Myrtle, a trailer park Mom from Indiana, cooks dinner for her son. But something's not quite right. This kitchen is anonymous, industrial, and Myrtle's working to a deadline. As her composure unravels, we realize that 21 grams is all that separates life from death. MYRTLE is an adaptation of a play that Megan Barker and Patricia McCormack worked on. The short film is directed by Patricia McCormack. Patricia is also the lead actress of Myrtle. To Patricia, Myrtle is a character that asks for love and understanding. The main themes being, the brutalising effect of poverty, the deprivation of choice and a mother's unconditional love.
Patricia trained as an Actor at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Previous acting credits include ‘Pit’ at The Traverse Theatre, 'Lost At Sea' Finborough Theatre, The Field Of Blood 2 (BBC1), River City (BBC Scotland). She has featured in several Afternoon Play's on BBC Radio 4 and appeared in long-running series McLevy starring Brian Cox. She is also an accomplished voice-over artist. For the last few years, she has worked in Advertising, whilst developing several film scripts that she plans to shoot. This is Patricia's directorial debut. It is our pleasute to interview Patricia for LA Indies. Her project was recently selected by Venice Shorts of California.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?
This project started as a play that Megan Barker wrote and I was in actually, Megan read an article about a woman granted the right to cook her son's last meal in Indiana and this sparked the idea that became 'Myrtle', though the story and the character are entirely fictitious. The play explored themes of the brutalizing effects of poverty, how our environment shapes us, and how people can become victim to a system through circumstance. Of course the short film can't go into such detail but I'd say those elements are touched on or at least hinted at.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre?
I wouldn't say there are any distinct challenges that wouldn't be faced on any shoot, regardless of genre.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?
This is the very first film I've Directed. I started in the theatre in Scotland, I trained as an actorat Queen Margaret University,Edinburgh, a course run by a New Yorker called called Lynn Bains, who was a great teacher but it wasn't until I moved to London that I decided I wanted to Direct films. I watched films of Directors I really admired, Scorcese, Lynn Ramsay, The Coen Brothers, David Fincher, to name a few. I was intrigued by the language of film and so decided as a start, to do an edit of this play to see if I could make work as a short, as I thought the premise was really strong.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production?
Well the casting was easy as I am also the main actor. As this was my first time directing, I had to take it a step at a time when building the crew. I started with the DOP as I knew whoever I chose would be integral to help realise the vision of the piece. I advertised on a film connect group on facebook and sent the script to several DOP's whose reels I liked and that's how I came across Edmund Curtis. His response to the script was really what drew me to him, also the references he used - Delicatessen and Requiem For A Dream - both were films I had already earmarked stylistically for Myrtle. It was a great collaboration and I'm delighted with how the film was shot. The rest of the crew followed once I had Ed in place, every single member was a strong player and really committed to the project and that was tremendous luck for my first project. I'd say the biggest challenge was organising the shoot around covid restrictions, we actually shot in between 2 lockdowns in August 2020, we knew we had to move quickly as we didn't know how long restrictions would be eased and sure enough, around 3 weeks after filming, a second lockdown was implemented, so we felt very lucky!
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on?
I think drama and dark comedy are both strong pulls. I like playing with ambiguity, something where the audience assumes we're going in one direction and are suddenly thrown off as we take them someplace else entirely. Tragedy and comedy are such strong bed fellows I want to explore the (sometimes) uncomfortable place between both. How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
I think any art form can and has, to some degree, a responsibility to hold the mirror up and show us exactly where we are as a society. I think film has a particular power that allows an audience to identity with someone else's experience on a personal level, it can really open our minds I believe but also expand our understanding of global events both present and past. I think cinema has a unique power to teach us about ourselves. What is your next film project as a director?
I have two projects I'm developing, one a feature, a psychological drama which is obviously a longer term goal but the next thing I'm shooting is a short drama, around a suicide, really pulling into sharp focus the effect it has on those around, in the aftermath.
Trailer of Myrtle: