5 Minutes With... Charlotte Colbert

Words by
Andy Morris

12th July 2022

The acclaimed London artist and director behind stylish feminist revenge horror film She Will - where a troubled starlet visits a remote resort to try and face the misogyny of her past - discusses Malcolm McDowell, Basquiat’s snapbacks and coffins from Ghana.

Charlotte Colbert on set of She Will

What's been the most surprising reaction to She Will so far?
In the US, people are very vocal during the screenings, which is really, really fun: booing the bad guys, cheering the good guys. It feels like what you'd imagine theatre in the old days: very interactive! It's really nice, because I feel, in some ways, over here cinema can be very expensive and difficult. It's a really cool opportunity to all be together, in the dark, dreaming together.

The swooping drone shots over Scotland look stunning…
Scotland is so incredible. The setting is so amazing, because obviously the production budget wasn't the biggest in the world, we really had to scoured through and look at the amazing locations. We found this incredible cabin, near Aviemore,  not far from like the last place that the last woman to be prosecuted for for witchcraft was from actually. Which is kind of crazy! And yeah and and found this cabin is like in the middle of nowhere. We're like this is perfect but.. everything is a logistical nightmare: you forget socks or like one element is set, you're completely screwed.

What was your favourite Malcolm McDowell moment?
Malcolm was brilliant. He's such a funny character.And, you know, he's full of amazing stories,, He was telling me on Lolita Kubrick had five days just to shoot the hula hoop scene - which sounds so dreamy. He's got like, a full repertoire like these incredible tales of Lindsay Anderson that he adores and Stanley Kurbick, and all these funny characters, obviously, like, you know, he says that he should have been the lead in Barry Lyndon and, and how and how, obviously, Stanley Kubrick was not at all satisfied. So funny.  We shot him in this amazing hotel [the Edinburgh Grand] that very sweetly, let us film there and we couldn't close it, you know, because, you know, you know, it's a small budget film. He's lying down on the floor, at the bottom of the stairwell, fake blood coming out of him, and guests are still coming in. He started saying to them “This is what happens if you don't pay your bill….”

What was the first film that really scared you?
I watched this underrated film called Dead Again. Funnily enough, Emma Thompson plays in it, which you don't imagine her in a horror unnecessarily. The premise of it is really interesting, because it's sort of about reincarnation, and about different people playing out scenarios from previous lives. But they have different bodies, and they're playing different characters. So the victim might be the assassin and they're all sort of linked by this that purse from a previous life. Obviously, films is a medium that exists through time. Like, you know, it's like a shared like, time experience, isn't it? Andrei Tarkovsky said it was “sculpting time”.

Best recent fashion purchase?
I'm obsessed with them with these Clayton caps, which was how I was first introduced to the work of, of Clayton Patterson.  I looked into it, and I saw that Keith Haring had the same cap in the 80s and Basquiat had it and like all this kind of, like, wow, this guy. So then I look at Clayton and he's like a legend. He's just extraordinary: he legalise tattooing, the first to record like police violence, etc, etc. And he's, you know, and he, he was in, he tried to prosecute the police for police brutality in the in the states and then got in prison, and then went on Oprah. You’ll love him.

Holiday destination of choice?
I’d really like to go to Ghana. I collaborated Ghanaian artist called Paa Joe who is amazing. He does like fantasy coffins. So for example, if you're a writer he'll do like a pen coffin for when you die or if you're like a runner, he'll do a sneaker or whatever. Anyway, we've collaborated on these sort of uterus stools. I'm desperate to go see him basically. And to see Ghana, it seems like so incredible, like this amazing energy.

Favourite London restaurant?
My all time favourite has probably always been like, last week, while  E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road, okay. And it's amazing. It's basically existed for like, 100 years or whatever. It's a family run business. That's the size of tiny, it's really small,. And they are full of banter, and just wonderful, and everyone's welcome. And they take the mick out of everyone, regardless, you know, who they are what they do, and they're just amazing. You always have incredible conversations, meet brilliant people. And it's just yet super inspiring.

Which artist should we check out?
Historically, I love all the lady surrealists: Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo. You know, all these incredible girls and then obviously, you know, today, I've got like a group of amazing girls actually have been lucky enough to show which seemed incredible. And whose work I do like, Rebecca Ackroyd, Lindsey Mendick, Florence Peake, Eve Stainton: all sorts of  great characters.

Where do you where do you stand on NFTS?
To be completely honest, they're slightly like on the edge of my consciousness, like they're like, just slightly beyond my grasp. I sort of like understand, like, the whole remit of them and think it's really interesting. I've actually been asked to do one, which, which we're going to be launching, and it's in support of end violence against women, and which are in amazing organisations in in the UK. Yeah, and so yeah, but it's a simple, that's all I know, is provided like, I've done the moving image work. And then I was like, to be honest, this is the end of my I don't know anything about it.

Where do you go to in London for inspiration?
Bar Italia in Soho. you know, I can sit there for like days probably any colonias and just watch funny characters will pass. You know, I think it's just always amazing. Obviously, there's like a tonne of galleries and all that but but recently I guess that's where I've been mostly lurking. 

Favourite interiors shop?
Tess Newall, who is just incredible. She's got all of these children but somehow she still makes these incredible murals, painted furniture and stuff that is really beautiful. How is that even possible?

Is there a coffee table book you particularly love?
A friend gave me this Taschen book, Tarot. The Library of Esoterica. And it's really beautiful and sort of really interested in the way Tarot works with architects obviously, there's like some of it in the film. And then, actually, with AFC, we've designed the civil tarot cards. It's so interesting, like the, the kind of Yeah, that sort of imagery and the archetypes and the way, you know, we sort of relate to these ancient ancient images without really knowing how or why they effect us.

What does luxury mean to you?
Time. Immortality. Sleep. Dreams. 

She Will is out in cinemas later this month. charlottecolbert.com