Magazine article Screen International

Deborah Haywood Talks Striking Debut 'Pin Cushion' Ahead of IFFR Live Screening

Magazine article Screen International

Deborah Haywood Talks Striking Debut 'Pin Cushion' Ahead of IFFR Live Screening

Article excerpt

Director discusses her debut feature, which premiered at Venice.

Writer-director Deborah Haywood announces herself as a striking new voice in British cinema with her feature directorial debut Pin Cushion.

The film premiered at Venice Critics Week in 2017 and will be the opening film for International Film Festival Rotterdam’s IFFR Live programme on Jan 26, during which it will screen at more than 45 cinemas worldwide and will also be avaialble on the festival’s VoD platform.

Lily Newmark and Joanna Scanlan star in the all-girl gothic fairy tale as Iona and Lyn, a daughter and mother who both struggle adjusting to life in a new town - particularly when the daughter meets a new group of frenemies at school.

Haywood first met Pin Cushion’s producer Gavin Humphries of Quark Films when they were introduced as Screen International Stars of Tomorrow in 2007; they stayed in touch while she made shorts and also developed the debut feature at the Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam.

Pin Cushion was developed with Creative England and BFI’s NET.WORK and funded by the BFI Film Fund and Maggie Monteith’s Dignity Films. Stray Dogs handles international sales.

Haywood will be in Rotterdam for the IFFR Live Q&A alongside the film’s cast member Lily Newmark.

Pin Cushion

How did this story evolve for you, is it something you’ve had in your head a long time?

Yes. Since 2008, when I wrote the treatment. I think it needed that long for it to brew… Because it’s so personal it somehow makes it harder to “see”.

How did you cast Joanna Scanlan and Lily Newmark and what’s special about each of them?

Casting director Kharmel Cochrane and her wonderful team helped secure Joanna, who was my first choice for Lyn. As well as being an incredible actress and being super smart, she has an unpredictability behind her eyes, which means you can’t stop looking at her.

Lily has a similar thing. Kharmel’s team saw hundreds of girls and sent me a bunch of tapes to watch and none of them were Iona (although some were definitely the other girls). Then I saw Lily and thought, ‘Wow, she’s got an unusual face.’ She looks like a rare beautiful salmon. I pressed play and fell in love with her. And when we met, she related to the script really strongly having been bullied herself. Plus she has a really close bond with her mum.

What was it like moving from making short films to making your first feature, was it a big learning curve or did the transition feel quite natural?

I’m still finding it a massive learning curve but at the same time it felt easier to make a feature than a short film because of the incredible support I had around me. Shorts are much lonelier because you don’t have that time to build relationships.

Why did you decide to shoot in your old hometown - Swadlincote, South Derbyshire - and in your former school? …

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