Melissa Kent’s directorial debut ‘Bernie and Rebecca’ has been given an Award of Excellence by Best Shorts Competition.
Melissa Kent is a well-known name in the industry as a highly respected film editor and although she may not be known to the general public, her work certainly is. Kent’s filmography includes The Age of Adaline, The Vow, The Virgin Suicides and the upcoming American Pastoral. Now lending her skills as a director to a short film that allows us to enjoy the very first date of Bernie and Rebecca, this “captivating and touching” [Best Shorts Comp.] film had its U.K. premiere at the prestigious Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film then went on to win an Award of Excellence Special Mention from the 2016 Best Shorts Competition, being honoured as ‘top ten’ from among thousands of international short films.
A blind date offers remarkable insight into the shape Bernie and Rebecca’s life together will take, encompassing love, family, betrayal and ultimately growing old together.
Bernie and Rebecca Trailer
Kyle Davis (Dexter/Enlisted) stars as Bernie and Brianna Barnes (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Rebecca. The music was composed by David Carbonara (Mad Men), the cinematography is by Nicole Whitaker (Homeland) and the sound was designed by Christopher S. Aud (Mad Max: Fury Road, Neighbors). Kent produced alongside Mary Pat Bentel (Animals, Goodbye World).
Melissa Kent was also recognised by the 2016 Best Shorts Competition for Best Editing, which is no surprise given her impressive body of work. Most recently she edited Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, American Pastoral, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth, starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning. Previous editing credits include the popular dramas The Age of Adaline, The Vow, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, crazy/beautiful; as well as much-loved comedies Four Christmases, Just Wright, Something New.
Bernie and Rebecca has also been screened at the Madrid International Film Festival.
We caught up with Melissa Kent for a chat
Karen Woodham: What made you decide to direct your first film?
Melissa Kent: A combination of wanting to experience pre-production—making decisions about casting, design, and a million other details; directing actors on set and choosing camera angles with DP Nicole Whitaker (Cobain: Montage of Heck), and working with an incredible post-production team including sound designer Christopher S. Aud (Mad Max), composer David Carbonara (Mad Men) and colorist Maxine Gervais (American Sniper). Also, it might be the only time in my entire career that I have final cut.
KW: What appealed to you about the short story?
MK: We’ve all been there…on a first date imagining, “is this the one?” There is so much in the story to relate to whether someone is dating, newly married, a parent or even a grandparent. And I love how the story has ambiguity and is open to interpretation. Some viewers even conclude that the blind date is a memory and their lives together have already happened! That’s good writing.
KW: How did you feel during the first showing of the film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival?
MK: It was exciting to feel the audience leaning in and really enjoying the unexpected twists and turns of the story. The first scene has a lot of humour so the audience knows right away that they have permission to laugh. By the end, many of them have also shed a tear.
KW: What was the toughest thing about getting Bernie and Rebecca made?
MK: Finding the script! The search took a year and a half until finally, I read this funny, poignant original script by John F. Harris. I had contacted the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition and asked to read their finalists.
KW: How different was directing from editing a movie such as the superb The Age of Adaline?
MK: I’m glad you liked Adaline! On that film, I got to spend 10 months collaborating with the super-talented director Lee Toland Krieger. Bernie and Rebecca also deals with concepts of romance and ageing, although their story is told in 14 minutes and I had only 3 days to shoot it.
KW: So what’s next?
MK: As a freelancer I never know for certain what is next. For now, I plan to do more travelling to various film festivals where Bernie and Rebecca will be screening, including Yosemite and Hawaii.
You can find out more about Bernie and Rebecca on the official website over at www.bernieandrebecca.com.