Interview with Filmmakers Stella Cole & Emma Scotson (FINE)

FINE was the winner of Best Performances at the February 2022 EXPERIMENTAL Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Fine isn’t necessarily a super accessible song on first listen. We were going for an experimental r&b pop sound with a pretty relentless lyric and an unusually complex melodic structure. A few people have told us that Fine is a song you have to listen to a few times to totally understand, but once you get it you (hopefully) can’t stop listening!

We knew that having a music video for Fine would make it easier for people to connect on first listen. The visuals add so much to the song’s meaning. The goal was to blend a sweet, bright, and hyper feminine visual with an editing style that made you feel like you’re watching a vintage horror movie. The saccharine aesthetic mixed with violent quick cuts forces you to face the emotions the song is trying to convey.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We finalized the release dates of our first two singles on September 30th. Both were set to be released on November 19th. We hadn’t even conceptualized the music video yet (which we did by pacing around our living room together and bouncing ideas off of one another — the film’s general concept came together after about 15 minutes of doing this). We knew we needed to bring our incredible friend and collaborator Valen on as co-director to help further develop/fine-tune the video’s concept over the course of the following month.

It was an insane timeline creating cover-art, promo material, artist photos, producing/directing a music video, and finishing up the songs themselves, all within one month. The final edit wasn’t completed until the video’s release day.

We could not have done it without our amazing team: Valen-Marie Santos (Co-Director), Leo Gallagher (Director of Photography), Zack Lobel (Editor & Gaffer), Brian Meller (Stylist), Danii Parkes (Makeup), Drew Brown (First AC), Thomas Molash (Colorist), and Isaiah Frank.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Not bitter…:)

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Definitely the timeline, combined with the fact that this was our first time doing anything like this. We had to shoot the entire music video in one 12-hour day, and there were many costume/prop/set changes.

This was the first time Emma has directed anything, the first time we’ve released music together, and the first time either one of us has created a film from the ground up.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Emma ran into the bathroom while Stella was in the shower, and Stella was like “let’s watch it right now!!” So we both stood in the bathroom (Stella still in the shower) and watched it. We cried.

These last couple of years have been so difficult for artists. You don’t get to see the actual people that are watching the art you make — it’s all about numbers, views, etc. So it is so, so lovely to have that feedback video.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Because visuals/aesthetics are so important to ‘Fine,’ we knew a video had to be made. As independent artists, it’s super important to us that we have creative control over our work. Even though we’d never thought of ourselves as filmmakers prior to this experience, we knew we had to put in the work to help conceptualize the video and lead its process. It was so wonderful and fulfilling to see its final product, and to have a team that was so dedicated to our visions, and eager to experiment with them.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

For ‘Fine,’ there were certain music videos we kept going back to, over and over, to draw aesthetic/conceptual inspiration from. We’d love to take this as an opportunity to highlight all of the work that Valen did to find specific music videos that helped clarify the aesthetic/emotional tone of each colored room in ‘Fine.’

Some of the most significant ones she brought to the team during our video’s creative development were ‘A Palé’ (ROSALÍA), ‘good 4 u’ (Olivia Rodrigo), ‘cellophane’ (FKA twigs), and ‘Good Ones’ (Charli XCX)

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Your festival is already doing so many amazing things for its creatives, it’s hard for us to come up with an answer to this question.

Connecting artists/filmmakers with other people in the industry is always super helpful. Now that so much of the entertainment industry exists online & is about views and numbers, it’s so hard to find a sense of artistic community. So connecting new filmmakers with other directors, artists, filmmakers, etc. is immensely helpful to those trying to establish that sense of community.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It was amazing! Super easy and straightforward — and the reviews from fellow filmmakers were all incredibly positive and informative.

10. What is your favorite meal?

We’re very excitedly planning to go get Cacio E Pepe tomorrow for our single-girls-Valentine’s-day-outing (surprising that ‘Fine’ hasn’t…caused tons of men to…bang down our door?? It’s such a warm and welcoming video?? Weird.) So…Cacio E Pepe.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

We have a lot of exciting plans in the works for our EP which we will hopefully release within the next year. Maybe we’ll show completely different sides of ourselves…maybe some new sounds…some true love songs, even…we’re not sure, you’ll have to wait and see.

Valen directed an entire web-series that is going to air sometime in the near future. It’s called ‘Using Protection’ and is going to be AMAZING, and Valen is the most amazing so everyone go LOOK HER UP RIGHT NOW (Valen-Marie Santos) and be on the lookout for ‘Using Protection.’

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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