'Blue My Mind' director Lisa Bruhlmann reveals her inspiration behind the mermaid horror flick and why she wants to do sensual cinema
Lisa Bruhlmann's latest film is far from a fairytale. A dark, twisted story about a teen who turns into a monstrous fish, 'Blue My Mind' isn't for the weak of heart.
Lisa Bruhlmann's latest film 'Blue My Mind' will give you the chills, simply because of how close to reality it is. Sounds strange doesn't it? A fantasy horror movie being so real that it's scary? Once you watch the film, it won't seem strange at all. The epic coming of age story trumps every expectation you would have from a film of the genre, in the best way possible. A tale of empowerment told in the most gripping way, the film deals with puberty like no other. It follows a teenager named Mia whose life is turned upside down when she finds herself morphing into a fish. Make no mistake, this isn't anything like 'The Little Mermaid' - Mia blisters and bleeds and eats raw fish all the while drowning her sorrows in self-harm, drugs, alcohol, and promiscuity.
The film is uncomfortably raw at times - especially when it deals with sex. It's violent and abusive and has no moral compass. In Mia's mind, it is what it is. Unlike most of the teen flicks we see today, 'Blue My Mind' grasps at the real picture behind exploring one's sexuality in the current age. It also explores the way pornography has shaped the way we see sex, asking a very important question - how much of it is really what we want and how much of it is just conditioning?
'Blue My Mind' released worldwide on November 13. The film stars Luna Wedler as Mia and Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen as Gianna.
Writer and director Bruhlmann spoke to Meaww exclusively about what inspired the gruesome yet uplifting tale of this siren of the sea, the groundwork that went into getting the life of a teen so perfectly well on screen and the path she's chosen with sensual cinema. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
First of all, congratulations on the fantastic film! For a fantasy/horror movie, 'Blue My Mind' gets too real too fast. What inspired you to write the story?
I have always been fascinated by fantastic creatures from mythology. I think it‘s very interesting that some of them appear in various cultures, independent of time and place. These characters exist in our collective subconscious. So this idea just came to me, it was a very intuitive process and felt right from the first moment on.
The film says that coming of age is like turning into a fish, painful yet freeing. Did you draw inspiration from your own adolescence?
Mia is a fictional character but of course, I did put a lot of feelings and experiences in it that I had as a teenager in that character. It’s a mixture of shame, being introverted and being very angry at the same time. Sadly, young women often tend to be self-aggressive when they feel like that. I know these feelings very well from the time when I was a teenager myself.
In the film, there are fleeting moments that show a deep understanding of the way things work in teen circles today - especially the sex bits. How much research went into making this film?
I researched a lot, went out to youth clubs and tried to do interviews with young people. Youth clubs are clubs in Zurich meant for especially for young teenagers, where they can hang out and be among themselves and there are usually only one or two very nice social workers around. It’s been a while since I’ve been a teenager but not much has changed since then. So I put some experiences from my time in and asked my young cast what they think about it. They confirmed every single thing.
Why a mermaid, why not a complete transformation with gills and everything?
I’ve always been fascinated by mermaids. This is how the story started. I didn’t know anything but that it had to be about a mermaid. For me, she is a symbol of freedom and power. She lives her true nature, is wild and free..all the things I wish for every girl and every woman.
You're also an actor, so does it make directing easier or does it work the other way?
I believe that my background as an actress has a strong influence on how I direct. Of course, I use the craft, which I learned as an actress, not only for the development of the script and the characters but for preliminary talks with the actors as well. On set, I always revert to my own experiences and ask myself - what would I need or what did I miss sometimes? I often had the impression that I did not feel the director at all... at the same time, I did not have the space to fail or to dare to question things. I wanted to do that differently. Above all, I want to give my actors a lot of space and give them the confidence that I highly appreciate their art. As a director you just have to watch and listen. That sounds simple, but it requires the highest concentration.
With Blue My Mind, what was your greatest challenge? Tell us about the bumps on the road.
Oh yes! many bumps. There was a big storm in Italy when we were shooting and all the sand went underwater. The sand made it very hard to shoot the underwater scenes. Because of the storm, we were not able to shoot as much as I wanted and so after the storm passed, I insisted we drive back eight hours to Italy. Only 5 of us: Me, my partner and co-writer, my DOP and the two lead actresses.
The film's color palettes are like subplots. It has tones of blue hidden across in the first few shots but as the film progresses the colors change and then go back to the blue tones. What's the story?
I love to work with colors. I could talk a lot about this! We wanted to show summertime and the heat when as a girl you are under a lot of pressure to show a lot of skin. But we found it very interesting when we graded those colors cold, in blue tones, because of course, it is her element. But there is also a very eccentric, bold use in color where we just put a pink light on an entire scene and don’t explain why. I think as long as you gain the right emotion I want to be as free in the use of color as I want to.
What are some of the other projects we could look forward to?
I just finished shooting two episodes for 'Killing Eve' which was great fun. But of course, I’m also planning my next feature. I'd love to tell genuine stories about impressive women, rebels or lovers. I want to make emotional and sensual cinema - like the path I established in 'Blue My Mind'.
Watch the trailer below: