By Adam Ray Palmer
Butterfly Kisses a powerful independent film helmed by two strong individuals, so I thought, why not talk to them about it!
Whilst swanning about in Berlin, myself, Theo Stevenson and Rosie Day discussed the film, the director, what’s next in their lives… and yes Humans series 3.
Have a read below for some humorous and insightful answers…
ABOUT BUTTERFLY KISSES:
We follow Jake and his two best friends, Kyle and Jarred through a world
distorted by sex and porn. The leader is Kyle – he talks about girls non-stop, Jarred can’t stop cheating on his girlfriend and then there’s Jake, a quiet and shy teenager whose friends are determined to help him lose his virginity to Zara, the pretty girl on the 19th floor of their estate. All three are trying to find their way in a complex world. They all have their demons, but Jake’s secret is one that he must keep to himself.
ARP: How is Berlin treating you? Is it your first time here?
STEVENSON: I’m loving Berlin. This is my second time here! I came here for my girlfriend’s birthday last year and enjoyed the clubs. But this is my first ever film festival and it couldn’t be better.
DAY: It’s my first time here and it’s such an interesting city! The architecture and the history is amazing and being at the film festival amongst such great films is a pretty cool thing.
ARP: What was it that attracted you both to this film? Did it offer you something you hadn’t done before?
DAY: I came on board about three years ago, as Greer the screenwriter was a friend of mine and told me about this idea he had for a film which I thought sounded like something that hadn’t been addressed in cinema before. Watching it develop over the past few years and to see how its changed and then watching the final result was really interesting and a great experience. There’s many a film about teenagers growing up on estates in London but this is unlike anything that’s out there. Its dark yet dreamlike and confronts a topic that many would rather brush under the carpet. My character Zara is very tough yet worn out by life, she’s unsettled and brilliant at making poor choices, Greer wrote her so well so it was a joy to play.
STEVENSON: I loved the script. The relatable relationships between the three boys especially. I really wanted to take the opportunity to challenge myself and work on a project so original, bold, honest and controversial like this. It had a brilliant cast and we loved filming for three weeks in south London.
ARP: Could you both describe Butterfly Kisses in three words?
STEVENSON: Fucking interesting aye
DAY: Discovering lost youth
ARP: What was it like working with Rafael Kapelinski? Does he have any techniques to get the best out of you, that you hadn’t come across before?
DAY: Rafael was amazing to work with, wrangling a bunch of teenagers on a freezing cold estate in south London couldn’t have been easy but he did it effortlessly. He knows exactly what he wants but would change something in every take to keep it feeling alive and buzzing with energy. He would sometimes give us notes in the middle of takes to get us to react differently which I hadn’t experienced before. We also did a lot of improvisation which I think adds to the naturalistic feel of the film. Some scenes almost seem documentary, like you’re peeking into their world.
STEVENSON: Working with Raf, who is a bit of a dude, was really special. He had so much time for me and always remained open minded when it came to new ideas being thrown around. He has brilliant attention to detail and a great sense of humour and has an original and cool vision for his films; and he was never afraid to explore and discuss ideas.
ARP: Did you know each other, professionally or personally, before Butterfly Kisses? What was it like working together?
STEVENSON: Rosie and I have a lovely actress mutual friend who I was in a play with a few years ago which Rosie actually came to see. But we didn’t meet properly until the read-through of BK. I learned a lot from Rosie and think she’s an incredibly smart actor and a truly lovely person!
DAY: I first saw Theo in a play when he was 12 and tiny and adorable, so I’ve been aware of him for ages as we also have a lot of mutual friends, Greer asked if I could suggest any 16 year olds for the film and Theo was a name I came up with, and was so delighted when he accepted the part. It was very easy with him from the start, I think we bounce off each other very well and both had an understanding of our relationship in the film which really helped. He’s such a natural actor, and is so much fun to work with. It very much felt like we were living these roles during filming.
ARP: Did you enjoy playing your respective characters? What’s the most intriguing part of your character?
DAY: I loved playing Zara. She’s very lost, living on this estate trying to look after her two little sisters, but doesn’t want anyone to think she’s weak so has quite a defence on her. She knows she has a reputation and in some ways very much lives up to it. She’s quite an interesting girl as you never really know her motives and can flip very easily.
STEVENSON: Jake of course has a lot of secrets. But like a lot of people, he’s struggling. Growing up can be really difficult and its often very tough coming to terms with who you are and finding your place in the world. He’s just another lost and tortured soul. A victim of a broken home feeling like he has no one to turn to at all, he just wants to scream, or be accepted and told it’s all going to be okay. So I looked at it as a coming of age story amongst many other themes, and a story about friendship also.
ARP: I found both your characters quite mysterious, would you agree? Did you find it difficult to get into your character? Or do you like a challenge?
STEVENSON: Always up for a challenge! I’m always wanting to push myself as an actor and this seemed like the ideal job to do so. Getting to explore this territory closely with Greer, the writer, was a really cool experience. And making a film that will leave people affected or hold strong opinions has always intrigued me.
DAY: I definitely would agree; I think they’re quite similar in that way. The whole shoot felt so real that as soon as you stepped on set you were immersed into that world, so it was very easy to get into character. The themes and some of the scenes were challenging but I think as an actor that’s what excites you.
ARP: I’m sorry Theo, but I can’t do this interview and not ask about a third series of Humans, is there anything you can reveal?
STEVENSON: We are shooting the third series this summer and I can’t wait! I’m very excited to read the scripts soon.
ARP: You have been in many productions Rosie, a somewhat of a veteran even at the tender age of 21… have you learnt anything knew from working on Butterfly Kisses?
DAY: I think you never stop learning in this career. Every set you work on is different and presents new things to try and challenge you, and that is what makes filming fun. I learnt a lot from working with Rafael as he’s such an actor’s director and gives such amazing notes.
ARP: What’s next for you both? Where will we see you next?
STEVENSON: I’d love to work on more projects as intense as BK. I would also love to do some more theatre and maybe even go to drama school one day, potentially. But my plan is to move into London this year and continue travelling the world.
DAY: I just finished filming on Stephenie Meyer’s (author of Twilight) new film with Uma Thurman, it’s called Down A Dark Hall, and it’s a dark teen thriller which was super fun to shoot. I’m also in Prime Suspect 1973 which airs this spring on ITV.
ARP: And finally, what is your favourite film? Or perhaps your top three?
DAY: That’s like opening Pandora’s box! Probably Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Lone Scherfig’s An Education and Short Term 12 with Brie Larson, anything that has amazing strong female leads.
STEVENSON: Animal Kingdom, City of God, and I saw Lion the other day - which I loved!
Thank you both for a fun interview, hope the film is deservedly received well here!