F Word is a self-funded, short-film reflecting on child abandonment as a young woman confronts the recurring issues from her biological father. Taking us on a journey across South London, we’re shown the affects of a distant father on a receptive, young woman as she confronts seemingly inescapable and uncontrollable conflicts in an honest portrayal of self-discovery.
We spoke to Writer and Director Savanah Leaf to find out more…
Tell me a bit about yourself and how you got into your field?
I grew up surrounded by the arts. It has always been part of my natural expression, but it wasn't until June 2015 that I was really able to give it my undivided attention. At 17 I was offered a scholarship to play volleyball at University where I studied psychology and human/social development. The program enabled me to explore the potential of the human mind and relationships through observational research which both have a strong presence in my work. After graduating, I continued my professional career playing volleyball in Turkey and Puerto Rico, and for Team GB in the London 2012 Olympics. But in spite of these successes, I decided to return to the arts, which I am immensely passionate about, and am incorporating everything I learned as an athlete into the production process and more.
Who/ what inspires you?
My greatest inspiration comes from the vast array of people and places I pass everyday. Pretty much anything and everything can give me inspiration—but it’s simply about surrendering to the moment, to actually see and feel the world around you. For ‘F Word’ there is this dimension within the film that deals with elements of Nature vs Nurture. The idea to bring these elements into the film emerged from walking through the parks in London. I find it fascinating, the contrast between a bustling, industrial city, which is also home to these beautiful, serene open spaces. There is this connection between these elements that draws us as humans in two different directions, and I think this was key to the formation of the film concept.
Where did the idea for the film come from?
The idea for the film came from a collection of experiences shared by myself and many of my friends and family. It touches on a genuine feeling of being alone—speaking to those having lost, misplaced, or are missing a person who has been part of their life story and it touches on a unifying theme of self-discovery.
Tell us a bit about the process, how did the idea develop?
It started out as a simple concept, which developed as I wrote the script, and began connecting people together to create the cast and crew. We connected and formed a team based on our passion and belief in the film, which is why I believe there is a strength that definitely comes out through the energy in the story. I worked closely with the actress Savanna, to adapt the script to fit her language and to allow the text to resonate with her as well as everyone else working on the film. I didn’t have a lot of experience in film making, but I had a strong vision for the visuals and sound, and each person challenged me to make that vision a reality by contributing to each element of production through their expertise and willing-ness to collaborate.
How did you work with The Mill artists on this project?
It was such a great honour and privilege to work with The Mill. They were all very eager to get on board because they truly believed in the story and everyone working on the film. Oisin has such an incredible eye for detail, and gave every shot an immense amount of attention. He challenged himself to align each frame with the greater concept of the film; I truly appreciated his dedication and learned so much.
Colourist Oisin O’Driscoll also tells us about how he interpreted this particular brief:
"The brief was to make the film as cinematic as possible and Savanah was very closely involved in the development of the looks for the project. We began developing a natural, clean look for the whole film to give us a strong starting point which helped us build a very good relation and understanding of how we both interpreted the images and the story.
From this neutral point we started experimenting with different looks and varying strength of styles that would compliment the natural feel we created. We found that edging towards a dark, slightly contrasted look, best suited the images from the camera as well as the overall story.
The one scene which was very interesting in this project is the moment when we see the character’s life as an almost dream-like sequence from the car window. I came up with a few ideas for this and the look we decided worked best was a strong cyan with slight chromatic aberration around the edges of the image. This flowed best with the cyan highlights we had added to the rest of the film and the chromatic aberration added an otherworldly feel while still being in the natural world."
Watch Savanah Leaf’s ‘F Word’ here.