Tribeca: Seven Questions for Alexandra McGuinness
Seven questions for Alexandra McGuinness, writer and director of Lotus Eaters
What was your original basis for wanting to do Lotus Eaters?
Alexandra McGuinness: I had always had the idea floating around. I went to London when I was seventeen and it was a bit of a culture shock; the idea mostly originated from that experience. I think it’s an idea that a lot of people can relate to—it’s about being at that stage in your life where you’re searching for something, or maybe you’ve taken the wrong direction by making the wrong choices and you’re trying to right yourself, or maybe you’re just looking for something different.
Were there parts of the story that were based on personal experiences?
McGuinness: Well I think every filmmaker takes things from their own life experiences when telling a story, but it’s not an autobiography in any way. It’s a conversation I just recently heard, although, I think that would be terrible! [laughs] But there are definitely little things in there, little elements more than the bigger picture that are personal for me. A filmmaker has to have something personal in it from them to want to make the film in the first place. I think anyone who’s been in a relationship and has portrayed a relationship in a movie takes license from that. There’s little bits between [the characters] Alice and Charlie that I’ve taken from relationships that I’ve been in.
How was the collaboration process between you and Brandon on the script?
McGuinness: I came to him with an original draft and then we reworked it entirely. So there’s a lot of him in there. He can take credit almost entirely for the Orna and Bennedict characters; he’s much stronger with narrative. If I’m left on my own, I’d have people talking with very little happening. When we work together, I focus more on the dialog and he fleshes the story out.
What was the biggest challenge in the filming process for you?
McGuinness: There were a lot of challenges. We had eleven main characters, we were shooting in England and Ireland, and France, and Glastonbury, we had three car crashes, one of which is not in the film . . . we had monkeys and horses and all sorts of animals, some actors who hadn’t worked before and a low budget. Every day brought all sorts of challenges, but it was an amazing ride. I think post-production quite difficult, because you have to make so many choices in the editing room. It was a hassle, but in a good way.
Is there anything that you got out of the filming of Lotus Eaters that you’ll take with you into your next project? Any learning lessons?
McGuinness: There’s so many things that I’d take from it but would also do differently. Because we made the film so quickly, I’d definitely like to take a little more time with the next film, if only for my own personal welfare! [laughs]
What was your favourite scene or moment from the film?
McGuinness: I kind of loved the scene with the lemur, with Suzie cutting up all of Felix’s clothes. That always makes me happy when that scene shows up. But I also loved shooting all the scenes with the live bands; they were definitely the most fun to shoot. They were all just a relief to everyone. With those scenes we just got really hot and sweaty and jumped around for half the day!
Of the bands that perform in the film, which one was your favourite?
McGuinness: I loved them all, and this probably changes on a weekly basis at the moment, but I really loved Little Death’s performance of “Just Say Maybe”.