Three Women Wait for Death is a story about Miranda and her daughters, Hester and Rose. They are crammed in a rotting little caravan to be near their Gramps during his final days. His care bills are mounting and they need to find his hidden savings. This begins the comedy of solving this familiar problem.
Here is a brilliantly executed short film that showcases the very talented team that brought this to the screen. Watching it at the Oscar and BAFTA-qualifying Encounters Film Festival, it had Winner written all over it. The film won the Chris Collins Best of British Live Action Award at the festival, and long-listed for Best British Short Film in BAFTA Awards for 2017. It's safe to say it has been well received!
Director Isabelle Sieb is professionally focused, with an air of graciousness about her. We patiently waited a few weeks to talk to our new favourite short film director. She was busying herself in Los Angeles, meeting with agents and managers to build on her UK representation.
Sieb first came across the writer Nat Luurtsema (who also acted in the short) when she saw Island Queen, which was BAFTA-nominated in 2014 in the short film category. Sieb loved the film and recalls that out of the five nominated films, the others were all made for about £50,000, and hers was made for £900 with the help and support of her friends and family. She recalled it having a really good and funny script. When she met her at a networking event, it so happened that she was looking for a new collaboration partner and they hit it off. Nat pitched a few ideas to Sieb, who was immediately attracted to Three Women. It was more than just funny; it had fascinating characters, it was universal and, having a slightly dysfunctional family element to it, was something a lot of people could relate to.
The film was funded by Creative England's scheme iShorts+Funny Girls. It was selected out of 250 applications through a lengthy, and at times nerve-racking, selection process that overall took around four months. Each project received £10,000 to make their film. Some used crowdfunding to top it up. Isabelle recalls, "We used crowdfunding to top ours up during post-production. In total it took £14,000".
Sieb studied Screenwriting, but already knew while she was studying that she needed to learn the writing craft. She needed to understand what makes a good script and how to develop a good story; something she found incredibly helpful. "The mistake that some young directors often make is to focus on the visuals, not base the visuals on character and the heart of the story. That's often why short films don't work. They can look spectacular, but the audience won't connect to it unless the story and characters are strong. Studying Screenwriting helped me understand where the story and film needs to come from. I found that I don't enjoy it as much as I do directing, and I think I'm a decent writer, but I've met many writers that are much better. So I'd much rather work with someone that's really good, and loves it, and who is on the same kind of wavelength as me".
Sieb's repertoire includes not only comedy, but a thriller and a musical. Right now though, her heart is in comedy and comedy drama. "The tone I wanted to go with, for Three Women, is exploring serious subject matters with humour. I think that's something I really love, combining comedy and tragedy." For Isabelle, the night-time scene is her favourite, where it has a serious beat and then ridiculous humour. It helps, of course, that the actresses have such great chemistry. It also helps that the writing has a fantastic recipe of sobriety and light humour throughout, in a situation that wouldn't be funny in real life.
Isabelle Sieb has no plans for anything this year, short-film wise. So far Sieb has made five short films, and thinks she's probably done with shorts (unless purely for pleasure). Together with the producer who did The Girl With All The Gifts, she's developing a TV series with a writer, and a feature film. She won the British Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Producer last year, and she was BAFTA-nominated. This female director has clearly got talent, she's savvy in her team building, and her background in Screenwriting pays dividends in understanding what it means to build story and character; all enhanced by her skillful directing experience. This is a female director on a mission, and something tells us to watch this space!