Antonio Pasolini: You said in the press statement that Unrelated started off with autobiographical material but then it took on a life of its own. Could you describe this process of creation?
Joanna Hogg: I begin with a desire to express something intensely felt. But this is not a precise chronology of events that happened in my life. It is an internal map rather than an external one. And the crucial thing for me is to depict that core of emotion in as clear and true a way as possible. So after this soul searching, the ideas gradually expand and my imagination starts to kick in. But throughout the writing process, my imagination is constantly challenged by a need to be emotionally true.
Pasolini: Unrelated shows a fine balance between stylized, almost painterly scenes, and more naturalistic moments. How did it take shape in terms of visuals?
Hogg: I knew early on that I wanted the camera to be very still. But into this stillness I wanted to throw a lot of life and chaos. That the two seemingly opposing styles would rub against each other and the frame could burst out beyond what you actually see. I wanted to encourage the audience to imagine what might be just around the perimeter of the frame.
Pasolini: The actors’ performances look very naturalistic and spontaneous, although the film seems quite tightly scripted.
Hogg: I began the filming process with a fully developed script in my hands but knew I wanted the film to grow and not confine it to the limits of my life or my imagination. As a director I feel it is the only intelligent approach to take. Naturally ideas occur as you go along, and I wanted to embrace those possibilities and to absolutely allow for spontaneity as you say. With the actors I wanted to create an environment in which they would feel nurtured and contained. So they could tread the line between being themselves yet also be playing a part.
Pasolini: I’ve seen Ozu, Rohmer and Renoir referenced in texts about your film. You mention Renoir in the press statement. Who are your influences?
Hogg: Tsai Ming-Liang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Hirokazu Koreeda and Nuri Bilge Ceylan are all contemporary directors I love. And of course the three directors you have already mentioned, to which I would also add Rossellini. It was not only films that influenced me. While I was writing I was inspired by the novels Death in Venice and The Go-Between. A book I dip into constantly is Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography.
Pasolini: What were the most obstructing difficulties you came across when you decided to make your first film?
Antonio Pasolini is a film critic and video-art curator based in Brazil and the UK. He is the former editor of Kamera.co.uk, where this article was original published.
England, 2007, 100m
Directed and written: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Kathryn Worth, Harry Kershaw and Emma Hiddleston