Interview with Filmmaker Michelle Bailey (STRIPEY SOCKS)

STRIPEY SOCKS, 5min., UK, Animation/Documentary
Directed by Michelle Bailey
‘Stripey Socks’ is the true tale of Michelle Bailey as a young girl dealing with teenage pregnancy, navigating her way through secrecy, blame and catholic school. The film, shot by Diana Stefanescu, is of live illustrators by Cait Buckley which are complemented by the beautiful soundtrack by Sophie Hadlum. The film was made on the same weekend as the Irish abortion referendum which compelled the director to make this film.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Filmmaking for me is cathartic. It’s a way for me to explore trauma in my life and turn it into something more creative and productive. It helps me process my thoughts and feelings and connects me to people with similar experiences. It makes me feel less alone and less ashamed, breaking down the stigma that surrounds abortion especially in religion.

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

I wanted to do Stripey Socks after my first film Dad which was over 10 years ago. I wrote a script but struggled with the right approach, so I put it to the back of my mind until I felt I had the right tools, crew and approach to tackle such a hard subject. But once I had my crew, we would eat dinner together, sharing ideas and collaborate. We shot the visuals in one day during the weekend of the Irish referendum on Abortion. We recorded the tear inducing music of Sophie Hadlum in an afternoon. All production was at The Tin Music and Arts in Coventry. Diana Stefansecu my DOP and Editor really helped me shape the film in post production. All in all, it was over a space on 3 – 4 months.

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

Pro choice!

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

As always, myself. Filmmaking is one of the longest processes of making art. Self doubt can strike at any point and at any stage. Thankfully my crew were amazing and helped me through every stage. Special shout out to my husband Mason Le Long who recorded my dialogue and helped ground me afterwards.

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

I was too scared to watch it but when Cait Buckley (illustrator) told me it was great, I watched it, in awe of all the lovely feedback. I had to watch it twice as the first time I couldn’t take it all in the first time due to feeling a bit overwhelmed. I felt really proud of the crew and the feedback reflected how great each component of their work was. From the Illustrations, to the music, to the sound to the lighting. It was great that the audience appreciated their talent. I couldnt pay my crew, all I could offer was food and creativity so for their work to be seen, heard and appreciated by the audience is incredible.

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

I always wanted to make films since I was a little girl. I wanted to be the next Ann Miller starring in musicals. It was when I was 10 when I watched a mini documentary which was behind the scenes of a film. This woman was in charge and she was being a total boss. I thought, Whoa! I didn’t know we could be behind the camera. So thankfully I found my way behind the camera rather than in front as I am no Ann Miller.

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

Return to Oz. 80’s children’s films were crazy scary but I was obsessed with that film when I was a child and older. The sound design in particular was something I loved.

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

I think this festival is really building an international community of filmmakers and film enthusiasts. The encouragement of the staff and the audience is something really special and has helped me get over boundaries of self doubt. Keep up the amazing work.

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

Great site, highly recommend it.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Why is this the hardest question? I love roast potatoes/chips with salad and hummus.

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

I’m half way through a documentary about my Mum “Keeping Mum”. Looking into our relationship with each other as our roles reverse due to being her long term carer as well as a complicated love letter to the NHS, a system that is failing but also providing her only lifeline.

The Stripey Sock’s crew will be making another film together this time with Diana Stefanecu’s in the driving seat so watch this space!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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