Flying Blind: An Interview With Katarzyna Klimkiewicz

Flying Blind tells the story of Frankie, an aerospace engineer who embarks on an unlikely relationship with young student Kahil, throwing her into a spiraling world of suspicion and prejudice. The film is a feature premier from director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz. BRWC spoke to Klimkiewicz about her full-length movie debut.

How did you go about getting the role as director?

Flying Blind is my first feature film. I had my first short Hanoi-Warszawa shown at Encounters short film festival in Bristol where I met Alison Sterling. She liked my piece so she pitched me the idea at the festival and that’s how we started to work on this together. So the idea came from her originally.

What was it like collaborating with the other writers? Also, did you enjoy working with Alison?

It was great with Alison. From the beginning we had an amazing working relationship. We both like similar films and we have similar ambitions about what we want to do as film makers. With the writers, we had a few problems. We had to split with the first one so we ended up with several: Caroline, Bruce and Naomi. It was great to work with them but over all I think it was a slightly difficult process to collaborate with such a variety. In the end it came together, but because I had not had experience before with this, there were a few struggles.

How did this project differ from your previous work? Was it intimidating jumping from the independently made short films to a full length feature?

Yes, it was intimidating in many aspects because it’s a bigger film and it was much more complex than my shorts. Flying Blind is very ambiguous. Because we wanted everything to be open so the viewer could interpret scenes in different ways, it was more complex from a directing point of view. Everyone was very helpful and supportive but I felt I really needed to stand up to the mark; I didn’t want to disappoint them. However, over all it was an amazing opportunity to work with these people and I have learnt a lot. So on the one hand it was intimidating and on the other it was very inspiring.

Looking at your past work such as Wasserschlacht: The Great Border Battle and Hanoi-Warszawa, they’re quite politically charged and again this movie has a post-9/11 context. Is that something that inspired you to work on the film?

Yes, I think I’m really interested about how politics influence our lives and how we are formed by politics. So when Alison pitched me the idea and mentioned how it was about this woman who has a strong character with a political context it really intrigued me.

Aside from the political aspect the movie had some very erotic scenes which I personally thought came across as very tasteful. How did you deal with these parts of the film? Was it a very new idea for you?

Yes it was a very new thing for me. I had this idea that I’d approach every erotic passage as if it was a dialogue scene but without dialogue. I thought of these two people who are having an intimate connection who didn’t use words, but instead tried to communicate something to each other using their bodies. For me I think it was the only place that they were free of outside issues: the difference of age, language and culture. So I tried to look at each section and portray what they were saying without using words.

How was it working with Helen McCrory as the main actress?

She’s been very involved from the beginning and so she’s had her input on the script. She’s very tough and demanding and I like that because it’s a lot like her character. She was very brave in the way she revealed her body and also with her feelings. The emotional journey of Frankie was very moving, I think, because Helen really showed her vulnerability and personality. I also really appreciated the way that Helen trusted me as a first time director. Sometimes it can be difficult for actors as they can be afraid when they have a new person to work with. So I feel very grateful that she relied on me and I am happy that I got this opportunity to work with her.

How did you find directing in Bristol?

I found it great because Bristol is a really nice place visually but also because it has diverse scenery; the city is very complex. It has this beautiful Georgian architecture and also a more gritty eastern neighborhood with an anarchic energy. It all worked together to make an interesting place of location.

How long did the movie take to shoot? Did you have much of a budget to play around with?

No, the budget was quite limited. We had £300,000 and we had 24 days of shooting which is quite short. So we tried to prepare as much as we could which meant on set we couldn’t really improvise. There were some ideas that we had before that didn’t work as well on stage but there was no time to change that. Over all I think with this type of budget you really have to do a lot of preparation.

The movie was selected for the National British Cinema Quarterly (NBCQ). Could you tell me a little more about what this project does?

NBCQ is part of Soda Pictures which is a distribution company that issue a release of four British films, one film each quarter. The aim is to release in cinemas smaller, British films from new directors that probably would not have a chance to compete with big productions. What they try to do is to bring those films to screens but to have a different strategy for marketing. Rather than invest in imposters and ads which would probably be more than the budget of the films themselves, they invest in organising tours of the film. So last week I’ve been traveling up North, through cities in the UK, covering Q & As and attending audience screenings. I think what is great about this is the promotion doesn’t cost a lot so the film can reach the audience. Also, from a director’s point of view it’s great because, talking the audience, I can understand and meet the programmers of the out house cinemas and see how the other end of the film industry works.

Now that the movie is completed and out, have you got any other plans or projects you will be working on in the near future?

I am in part-production of a short movie commissioned by the Danish Film Festival. It’s a sort of experimental film based on a poem regarding an afternoon of a family who don’t know that one member has had a car accident. We shot this in March and it’s in production. At the moment, I’m back in Poland, and I begin shooting a TV Drama in June. I’m also starting to develop two scripts, one here in Poland and one where I am collaborating with a producer to adapt a book, so I have lots of different plans in the pipeline.

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