Widening the Lens Q&A with Mariana Conde

On the shortlist

Mariana Conde, director

  1. How do you feel to have been shortlisted for the Widening The Lens competition?

I am thrilled to be part of a competition that aims to encourage a much-needed diversity on and off screen. I’ve been pushing myself as a female director for over a decade.

  1. What story idea did you pitch?

I pitched Shotgun Wedding, a short drama set in rural Wales, about a farmer, Dilwyn and his young transgender daughter, Sian. On the day before her wedding, Sian returns to the family’s isolated farm expecting her recently widowed father to give her away, but she’s underestimating how much the changes in their lives have affected their relationship…

  1. What inspired the theme?

As a director, when I joined Shotgun Wedding, the script had already taken shape. Dilwyn and Sian are creations of Rachel McAdam, our screenwriter’s fascinating mind.

  1. How does it address diversity and the idea of challenging limitations of character and story development?

As a director, I want to make films that encourage tolerance and widen the lens of human understanding. Shotgun Wedding approaches themes of identity and sexuality, whilst challenging and avoiding stereotypical assumptions. The LGBT community is eager for stories that relate to the range of their experiences and I want to give them, and the wider audience, a film with well-rounded, strong characters in a situation that anyone can relate to.

  1. Does your film stimulate audience debate?

Every time I pitch Shotgun Wedding to a friend or colleague, it stirs debate. It’s a film that works on many levels, with several different layers. I believe that having a transgender character in our story is a very clever way to opening the doors to a wider gender role discussion.

  1. How did you get into filmmaking?

I’ve always loved reading, listening to and telling stories. Nine years ago, I moved to London dreaming of pursuing a career as a director. Instead, I found myself groomed into Production, a role that in this Industry is still nowadays “deemed more appropriate for females”. I climbed up the ladder and established myself as a freelance Producer and Production Manager working mainly in Advertising, whilst directing my own projects in my spare time, such as Daily Grind and award winning C.T.R.L. I’m currently developing two exciting projects Shotgun Wedding and Aisha.

  1. What’s your top tip for other new and emerging filmmakers?The only thing you need to make a film is to not be afraid of anybody or anything.’ John Cassavetes.
  1. What’s your experience and thoughts regarding a lack of diversity within the film industry, both on and off screen?

The number of female directors has always been known to be lower than male directors, but in the last couple of years, the realisation of how little progress has been made from the beginning of cinema to current days is starting to sink in.

The Director’s UK study of gender inequality in the industry reveals that women make up only 13.6% of the total of working film directors. It’s time we say enough is enough. Hopefully, Widening the Lens is part of a wide range of initiatives that will push for a more equal film industry.

  1. What are your ambitions for the film concept after the festival?

My team and I have been perfecting the script for the last couple of weeks and are confident that we have now achieved a very strong draft based on our own experiences and research. We will also look at other avenues such as municipal funding schemes and in-kind support. Nothing would please us more than to know that our hard work creating this project has had a significant, positive effect on those that see it.