This article is from our ‘Celebration of Women’ campaign and first ASLI Magazine issue:
Lorraine Nolan, aged 33, based in London, originally from Ireland; initially trained as an actor worked in theatre before returning to college to study Film-making. Lorraine’s move to London was to pursue an MA in Film at Goldsmiths University of London, specialising in directing.
Here is our interview with Lorraine:
What motivated you to deal with the subject of rape in your art?
When I was studying my MA in 2009, a census was published exploring UK university student’s attitude to rape culture. The report included questions such as:
When is a woman not/partially/fully responsible for being raped in a list of scenarios such as walking down a dark alley late at night, or wearing revealing clothing?
I was really disturbed to discover the large percentages of students who, in a western culture in 2009, perceived that a woman is partially or fully responsible for her own rape in any of the given situations.
Upon further research into rape and violence against women, I discovered the insanely low convictions for the crime and indeed that most rapes are committed by a person close to the victim.
This led to my re-engagement with Lucretia, a classical figure that has appeared in art through the ages, painted by a wide range of artists including Titian, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Artemisia Gentileschi. She has also featuring in literature and music; Benjamin Britten has composed an opera about her. Lucretia was a Roman noble woman whose rape by the kings nephew Tarquinius, and her consequent suicide, caused the downfall of the Roman monarchy in 509BC and the establishment of the first Roman Republic.
This reaction to that crime in 509BC leaves me dumbfounded at the rape culture that still prevails today and I decided to re-imagine Lucretia’s story in a modern setting where victims mostly carry their burden alone, let down by society and government.
Lucretia was a Roman noble woman whose famous rape and subsequent suicide in 509 BC caused the downfall of the Roman Monarchy. Lowly Lucretia is a modern day domestic rape tragedy where the only downfall is that of the victim.
16mm Film, produced at Goldsmiths University of London.
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
I moved from acting and theatre to film-making, which I think is a natural progression. I have always loved film, music, and particularly drama and working as a writer/director means that I get to work across a multitude of roles from working with actors, developing ideas and stories, to edit and sound design. I enjoy being across all the creative elements that bring moving images to life.
What is your process when creating?
It varies from project to project, in my TV Creative role I usually work to briefs. In my personal projects I start with the idea and research around it. I then spend time writing, and developing and flesh it out with friends who I collaborate with. Collaboration is key! Once I have a script ready to go, I then rely on the specialist talents of all the people I work with, from cinematographers to production designers. I assemble a crew of skilled people, and have been very lucky to work with such talented people again and again.
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
It is not an exhaustive list; influences are everywhere! I am inspired by the visual arts, music, fashion, literature and design. Currently I am very much inspired by the beautiful film Ida, and just discovering the work of artist Marlene Dumas.
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
Feminism to me means equality and freedom. I am definitely a feminist. How can seeking equality across all areas of my life be a thing I wouldn’t want? Why would any person want their daughter doing the same job as a man to be paid less solely because she is female? It’s a serious issue that still needs a lot of fighting for, and to me being a feminist is inclusive of men, women, and the LGBT community, it is equality for everyone.
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
The celebration of women across the month of March captured my imagination, and again I felt it was the perfect home for Lowly Lucretia.
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
In the work place, a woman that knows what she wants can be seen as being aggressive, whilst a man displaying the same tendencies is seen as a go-getter. And female stereotypes in film are perpetuated by a mostly male dominated industry.
In terms of female directors there are so many agencies in London without any female directors on their books, which I really find sad. Recently a cinematographer that worked with me commented that the agency that hired him was surprised that he had worked with so many female directors!
There are plenty of women directing but not enough industry support. Things are changing but slowly and I am hopeful that more women will work across the industry as a whole to enrich female representation. But this problem not only extends to women it is also a challenge faced by ethnic minorities and their representation in film and TV both on-screen and off.
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
There are equality issues in almost all societies globally; women can’t drive a car in Saudi Arabia, women have no reproductive rights in Ireland as the government refuses to implement abortion rights even in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities, women in UK are not represented equally in government and so on; there is an endless list of global inequality. I once worked with a woman who had the same skill-set and experience as her male colleague but found out her pay was 10K less than him when they were both doing the same job! Insane!
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
I am passionate about female representation and I like writing stories for strong female characters.
Also Ireland has two issues to deal with that are close to my heart. There is a referendum in May to vote for Marriage Equality, which I am hoping that Irish people take to the polls in support of.
And previously I mentioned abortion rights in Ireland, which are non-existent and resulted in the death of Salvita Halappanavar, who died from septicaemia from a hospital’s refusal to terminate her pregnancy after it was discovered she was miscarrying. She was told by the hospital that they could not carry out the termination, as it was the law, that Ireland was a Catholic country. Truly awful that a dying foetus was given more rights to life than the life of a woman. How is that Pro-Life?
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
All civilisations have made art; it is an extension of what it is to be human. The inner-self expressed through all kinds of wonderful, creative ways. I believe art has the power to save lives, if a child has been through a trauma psychologist’s look to the art they create to discover their inner feelings and help them overcome distress. Art can make people laugh, forget their woes, provide escapism, and enrich imagination. It can challenge people to think, raise anger, cause controversy, educate, divide people and bring people together. For me it provides fulfilment and I become anxious if I am not working on some sort of creative project.
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
I just want to be a good storyteller and make engaging work.
What are your goals as with your art?
I hope to one day direct a feature film, and would like to have the opportunity to eventually work full-time on my own personal projects.
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
I am very excited to be collaborating on a female led comedy sitcom with two very talented women, writer Rhiannon Carr and writer/director Ciara Kennedy. I am also developing a short fiction film that is part animation, which is a new area for me, but I am very excited to get both projects off the ground this year. A dream is to get some music projects happening too if I can find the time. I need more hours in the week!
And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?
Only to say thank you so much for connecting with my film and for the opportunity to reach to a wider audience.
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