Harking back to pop culture staples such as Charmed and Sabrina, Florence Kosky’s A Bit of Fun is a 90s-set seance, about a group of friends seeking reconnection from beyond the material plane. Kosky’s film is an ethereal tale of sisterhood which weaves its way under your skin before you’ve even realised. Twelve Cabins spoke with Kosky below about working with actors, opting for a nostalgic TV aesthetic and, of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
How did the idea for A Bit of Fun come about?
Originally, A Bit Of Fun was written by Fergus Church as a short play for a Halloween scratch night, in 2016 I think, and I actually was cast as Jessie in this version of it! I found her to be such a tragic character and it was one of those things that stuck with me, floating in the back of my mind and eventually I approached Fergus and asked him to rewrite the script for a screen format and he did, beautifully! I’m really lucky he trusted me with it.
What inspired the film’s 90s setting and how did you work on developing that aesthetic?
Fergus had already written the 90s into the script and I think that this is one of the things that struck a chord with me, I grew up on Charmed, Sabrina and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and A Bit Of Fun felt to me like it was in a similar world to these and that was super exciting.
When we were designing the aesthetic for the film we decided to try to create a similar feel to the early seasons of these shows, using 4:3 aspect ratio for example was the standard for TV then so we decided to use that and also shooting on 16mm film was important for me as it helped the visuals from looking too clean or modern. It helped create that sense of nostalgia.
Did you draw upon any specific films or directors?
I looked at The Party by Sally Potter a lot as it is self contained in one location and to me feels like a play. It was definitely a helpful reference for finding three acts in what is basically one long scene. A Ghost Story by David Lowery was also a big reference. The 16mm cinematography and the mix of haunting sadness and humour when dealing with grief and loss on screen were things I found really inspiring.
Similarly, the music. I was totally getting Buffy vibes! Is that what you were going for? Who did you work with on the score and credits song?
Yes, definitely a Buffy homage in the opening music! I wanted anyone who knows and loves that series to know the tone of our film just from the opening chords. I’m guessing that worked if you’ve picked up on that! I worked with Alastair Adams on the music and Josh Willdigg on the lyrics, they’re both longtime collaborators of mine so this was really fun. Alastair and I have previously mainly used orchestral scores so it was cool to do something a bit grungier with him. We also looked at Nosferatu and the original Japanese version of Ghost In The Shell for the rest of the score.
How did you work with your actors on establishing their characters, was most of it in the script or did you have to give them some direction?
I used to be an actor, so for me most of the joy in the work comes from hands on directing with actors, but of course it’s always a collaborative process between them and you to flesh out the characters. We were shooting on film and had to be really sparing with how many takes we could use, so rehearsal was key. I think we actually ended up doing around four rehearsal days and three shoot days. We did a lot of improvisation and non-script work first to build up the characters and their relationships to each other so then when we dropped the written dialogue in, it came super naturally.
How did you work around the ‘reveal’ was it difficult to work out how to shoot it or did you establish how you would pull it off during pre-production?
Definitely planned it during pre-production! I looked at a bunch of old Victorian seance photos and how they were created using double exposure. We basically used that technique, locked off the camera and shot all the different moments for that final sequence from the same angle so we could layer up the images and have Jessie move about. Also, playing with the idea of mirrors being a gateway to the spirit world comes from those old school seances too, it was about working out those cliches people expect and then putting them into the film in a slightly different way.
What’s next for you?
I’m actually just gearing up to shoot a proof of concept for a pilot at the start of September! It’s a modern fairytale set in the West Country with a healthy dose of British folklore. Hopefully it gets picked up immediately and you’ll be able to see it!