Jade Courtney Edwards who won the Official Selection for Los Angeles Lift-Off 2015 with her short film ‘Aurélia.’ It is a coming-of-age story set in the French Riviera. Living with a work-obsessed mother and an aggressive step-father, Aurelia struggles to accept the absence of her father. Thrust into a place of instability, with no adults to seek guidance from, Aurelia is left to deal with the growing pains of youth on her own.
Why Los Angeles Lift-Off 2015 audience loved it…
“It’s a gorgeous film that very nearly hit the winners spot. It isn’t a story that takes the simple route of glorifying a rebellious life, or centering purely on a romance or over hashing the conflict. What Jade Edwards has done, in a very eloquent way, is simply show the frustrations of being young and ignored by your guardians. The annoying irritations of wobbling along that rope-bridge of child into adulthood, but also exploring the opportunities and excitement given by entering those dusk till dawn moments displayed as tasty and romantic windows of freedom. It is shot well and the scenery is beautiful, creating a really delicate juxtaposition against the lead characters perspective. One feels that this might be slightly semi-autobiographical as it is pitched to perfection.’
Jade Courtney Edwards: It shows a part of the world we feel that the attending audience in LA will get lost within. We have a high volume matching the demographic, not necessarily generational, but certainly in terms of background to that of the lead character – whom they will instantly relate.
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I grew up between the South of France and London.
Film Courage: Were your parents supportive of your creativity? Were they artists?
Jade Courtney Edwards: Yes, I am lucky in that my parents have been very supportive of creativity. My dad was a F1 racing driver and my mum is a property developer, so no, they’re not artists, although my mum does have a background in art restoration and fashion, so she is very creative. I think she brings that through in the designs for her properties.
Jade Courtney Edwards: It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly. I originally wanted to do acting, but on my ‘gap year’ I had the fortune of working as an assistant director on feature film, ‘Thick as Thieves,’ and that was when I realized I wanted to be behind the camera, not in front of it. So I applied to a film school called Tisch, and I would say that it was during my four years there where I discovered the ‘how to’ of film. But the real magic of film and what made me want to write and direct, was when a friend introduced me to Ingmar Bergman when I was 17. We watched The Seventh Seal, and that was transformational for me. I became completely obsessed with Bergman.
Film Courage: What was the first film you watched as a child?
Jade Courtney Edwards: The first film I recall watching was The Land Before Time, which was an animated film that is actually very traumatizing for a child – it’s so sad!
Jade Courtney Edwards: It depends on what chapter of it we are talking about…
Film Courage: What is the synopsis for Aurélia?
Jade Courtney Edwards: Set in the French Riviera, this coming-of-age drama follows 14-year old Aurelia in her attempt to navigate the complexities of adolescence. Living with a work-obsessed mother and an aggressive step-father, Aurelia struggles to accept the absence of her father. Thrust into a place of instability, with no adults to seek guidance from, Aurelia is left to cope with the growing pains of youth alone.
Film Courage: What was your first step in writing the story? What inspired it?
Jade Courtney Edwards: Well, this was my thesis film for Tisch. I had originally written a completely different script – but it was set in the same location – I knew I wanted to shoot a film in the South of France because I have many memories there and so feel connected to it. My professor read the first script and told me I need to ‘dig deeper.’ He made me realize it is important to tell a story that really resonates, that you feel connected to. So it was over Christmas break where I woke up one morning and just started writing, and I had no idea where this was coming from or where it was going, but it was very personal and felt organic.
Film Courage: How personal were the characters to you?
Jade Courtney Edwards: Pretty personal.
Jade Courtney Edwards: We shot on location in Cap d’Ail and Monaco.
Film Courage: How did you cast your actors?
Jade Courtney Edwards: We had a casting director in Paris, where we held auditions over two days. Eden was the first girl to audition for Aurélia, and I knew instantly that she was it.
Film Courage: What was crucial for your main character to convey?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I think one of the most important things that I wanted Eden to convey was a certain sensitivity, a softness. I find with teenagers, even when they are reactive, it is coming from a genuine place. When we’re young we are incredibly sensitive and malleable, still making sense of the world around us and shaping our own ideology, something that is inevitably lost as we get older. I like the rawness of youth, and that was something I really wanted Eden to convey.
