by Amy Watson
Selling Isobel shares the true story of a girl who was kidnapped and sold as a sex slave, although it is set in America, the real story happened in the heart of London, behind the capitals biggest shopping district, Oxford Street. The brave actress who stars in the film, was also the young lady who experienced this nightmare. This must tell story is hard hitting, and with Frida Farrell and director Rudolph Buitendach bringing this story to life with undeniable realism, it is no wonder that this amazing film was selected for Raindance Film Festival. Vulture Hound was fortunate to get some time with Frida Farrell.
Firstly, it has to be said: Frida Farrell commands the utmost respect for opening up about her experience, but naturally it will have been tough for her to do this and also difficult for everyone else involved. How did you feel about taking on this kind of project?
Thank you. Yeah, it was a tough decision to make and the only thing that kept me going throughout all the ups and downs of creation the script and the film was – I think this will help other young girls. It will either give them confidence to come out and talk about it and hopefully stop blaming themselves or stop it happening in the first place.
Were there times when shooting where you began to regret the decision to make the film, or found it difficult to do so, because of the subject matter?
Yes, many times. I had to take quite a few ‘time outs’ on set to just calm my mind down before I could continue. It was harder than I imagined but thanks to a great team on set I / we got through it and actually made a film. That alone feels like a victory to me.
What kind of reaction were you hoping the film would incite in the viewer?
I want this film to open up peoples awareness to what really goes on in the world. And just how bad it is on the inside. Which is why we have a few quite raw scenes where you want to look away but can’t. Like driving passed a car accident.
I believe that this is the kind of film that everyone should watch at some point in their lives because it brings an important subject into the public sphere and forces them to acknowledge something that is often side-lined. Do you agree?
Totally agree. I would even like to take this film further then cinema or Netflix. I’d love to tour schools, 15 years and up, and show the film and come and talk about the subject. I’ve already had several women come forward to me and tell me THEIR stores. That’s amazing in many ways, because not only am I promoting a cause but I’m giving women confidence to come forward. And I feel that women can connect with on a different level because we’ve been through similar things. And that’s very powerful.
Before, during and after making Selling Isobel, did you ever have a specific target audience in mind?
I wold say I’m aiming at women of all ages. Young women because they could be the next victim but also mothers of all ages who could use this to help educate their daughters.
If the film were to be used in an academic context, such as on a university course, how would you feel about that?
That would be amazing. Simply amazing. Imagine how many I could educate in one sitting…
Naturally, when any art form is debated within the academic community, new interpretations and theories surface which can alter and develop how people perceive something. So, aside from telling Frida’s story, did you intend to create additional layers of meaning within ‘Selling Isobel’ which could potentially open up wider debates about the issues at hand or how they were treated within the film itself, such as decisions regarding camera technique, sound or any other aspects of the filming process?
I’m always open to discuss and re-interpret any layers of the film or different techniques we used to create this story. It’s fun and hopefully I can learn something in the process. This is geeky but I did really enjoy the post production of this film and working with different editors seeing who they wanted to tell the story. A good editor makes such a big difference. And then the amazing sound team, driven by Per Hallberg (3 times oscar winner) and seeing how they wanted to tell the story with sound or sometimes no sound. Fascinating.
Was there anything that influenced your decision to set the film in America rather than London, where the events took place?
Yeah we set it in the US for 2 reasons. One – budget. We simply didn’t have enough money to fly over and put people up. Two – I think it would’ve been even harder to make the film in the town where it really happened. Doing it in LA I could somehow separate myself from the true event, enough to go through with the film.
As Selling Isobel deals with the true story of one individual and centres around a real experience, how do you feel it compares to other films which tackle similar issues but in a very different way, such as Taken?
The first Taken was great. I thought they did an amazing job at showing how things can happen. And how gruesome that part of the world is.
What do you think is the most positive outcome of making the film?
That I’m helping and reaching out to other young women. And I think it has somehow helped and healed me on a deeper level. To be able to take the worst event in my life and turn it around to something positive. But I couldn’t have done it alone. I’m very grateful to team that’s helped creating this film from beginning to end and to my director Rudolf Buitendach for his hard work both during filming and after.