Interview with Filmmaker Rosalee Yagihara (GNAW)

1. What motivated you to make this film?

For me this was a female centric story that I wanted to create with a female DP and the right cast. I was introduced to Angelica Perez-Castro and immediately clicked with her. She brought out a female team and we had an incredible shoot! This is a story about the dark side that a woman can experience internally, about how we can obsess to the point of inflicting pain upon ourselves and hurt those close to us, about how it can drive a relationship into a downward spiral. I wanted to find the right cast that could go on this journey into madness and I am so grateful for Luvia and Bethany, they were my first choices. Working with them was so easy, we had some discussions together before the shoot and on the day they delivered great performances and were super responsive.

After working as an AD for a decade I was feeling ready to wear my directing hat once again and Gnaw was the perfect breakout film for me.

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

Meg Turner selected me to direct her script in 2020. It took us a year to make it to production because Covid numbers spiked when we were planning on shooting twice. I was working full time as an AD on when we shot so it took me time to line everything up. We shot the film in one weekend. We shot all day Saturday and the final scene was shot on Sunday, Luvia took several hours to have the MUFX applied. Our editor fit the project in between other gigs so we had to be patient with her timing then again for Angelica to do the colour timing. It wasn’t a huge volume of work though it was spaced out over almost two years from the very start to completion.

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

Pleasantly unsettling.

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

The MUFX was the biggest obstacle while shooting. Our artist decided on making a bodysuit that she would paint on top of. The suit didn’t quite work out and we had to find creative solutions on the day on how to shoot it. Overall the biggest obstacle was getting everyone’s schedules to align. Luvia and Bethany are busy actors and most of the crew are very busy as well. I couldn’t have done this shoot without our producer, Alyssa Aussant who made everything come together.

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

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the feedback. Gnaw has been doing better than I expected in festivals though it was really encouraging to hear that what I was going for with this film was translated onto the screen and it created strong reactions. Each piece of feedback was very thoughtful and offered a fresh perspective.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

When I was young I was mesmerized watching The Wizzard of Oz, Mary Poppins, and Annie. I had a dream of working on movies but it wasn’t until much later, after going to art school and working as a marketing consultant that I realized that my true work passion was filmmaking and I signed up for film school.

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

I keep rewatching Children of Men, that movie engrosses on all levels. When I was younger I kept revisiting Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours Trilogy though the all time most seen movies are the original Star Wars trilogy films.

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

Feedback is import for filmmakers; it’s how we can further learn and grow and I think that this festival is doing an outstanding job. Networking is also essential.

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

I couldn’t imagine the film festival submission process without FilmFreeway! I think the platform is brilliant.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I’m a bit of a foodie. I love a meal with fresh local ingredients and absolutely love eating wild mushrooms! Also, I am fuelled by fresh fruit.

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

Yes, Gnaw has given me the desire to create more and develop my skill as a director. I am fascinated by the technical side as well as working with performance. I am working on some story ideas in other genres to round out my skill though I’d love to do another horror with writer Meg Turner.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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