This new queer short film from Emmalie El Fadli is one that so many queer individuals can relate to
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
From A To Q, directed and written by Emmalie El Fadli, is a new short film that explores the story of 22-year-old Alex who wakes suddenly from a dream in which she kisses Kayla.
Who doesn’t love a steamy dream kiss? Well, the problem here is that Kayla happens to be Alex’s best friend and Alex has never been with a girl before.
Starring Sophie Rivers and Holly Ashman as Alex and Kayla, this highly anticipated queer film explores the well known tale of falling for more than just friendship and is screening online for this year’s virtual BFI Flare. We caught up with the London based writer/director/editor Emmalie El Fadli to hear more about how she brought this dream to the screen.
DIVA: When did the writing process begin for your film From A To Q?
Emmalie El Fadi: I started writing From A To Q towards the end of 2019. I think I had just finished watching season three of Atypical, and something about Casey and Izzie’s storyline got me thinking about my own experiences with my (at the time) best friend, and that’s where From A To Q stemmed from. We were then meant to go into production in April 2020, but because of lockdown, we had to postpone, which gave me more time to refine the script.
It’s a big job to take on the role of writer and director – did you ever have any doubts about doing both?
Oh 100%! I’ve written scripts almost my whole life, but taking the steps to actually making those scripts a reality through directing is a novelty. In life, I’m very much a follower and not a leader, so when I had to suddenly tell people what I wanted, that was a very strange experience. Also, I’m an editor by trade so to go from working by myself to having to direct loads of people was very new to me. One thing is for sure though, being the director to something you’ve written does give you an advantage because you know exactly what you want. On top of that, being an editor as well really helps you see the film as a whole before you’ve even started production, which helps a lot when directing.
How did you go about casting the film?
I’d worked with Holly Ashman (who plays Kayla) before, so for me that was a no brainer since she was so great in the first film I directed. For Alex’s character though, I put out a casting call. We had all of the actors audition against Holly to insure there was good chemistry, as that is my main objective when casting for any film, and ultimately we loved the way Sophie Rivers portrayed the character and her chemistry with Holly was undeniable.
So many queer films focus on the coming out story – how did you give that a fresh perspective?
Before I answer this question, I do need to mention that for me, coming out stories are always important, regardless of whether they’re all the same or not.
But when it comes to From A To Q, I’ve stopped thinking of it as a coming out story. For me it’s more a story of self discovery, which turns into so much more.
What did your own journey to self discovery look like?
My journey to self discovery started in middle school whereas Alex’s started a little bit later in life. Also, unlike Alex, I didn’t have the luxury of the internet to turn to with all my burning questions. Instead I had to confide in friends that I trusted to help me understand what I was feeling. I wanted this kind of friendship to be represented between Alex and Kayla. But when it comes to daydreaming about the first girl I had a crush on, that was very much all the same as what Alex is going through in the film.
How can people support the film now that it’s in the second round of fundraising?
People can support it by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign, as we’re currently raising funds to help cover our post production costs. This includes colour grading, sound design, visual effect and film festival submissions.
Even though we’ve reached our target, this doesn’t take into account the fees that will be taken out, and any future film festival submissions. Therefore, we would really appreciate any help possible, regardless of the target.
What other queer films did you draw inspiration from?
Film wise, I drew inspiration from Love, Simon, Booksmart, Lady Bird and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but also from shows like Atypical, Sex Education and I Am Not OK With This. They all deal with the characters’ inner conflicts with sexuality and finding their true sense of self, which is a very prominent theme in From A To Q.
What have you learnt from the process of making From A To Q?
The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that confidence is key and that you always need to make sure you have a good team behind you, supporting you along the way, and working with you to make something great. If you feel like something isn’t working, then you need to be honest and make it known, because at the end of the day, you’re trying to make the best film possible, for yourself and the audience.
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