Film Courage: What was the shoot like?
Jade Courtney Edwards: The shoot was great. We had a crew of about 20 (excluding cast) and shot over 5 days. My mum had the hefty job of doing catering, but it was some of the best set food I’ve had (and I’m not being biased I promise!) Eden had just turned 16 so she came without her parents. The only minor we had we shot in a day, so it was fairly straightforward.
Film Courage: Was there a moment on set that self like the film would not complete?
Jade Courtney Edwards: One scene we weren’t able to shoot due to a storm tin Monaco that literally appeared out of nowhere as we were setting up for the scene, so I had about 3 minutes to decide whether the film could work without it and if it couldn’t how I could rewrite the scene so we could shoot it. I decided it couldn’t do without it and so we stole the scene by shooting in an underground car park. It was a really testing day as we had been working long hours, were over time and my actors were tired. Everyone was a sport and pulled through, but that was certainly a challenging day.
Film Courage: How did you raise money for the film?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I did it through Indiegogo crowd funding.
Film Courage: What was your biggest production cost?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I think the biggest production cost was travel. Most of the crew were from the UK so we had to cover cost of flights. Camera equipment was also pretty hefty.
Film Courage: What are some of your favorite coming-of-age films?
Jade Courtney Edwards: Christiane F, This Boy’s Life, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Blue Is the Warmest Color…the list goes on, but those are some of my top picks.
Film Courage: How did the audience react when you exhibited the film at the London Lift Off Film Festival?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I was on a shoot in LA, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to be there for the official night. I heard it was a great night in a beautiful location with a versatile pick of films that the audience seemed to enjoy.
Film Courage: What will your next project be?
Jade Courtney Edwards: I’m working on several different projects right now. I’m writing a feature, which will be my next tunnel vision project, and I’m very excited about it. I’ve just co-written a short called ‘The Lonely Whale’ – our Kickstarter for it just got staff pick which is cool. It’s a really endearing short film which we will be shooting in NYC in a couple of months. Both of those projects come under a company I have with my business partner, which is called LANDED. We team up together to write and direct commercial projects like PSAs, music videos and such, you can check it out and stay up to date via our website here: Landedny.com.
Jade Courtney Edwards is a writer and director based between Los Angeles, New York and London. She went to Tisch School of the Arts in New York where she earned her BFA in Film and TV Production. She is co-partner of creative house, LANDED, where she has several music videos, shorts and features in development.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL:
Liverpool Lift-Off is part of the Lift-Off International Film Festivals, dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists in an unbiased environment and free from any commercial pressures. Student films are programmed alongside professional/ independent films and every film that is submitted is treated equally and voted on individual merit alone. A large budget and glossy production value means nothing to the folks at Lift-Off – the only focus is great delivery of an honest story. The motto is to “Look beyond the gloss. Put talent before technology.”
Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival is one of six international Lift-Off events and takes place from 12-14 March. The other Lift-Off events take place in Las Vegas, LA, Amsterdam, London and Tokyo. Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival is free to attend, enabling submission fees to directly donate to bringing more audience to independent work. Lift-Off believe strongly in their filmmakers getting value for their submission fee and so every one is given extensive support and advice on topics such as marketing, crowd-funding and artistic development. Lift-Off’s aim is to create a network of creatives to one day become an industry of their own, where talent is king and hard work rewarded.
The festival also offers an option to receive extensive feedback and grades on submitted works, regardless of selection – another factor that makes Lift-Off unique from other festivals. With 700+ overall global entrants, the Liverpool leg of Lift-Off promises an array of films from animations, live action narrative and documentaries. As is always the case with Lift-Off, winners are selected via audience choice and will be awarded with introductions to directorial agents and booking managers, as well as the chance to have their work reviewed by the national and international press. Lift-Off wish to bring back the art of film-making and, most importantly, to bring back the talent behind it.
If any of our readers are filmmakers and wish to benefit from a discount to submit they may use the submission code LiverpoolIndie for a 25% discount. Final deadline for submissions is February 20th.