Emma Miranda Moore
Talking film and female bonding with the rising writer-director.
An international talent call that invites filmmakers to send in scripts that must be set in a five-star hotel and feature just two characters will inevitably yield some recurring themes. That was certainly true of entries into “The Stay.” In fact, the fifth and final script to be developed into a short film was one of a group of entries that centered on a wedding — and one of a handful that featured a wedding dress.
But what made London-based writer and director Emma Miranda Moore’s script stand out was her clever take on the genre, winning the judges over by turning a story that could have just been about romance into one that focused first and foremost on female friendship. And her fast-paced, desert-set comedy (it was shot at The Ritz-Carlton Ras al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert) is set to win over audiences too.
“100%” tells the story of lovably scatty bride-to-be Natalie, who is struck down by a serious attack of cold feet the night before her wedding. Luckily, her considerably more sensible best friend Farrah is on hand to help her see sense — courtesy of a five-strong list of “Natalie’s Worst Mistakes.” (The theory being that by pointing these out to Natalie, she will realize that Tom, her fiancé, is anything but a mistake.)
“The story stemmed from me thinking about the choices we have in life,” says Moore. “How do you know when you’ve made the right call? Who gets you through these difficult times? My friends are really important to me, and this is something I’m interested in seeing reflected on-screen.”
Moore insists that her film is an homage to that most beloved of film genres, the romcom. The beauty of “100%,” however, is that the “rom” is very much between Natalie and Farrah themselves.
“Obviously there’s a romantic angle, but really the love story we’re telling is between the two women,” Moore says. “We’re trying to tell a story about their history together, what they bring to each other, the support they give each other, and the warts-and-all understanding that really represents true love — in all kinds of relationships,” she adds with a laugh.
It’s not just her script that serves as a paean to female camaraderie and friendship. On set, almost all key cast and crew — from the director of photography and first assistant director to the location producer and local head of wardrobe — were women, a factor important to Moore from the outset.
“It’s just always been there,” she says of her passionate advocacy for women in film. A fashion photographer before she moved into media, Moore recalls instances of standing on set with a camera in her hand and people asking where the photographer is, “because the assumption is it would be a bloke.” As someone who grew up in an all-female household, she’s always been keen on challenging that particular status quo.
“Me, my mum and my sister have always been women who do things for themselves,” she says. “I love men. I’m raising men [Moore is mother to two boys] and I feel very strongly that men have a good part to play in feminist ideology and the fight moving forward. But it’s fantastic to be able to work with a group of women.”
Having watched Moore interact with her cast and crew on location for “100%,” it makes sense that her commitment to the power of a female-centric team will find its way on-screen. Take her stars, Rebecca Bujko (Natalie) and Roxy Shabestari (Farrah). While the pair’s 16-hour getting-to-know-you flight from Los Angeles to Dubai went a long way in forging the initial trust and understanding between them, the five intense days on location cemented their bond.
“The experience created a genuine friendship between them,” Moore says. “And it’s the same for me and Kate [Reid, her director of photography]. We hadn’t worked together before and we are pretty tight now.
“It’s nice,” she concludes. “We’re talking about female friendships, but we’re also creating them.”
One hundred percent.