The Women of ‘Wednesday in Space’: Kate Briggs-Price

Okay, so we’re months into lockdown and you’ve probably watched just about everything there is to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus. Everything feels the same. Luckily, some students and graduates from the University of Southampton have made a film called Wednesday in Space.  It’s about a small diner in space, a mysterious murder and the traffic-warden-turned-detective who decides to solve it.

The dark comedy is Hudson Hughes’ debut feature, and was something of a passion project, filmed over the space of 5 days in a garage in Reading with zero budget. The team who made it is working to get it into cinemas in November. If you needed something to look forward to in these trying times, this is it!

In honour of the film’s upcoming release, we’re interviewing the women of Wednesday in Space to ask them some of our most burning questions about the film. This week, we spoke to Kate Briggs-Price, the script supervisor, actress and publicist turned, in her own words, ‘all-round dogsbody’.

So, what was your role?

Initially, I just saw that Ben was making a film and I was like, I need to get involved! I messaged him like, ‘Can I do anything?’ Initially I came on as a production assistant, as I’d made films before. I said, ‘I’ll be anything you need me to be.’ I wasn’t expecting him to turn up and be told on the day that they needed me to act as an actress had dropped out! So I played Polyester Jones. I was told it was a small role but it turned out to be one of the main ones. When I wasn’t shooting, I handled the schedule, made sure people were where they were supposed to be, helped build the set. I made sure that everyone had what they needed when they needed it. Obviously making a feature film in 5 days is begging for chaos to ensue, especially when you have about a dozen students all in a house together and you’re shooting for about 16 hours a day so everyone’s running on, like, 3 hours of sleep. My job was basically to shout at people! I’m joking, I didn’t shout at anyone but I made sure things were getting done.

How did you realise this was something you wanted to pursue?

I did an undergraduate in English at the University of Southampton, and I did a year abroad in Germany. Before I went abroad, I was involved with the student television station but I was pretty shy. After going abroad, my confidence skyrocketed. I was like, I’ve just lived in Germany out of nowhere for a year, I can make a film! Things weren’t as scary as I thought. So now I’m doing a masters in global media management. I love all types of creativity but I’m a really visual person so films are what I find the easiest and most enjoyable. I literally don’t care if it’s my film or any film, I love them all and I want to be involved! Currently, I have my own production and videography company that I’ve been developing over lockdown, called Keep Busy Productions. So I’ve been making a lot of films through that, whether for businesses or indie filmmakers. I hope to keep that going and growing in the future, but I would also like to join a bigger production company, too.

What is it like to be a woman involved in filmmaking? Do you think there are any specific struggles, or maybe opportunities, that come with being a woman in this field?

I think it’s a balance. Often on a professional set it can be very physical work, you know, lifting things, running around. It can be physically intense. Sometimes people assume that because you’re a woman, you’re less capable, which I don’t think is the case. With shooting, obviously cameras are heavy, rigs are heavy, so a lot of the time people assume men can do it better because they’re stronger. But as technology advances that’s not necessarily the case, things are getting easier. Beyond that, set life is quite rough and tumble, you don’t have time to do makeup, you’re out in the mud. Come rain or shine, it has to be done. It doesn’t necessarily gel with what people think of as ‘womanhood’, which in my opinion is an outdated idea anyway but it means it can feel like a bit of a lad’s group, and you feel a pressure to prove them wrong. It’s ridiculous that you have to feel like you have to prove them wrong, but it doesn’t mean it’s not possible. If you love filmmaking you can do it. And now people are looking more for skilled women they can hire as that’s the exciting thing. You may have to work harder to be seen, but once you’re seen you can go further, because you’re filling a niche.

Who are your favourite female filmmakers, actresses, etc? Is there any woman in the field right now who you look at and think, wow, she’s killing it!

Am I allowed to talk about women I’ve worked with personally? Bella and Natalia, who are in Wednesday in Space, I think they’re such class actresses in terms of just absolutely owning the screen. You watch the film and your gaze is just drawn to them. Even in other things I’ve seen them in, they’re just captivating. It’s just so clear that they’re two people who genuinely have passion and love for acting. I can watch it and see that they’re not just my friends, they’re performers. You support it not because you’re mates with them but because they’re genuinely so good and you love watching them.

I guess at the moment it’s nice to see female cinematographers and directors, but for me it’s mainly people around me that I like to watch more because that’s who I compare myself to. But in the industry there’s this German woman called Ulla Strieb. She’s not famous but she was involved with a documentary called Touching the Void. It won a BAFTA and she was the production manager on that. I got the opportunity to work with her, and she was one of those boss women who is polite, to the point, and just got stuff done. With every man she worked with, there was this clear hierarchy and you could see immediately that she was at the top. You just looked at her and respected her. It wasn’t based on ‘because I’m a woman in the industry you respect me’, but because she’s good at the job. She’s in charge of like 3 different production companies!

Touching the Void, which she worked on, was also a film that really spoke to me. It’s about mountain-climbers, and I actually used to be into mountaineering myself. Unfortunately, a couple of friends of mine passed away while mountaineering and I realised it was quite a dangerous hobby, and that’s when I got more into filmmaking. But it’s interesting to see how the two can merge. Free Solo is another one, and that’s an interesting one because you have to think about the ethics of the film you’re making. It follows Alex Honnold who is attempting to climb a 3000 foot cliff face without any ropes, and the filmmakers have to come to terms with the fact that not only are they filming their friend doing this really dangerous stunt that could end really badly, but by filming it you could actually contribute to it if something was to go wrong. So in a sense, filmmaking becomes an extreme sport of its own. I think filmmaking has a lot of dynamics that are sort of overlooked, it raises some ethical questions that are really important to think about.

But overall, I look more to the people I know personally for inspiration, to answer your question!

What was the biggest challenge of making the film?

I think the logistics of it were probably the biggest challenge. I drove straight from a festival to the set, we were all sleeping together in a communal space, it was 16 hour days or longer for basically a week straight. It was very intense to spend that much time with people who I didn’t really know that well to begin with. It was like a pressure cooker, young people worked on no sleep in limited space to make a feature film in 5 days. Also the film is funny, but you didn’t necessarily see it all coming together because there was just so much going on. One minute you were in a soup kitchen, then someone’s been murdered. It didn’t connect while we were filming. Ben was like, ‘We need to blow up an apple with some dynamite,’ and I was like, ‘Where does this even go in the narrative?’ The film is so chaotic that at times you really weren’t sure how it was going to come together. We really had to trust Ben’s vision, and all we could do was follow his direction to the best of our ability.

What’s your favourite line of dialogue?

This is so niche, but like I mentioned, there’s this character called Stu, and he has a line that cracks me up every time. When we go to the soup kitchen, Stu asks, ‘Do you serve goulash?’ and the owner says, ‘No, we don’t serve stew.’ So Stu gets up to leave and I have to stop him. Hardly anyone gets it because at that point we haven’t really introduced Stu properly so people don’t really think of him as Stu yet, but it was my favourite line by far. I ruined so many takes by laughing!

Wednesday in Space promises to be a fun watch, if the fun they had on set is anything to go by. Make sure to keep checking the film’s website for updates as to when the film will be available to watch, and check out Keep Busy Productions for information on Kate’s other projects.

Follow this link to the Kickstarter campaign.

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