Andrea Arnold

Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights director Andrea Arnold recently spent over a month in the U.S. as the first filmmaker-in-residence at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Her residency coincided with the most recent New York Film Festival. She answered some questions via e-mail for Women and Hollywood upon her departure from the U.S about her experience.

Women and Hollywood: So how was your experience as the first Film Society of Lincoln Center Filmmaker in Residence?

Andrea Arnold: It involved a lot of different things. Getting feedback on my new script from some New York mentors. Talking to kids making films in schools. Posh dinners at Lincoln Center. Doing Karaoke in Coney Island. Making notes for my second draft. Getting lost on my bike daily in Manhattan. Being wrestled physically onto the red carpet to have my photo taken at Lincoln Center. Seeing films at New York Film Festival. Arguing about films at parties after. Talking about my own work to an audience. Walking those great bridges over the Hudson. More posh dinners at Lincoln Center. Two-step dancing at the Big Apple Ranch. Laying in the grass on Roosevelt Island and marveling that you could hear insects. Starting the second draft of my script. Getting to know my new producers Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen. Meeting lots of crew for my new film. Riding the Staten Island ferry. Researching a documentary idea I have about America. I did a lot. I got to know New York and when I come back to make my film, I will not feel like a stranger there. 

WaH: Did you notice a different kind of film sensibility here than there is in Europe?

AA: I was in film school in LA some years ago and I loved it. Loved the enthusiasm. There was a can-do attitude that I really responded to. But I haven't made anything in America yet. I think I will be able to answer that better when I have actually made a film here. Can you ask me next year?

WaH: I know you are shooting your next film in NY. Can you give us a bit of information of what the film is about?

AA: I might shoot a bit of the film in New York. But mostly it's about middle America. I am never one to speak much about works in progress, but it's a road movie about runaway kids selling magazine subscriptions around the U.S. Runaway teenagers selling door-to-door. I have been nursing this project for several years after seeing an article in the New York Times. It's going to involve lots of wild kids, Rihanna and a bear.

WaH: You've done some events in NY with young people. How was the reaction here to Fish Tank?

AA: They watched a short I made called "Wasp" before I went and the teachers told me that it created a very noisy debate before I arrived.

WaH: When you were on the Cannes jury in 2012 there was some controversy about the lack of women directors in competition. Do you have any thoughts as to why this is still such a problem in the business?

AA: I have been asked this question so many times and I can never come up with an easy answer. There are plenty of woman in the film industry in positions of power. Financiers, producers, writers, but less directors. I do not know why this is. But it's not just a film industry issue.

WaH: What do you think the biggest challenges are over the next five years for the film business?

AA: When I was in New York I heard many people saying that the independent film industry was in big trouble. I was reflecting on this when I came home. Realizing that ever since I started filmmaking, people have being saying that. But somehow it keeps going. Filmmakers keep going. We need stories to make sense of the world and some people like me are driven to tell them. I have faith this will always be possible.

WaH: What advice do you have for female filmmakers?

AA: Sleep your way to the top.