Officially Selected Alumni Interviews

Rachel Clear Burton & Edie Moles: Lift-Off Short Listed Season Awards Filmmaker Interview

Edie Moles is a queer Art Director from London, and student at Falmouth University, looking to better understand happiness and the human condition through filmmaking. After Art Directing a number of independent short films and feature length projects, she decided to develop Underbelly to explore her personal experiences of identity and autonomy.

Edie’s directorial debut, Underbelly, takes a look at how one young man’s life is deeply affected by his sister’s lack of access to abortion. The audience are ripped from their seats into one day in his life – feeding a newborn baby one minute, slicing a pork underbelly at the local butchers the next. Underbelly tells us a story about tenderness, empathy and human connection.

Edie’s aim for the film is “to encourage others to empathise with the struggles of their neighbour. What is your struggle – your ‘underbelly’? A hidden soft-spot, often vulnerable, that others may not know about? We observe Norman’s in stark and unsparing detail as he makes a terrible mistake when left with a baby. Condemn him, or empathise with him. That’s up to you.”

Underbelly screened at the Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival. We interviewed producer Rachel Clear Burton to get more insight on the inspiration behind the film and what drew her to the script, as well as her and Edie’s future as filmmakers.

Underbelly has been short-listed for Best First-Time Film for the 2023 Lift-Off Season Awards.

Interview by Ollie Baines

What is your film about? And why did you want to make it?

Underbelly follows a young man, Norman, from Dundee, who is launched into adulthood when his younger sister has a baby. Norman juggles his job as an apprentice Butcher with his responsibilities as an Uncle. The film is loosely based on Writer/Director Edie Moles’ personal experiences with reproductive health, where her own struggles had a butterfly effect around her with the people she loved, much like they do in the film.

“When Edie approached me with the original script, I was drawn to it and also to her as a filmmaker. While reading the script for the first time, I could feel the empathy that Edie had for her characters and I was impressed with her upfront and blunt honesty. The story was heart-wrenching and funny. As a Producer, I strive to collaborate with filmmakers who aim to tell stories that are unique, relevant, impactful and that can encourage change, and I knew that this was one of those stories.”

Who are your 3 biggest filmmaking inspirations and why?

“It would be difficult to summarise my favourite genre or style of filmmaking, however, a filmmaker who has undeniably influenced my own filmmaking is Mira Nair. Having watched Salaam Bombay in my early teens, I have since been inspired by the works of Mira Nair and by her commitment to educating, inspiring, and her quest to discover if art can create change.

“In my personal life, a huge inspiration for me and where I feel most myself is within nature. My reading tends to lean towards authors, such as Rachel Carson and Jack London, who examine the natural world and the relationship humans have with it. There are a wealth of narrative and documentary films and filmmakers who aim to explore this relationship but I have always felt that Hayao Miyazaki captures this symbiosis in a beautiful way. His films, for many reasons, are some of my favourites but I have always been captivated by how he plays with nature, quite often representing it as its own character, to demonstrate the complex connection we have with it.

“I am constantly being inspired by filmmakers. Like everybody else, my interests and passions are always changing as I learn and evolve. Therefore, I think it is important to mention a filmmaker who has recently inspired me. Charlotte Wells’ recent debut feature film Aftersun, is beautiful, and cleverly yet simply explores the incredibly complex father-daughter relationship. This moving exploration of human connection is, to me, inspiring storytelling.”

What is next for you as a filmmaker?

“Since Underbelly, Edie and I have made two further short films, Mercy and Marionette, which create an anthology of shorts touching upon women’s reproductive health. We are excited to share these both shortly. As well as this, I have produced another short film and I’m working as a Producer on a feature documentary. My goals as a Producer are quite simple, I hope to collaborate with filmmakers, from all backgrounds and walks of life, who have something to say, and to give them the opportunity to say it. Furthermore, leading by example, I’d like to continue making films that encourage inclusive, ethical and environmentally focussed filmmaking on and off screen.”

Don’t forget to view the complete Winners and Special Mentions and Shortlisted Season Awards Filmmakers list from Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival.