Editor’s Note: When T. S. Poetry Press published a graphic novel version of The Yellow Wall-Paper and posted about it on Instagram, it was serendipitous that we met the creative forces behind an upcoming film version of the story. The filmmakers bought the book and expressed their delight over it. From there, we thought it would be fitting to have the illustrator interview the filmmakers. Read on, to see the conversation!
Sara Barkat (illustrator of the graphic novel version of The Yellow Wall-Paper): You’re working on a production of The Yellow Wall-Paper, but you went overseas to do the filming. To Ireland, in fact. What town did you film in?
Kevin Pontuti (Media X Director, University of the Pacific; Writer + Director + Producer): We filmed about 20 minutes outside of Limerick—where our Irish co-producers, Emerald Giant Productions, organizers of the Richard Harris Film Festival, is based—in a small countryside town called Bruff.
Sara: Tell us a little about the house you filmed at, and its surrounding property.
Kevin: Our main locations were filmed on the property of an old convent now called the Kennedy Rooms. The oldest part of the building was built in the mid-1800s and with the newer additions of the building there are probably about 100 rooms. The couple that manage the property also run an event company and collect antiques, so a lot of the rooms were filled with props and costumes and a lot were already decorated in a really beautiful period style that fit our film almost perfectly. A lot of the rooms in the building, though, have been left empty, which also gave us the perfect opportunity to use them as blank slates for some of our sets – including the yellow wallpaper room, which we completely designed and redid. The property also had a lot of green space and gardens, which was exactly what we needed.
Sara: What was the experience of acting in/working on this film?
Alexandra Loreth (Lexi; Actor + Executive Producer): It was hard! We worked long and hard days, and even a few long and hard nights. Things can get really stressful, but we were so lucky to have the crew that we did. We all lived together on the property, ate our meals together, shared beers after wrapping the days’ shoots. It would have been a lot harder had there not been that sort of camaraderie there. Acting in this film was an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to have been able to play such an amazing role, and I loved being able to explore a character that I had fallen in love with in a book years prior. That being said, it was emotionally and mentally exhausting at times.
Sara: Are there challenges that came up that you didn’t expect, and how did that either work against or for you?
Kevin: I think every film ever made has probably had to deal with unexpected challenges! If you’re lucky, though, you’re working with a crew that can take those challenges and work a way through them. I’d be lying if I said every challenge was a blessing in disguise…but sometimes we were forced to get creative in ways that really paid off.
Sara: How did you come up with your particular interpretation of the story? What was your creative vision?
Kevin & Lexi: One of the best things about The Yellow Wallpaper is that the story is open to so many different interpretations, which typically is our favorite kind of story to tell. In our development phase we did a lot of deep dives into the literature, analyzed our own personal interpretations, and did a lot of research on less common ideas surrounding the story, too. We realized pretty early on that telling this story in a different medium meant that it would need to be told a little differently for it to be effective in the same way the written version is. We really wanted the poetry of the visuals to lead our story, and by doing that I think the possibility of interpretation for the film will be just as open and personal as the text.
Sara: Why did you choose to name the main character? What do you feel you lost and gained through that choice?
Lexi: I guess there were a few reasons we made that decision; one of which was purely technical. The story is written in the first person, diary-style narration, and we kind of broadened that point of view a bit, so we felt she needed a name. As an actor, though, I think her having a name helped me connect with the character more than I would have without.
Sara: How do you handle the climactic moment (“I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane?”) since in your interpretation the main character is Jane? What do you feel you gained and lost in the portrayal of that scene?
Kevin & Lexi: We’re going to skip that one. Can’t give away the ending. ; )
Sara: Any other intriguing or context-setting things you want to add?
Kevin & Lexi: We’re in the final phase of editing. As we’ve worked through post-production the story has really come along and we’re very happy and confident in what we have right now. We’ve found a composer and we’re working on a sound and music mix. The Yellow Wallpaper will be out by the end of the year – and we’ll keep you updated on where and when you can see it!
Website: Yellow Wallpaper Film
Featured photo by Pedro Fernandes, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post photos courtesy Hysteria Pictures. Interview by Sara Barkat.
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