being a woman, with our gaze and my own lived experience. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy writing male characters, but for the moment most of my ideas do focus on female protagonists.

What are some your favorite films?

This is the hardest question on earth. So much pressure!
At the moment some of my favorites are ‘Mustang’, ‘Short Term 12’, ‘Thelma and Louise’, ‘The Fisher King’, ‘The Skeleton Twins’, ‘Crooklyn’, ‘American Honey’ and ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’ (I could give you a whole other list of animated films, but that’s a different story!)

Do you have any future projects in development?

At the moment I’m concentrating on developing my debut feature Waltzer with the support of Corona Pictures. I can’t say too much about it at this stage, but it’s a very personal coming of age story that I have been working on for some years now and I’m excited to be taking the script to the Reykjavik Talent Lab next month.

Daniella Alma

When Daniella Alma isn't working as Creative Producer for Monologue Blogger, she works in film as an actress.