Interview With Director/Editor Jacob Melling and Actor/Writer Amy Cotter: Fish Out Of Water

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview editor/director Jacob Melling and actor/writer Amy Cotter about their new film Fish Out Of Water, which tells the tale of an anxious person, played by Cotter, trying to navigate the hellishly social world of the adult.           In this interview we discuss issues of anxiety, poetry and early morning bathing  . I hope you enjoy.  

Q: What made you want to make this film?

JM: Post pandemic I was looking to do a low budget Independent film that really pushed myself creatively whilst having fun and working some creative like minded people. I had been wanting to work with my good Amy since previously working on a short film with her. She is a very talented poet and had sent me this poem called ‘Fish out of Water’ and reading it for the first time I found it so relatable, funny and truthful and I immediately knew it would be fantastic as a short film.

Q: Why choose to feature poetry so heavily?

AC: I wanted to make a film using a process and form I’d not tried before, with a written poem as stimulus and developing the film from there. We wanted to experiment with comedy and rhythm usually reserved for performance poetry and see if it would work. I was especially keen to work with a musician to mainly improvise in the studio, discovering Fish’s thoughts in music and culminating in a thoughtful and beautiful sound track. It was important to us to collaborate with a brilliant team of creatives to bring the characters and aspects of Fish’s world and worries to life. To the voice of her Friend to the credit song- each aspect as important as each other.

Q: The ocean serves as an apt metaphor, however, what inspired that visual element?

AC: We wanted to portray a calming dreamlike alternative world that contrasted to the dreary domestic anxiety of Fish’s reality. The ocean serves as Fish’s go-to ‘happy place’, where she can keep her head above water.

Q: What was the message of this film?

AC: I think there are any number of  messages in the film, hopefully it speaks to whichever part of the viewer that needs soothing. I think it’s an intimate insight into social anxiety and shines a light on the domestic demons we face, sometimes on a daily basis. I also hope it’s an entertaining comfort to a generation unsettled by our growing strains and stresses.

Q: Do you have any funny on-set stories?

JM & AC: During the bath scenes there was a local festival going on so we had to keep restarting the dunking in and out of the bath. A lot of water was swallowed. It was a very joyful summer soundtrack to our luke warm morning of 4 hours in the bath- and VERY hard not to sing along to Sister Sledge.

Q: What was your favourite moment from production?

AC: My favourite part of production was probably getting into the studio to do the ADR and music. Playing the full film to our composer and seeing him improvise to it was magical! A culmination of everyones hard work right there, a very special moment seeing that happen. Also sighing and scoffing into a microphone for 10 minutes for the foley sounds is always fun!

Q: Future projects?

AC: We might develop the next part of Fish’s story, using everything we have learnt about merging poetry and filmmaking. I’d like to make more poetry shorts, different poets, different stories, and experimenting with this style of storytelling, so we are always on the look out for creatives and collaborators to work with!

Q: Do you have any advice for upcoming filmmakers?

JM & AC: If you have even a half formed idea that you want to develop, approach some like-minded dreamers, get a little team together and make it happen. We all need support and I’m so grateful that our tiny team got behind the poem and made it happen.

Keep making films! Keep creating. Keep pushing yourself. I’m nowhere near where I want to be as a filmmaker, but each film I make I learn from and improve. Each experience I also go on to make so many amazing connections and creative relationships just like I have with Amy and the rest of the team working on ‘Fish’.

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