Kate Cox explores gender in her new dance film, UNBOXING

Our latest featured member is London based director and photographer Kate Cox. With a degree in fine arts followed by a stint as an art director, Kate is pursuing her passion for visual storytelling through film and photography.

Her film oeuvre is an eclectic mix of work, from SHE CAME TO STAY, the sensual and atmospheric Timothy Han perfume ad, to CONTROL, the light and dreamy music video for pop artist Hazel English.

Kate's most recent work is her contribution to Nowness' Define Gender series which portrays extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Her film UNBOXING is a visceral, intimate exploration of gender identity and stereotypes through the medium of dance.

We caught up with Kate and her producer, BOOTH member Georgia Rose, to talk about the making of the film.

Can you describe what led you to make UNBOXING? KC: I wanted to address how society puts us into boxes according to gender and how that isn't a fit for some people.

You were influenced by a Will McBride image as a visual reference, what drew you to his work? KC: I’ve always loved Will McBride’s photography and had this image The Too Full House, 1968 in my mind’s eye for some time. It occurred to me that it shares an affinity with my idea where we coexist within these social constraints but feel our true nature or gender is outside them. I took inspiration from his cardboard looking set and worked with a set designer to construct something similar for the dancers.

"Dancers have this amazing ability to exist outside gender stereotypes... communicating what lies between or outside these two polarities. "

Do you feel that gender is accurately represented within current media? KC: I feel there is a huge void in mainstream media representing gender fairly and diversely, ‘transgender’ and ‘gender-queer’ still being niche. It’s something that needs to change because there are so many directors tackling these important issues but it’s still not getting mainstream air time and therefore doesn’t reach the audience it should be speaking to.

Why did you choose dance as a medium to explore gender and identity? KC: It made perfect sense to me, dancers have this amazing ability to exist outside gender stereotypes and it’s a way of communicating gender energetically, without words, and what lies between or outside these two polarities.

Did you face any challenges producing UNBOXING? GR: Working with an editorial rather than commercial budget always poses challenges as most of the pot you have will go on hard costs. It's so important to get a slick treatment together that gets people excited about the film and want to get on board with it, as most of the people involved will be doing it for the love of the idea rather than big financial gain. Me and Kate worked really hard on the development stage to ensure when we started approaching people, the idea felt big and exciting and we got the best people for the job. Your team are what makes the film and we were lucky enough to work with some of the best - Matt Emvin Taylor, P A L E T A, Julian Fletcher, Joseph Bicknell and Father amongst others.

How involved were you in the choreography? KC: I was drawn to P A L E T A CalmQuality because her dance form to me fits outside the norm of female dance. She is strong and quite aggressive at times in her movements but there’s something soft and sensual about her work also. I had this feeling she’d ‘get it’! She got behind the project 100%, bringing in the rest of the talent who all had their unique take and passion for the concept. It was a very special experience where we all connected and fed off each other creatively, a true collaboration.

Do you have plans for your next film? KC: I just finished another dance film this time for Channel 4, it’s black and white with a solo dancer set at the Barbican. We had an almost all female crew (bar our lovely camera AD) - that was fun! I’ve written 2 shorts. I’d like to make one of them soon, and in the meantime I’m shooting something in Tokyo soon. It’s about a female samurai, but that’s all I can say about it!

FInally, tell us which female-directed films you both recommend to other BOOTH members? GR: ALL THIS PANIC by Jenny Gage. Gritty, honest, intimate and heartbreaking (in a good way). The access Jenny gained to this real life group of girls in New York is astounding - documentary making at its best. KC: WENDY AND LUCY by Kelly Reichardt and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s MUSTANG.

Watch UNBOXING here.