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Filmmaker Focus: Krystal S. Lowe

Krystal S. Lowe is a choreographer, dancer and filmmaker. Hailing from Bermuda originally, before settling in the Welsh town Newport, Lowe’s mission statement is about creating stage and screen work that explores themes of identity, mental health and wellbeing, and empowerment to challenge introspection. Her debut short Daughters of the Sea, is a retelling of Welsh folklore through the power of dance, and it screened at ASFF 2022. 

ASFF: As an emerging filmmaker, how have you found navigating the film industry?

KL: Daughters of the Sea was the first film I made, and it came via a Ffilm Cymru scheme, a development organisation in Wales that really stood by me. There was a call for people who have experience in any art form and wanted to get into short filmmaking. I had no former knowledge of that, so it was an incredible project. I was using the transferable skills from my previous work, but realistically, I didn’t know what to expect about filming. Everyone else did, which was helpful because I could just go in and do exactly what I wanted to do. They knew how to support that. If the whole team were at my stage of development, Daughters of the Sea would be a completely different film! Ffilm Cymru was a big impact, not only because of the project, but they’ve continued to stay close and give feedback. Besides that, they would alert me about opportunities. Thanks to this I did a shadowing job which was a great way to develop myself as a filmmaker. I would say a big aspect of me navigating the industry is having the support of Ffilm Cymru.

ASFF: How important did you feel it was showing Daughters of the Sea at ASFF 2022?

KL: It was really, special for me! The feedback came from a wide range of filmmakers and professionals who have a lot of experience in viewing short films. There’s something about presenting your work in such an environment. No matter what you thought about it or what could have been different. It is an important step for any project to be presented, especially at a festival like Aesthetica. It’s a step of empowerment – deciding for yourself, reflecting on what you’ve created and seeing your work from an outer perspective. It is worth sharing on a platform so big with such incredible artists.

ASFF: Your bio describes you as a dancer, choreographer, writer and director. How do you see those disciplines fitting together?

KL: Daughters of the Sea is a good example of how those things come together.  I put much of my experience as a dancer into my work as a choreographer. I knew what the dancers were feeling during the filming process, which helped a lot. At the same time, as well as writing, I voiced it too. In one sense, these are separate tasks, but in reality, I regard them as one. All the pieces come together in the final result.  Participating in creating something complete gives me the strength and the autonomy to continue my work.

ASFF: You received the UK Partner Award. Can you tell us more about that?

KL: Unlimited is a charity based in England that champions the work of disabled artists. They created the UK Partner Awards through which they partner with organisations in Scotland and Wales. One of these was National Theatre, Wales. This involved a £30,000 commission to research and develop a live show. I applied with a proposal for a dance theatre show that I wanted to research and develop. This is followed by 10 months of imaginative exploration. The outcome is going to be an immersive dance theatre show, specifically designed to support neurodivergent audiences in their watching experience and engagement.

ASFF: Simultaneously, you’re working on a new film. What is it about?

KL: I’m really excited about this work because it’s semi-autobiographical. The working title is Seven. It’s about living with depression and the people that provide a support network. It’s very different from Daughters of the Sea. It’s a scripted drama and there’s no dance in it, which was really weird for me! I thought that: “I’m a dancer, I need to have dance!” Originally, as I was writing the script, I thought I would have to include it in the film. But eventually, Ffilm Cymru helped me and I had a story editor, which resulted in an incredible development. After this process, we refined it even further and I thought, ‘Actually, I don’t think dance makes sense in this film anymore.’


Daughters of the Sea dir. Krystal S. Lowe | ASFF Filmmakers’ Insights

Words: James Mottram