Meet Florence Kosky, the Director Opening Up the Conversation On Mental Health

Words: Sophie Henderson
Featured Image: Daniyel Lowden

At only 21 years old, Florence Kosky has proved that balancing multiple job roles whilst contributing to discourses on socio-political happenings is a do-able task. With a passion to debunk the stigma surrounding mental health and the desire to have a creative outlet, this London-based one to watch is working on films worth watching. The vibrant Kosky, represented by Models1, is currently creating a film titled All The World’s A Stage which will be released during Mental Health Awareness week. With a need to hear more, we sat down with Kosky to get some insight on her thoughts behind the film, her drive to break down taboos surrounding mental health and the power of female support.

 

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Hey Florence! Could you tell us a bit about you and your background, particularly how you got into the modelling industry?
Hello! For sure – so I’m a model, actress and filmmaker who grew up in Dorset. I got scouted a couple of times as a young teenager and wasn’t really interested and then when I was 16 I went to a music festival and got scouted by Models1 and signed with them! I finished school and then when I was 18 I did my first show season and was supposed to just do a gap year modelling following that but it went pretty well so I rolled with it! And since then, it’s flown quite naturally into the other aspects of my work, which has been great.

 

We’d also love to hear about your interest in film – has that been a lifelong love?
I think it’s more that I’ve always loved stories and fantasy rather than film specifically – I wasn’t really interested in it as a medium until I was about 16 and started working on To Tokyo (which I’m FINALLY going to see this year – very excited!) and the director Caspar made me watch a bunch of films that I hadn’t seen before. Jacob’s Ladder, Drive and Akira are the ones that really stuck out to me and made an impact. As well as being exposed to films that really grabbed me, I also saw the level of craft and magic that went into filmmaking. We had a really small crew so I got to see the workings of a film set that in a way that I think if I were an actor on a bigger project, I would have been shepherded away from, and that was pretty special – there’s a camaraderie that you develop when you’re shooting with a crew away on location that I fell in love with. It also allowed me to ask lots of questions and learn about the technical side of filmmaking, and I guess after we wrapped it just became an itch I had to scratch by making my own work.

 

Is it difficult to pursue your own creative work alongside a modelling career?
It can be tough at times – it’s a bit of a juggling act and sometimes it can feel like no matter what decision you make you’re going to piss someone off. I of course know that I’m very lucky to have amazing representation as a model,  a wonderful agent as an actress and being just signed with a production company as a director, but, with that many people involved in your work schedule there’s going be conflicts and you’re going to be letting people down. That part sucks, because they are all super supportive,  but I like to think everyone knows that I’m super committed to each job though! Also, it’s wild that they actually all back me- incredibly grateful for that! On the flip side as well, modelling has allowed me financial freedom that would have been very difficult to come by if I had gone the uni/drama school route and I think that sadly, that’s kind of a necessity to produce your own work now, or at least in film. Being in fashion has also been cool because I’ve had the opportunity, at a very young age, to meet and work with some insanely talented people as a model which has for sure fed into my work. Whether it’s just being exposed to creativity and letting that influence me, or, actually moving forward and working with the people I’ve met, fashion has had a great impact on my film career.

 

So what inspires or motivates you to create?
I really think it can be anything, whether it’s a painting or a little moment with someone in real life or hearing a song for the first time; it’s just something that stays in my head that I can’t get out. I guess it’s little obsessions I develop, that I have to get out of my system by putting them into my work. It’s quite cathartic in that sense – taking something that you can’t stop thinking about and just letting it go out into the world.

 

We hear you’re currently working on a film that brings attention to youth suicide. Is mental health a poignant subject for you?
Absolutely. My Dad is a psychiatrist and so we’ve always had very open discussions about mental health and self-care at home, which I think has been incredibly important for me in developing a stable base with such an unstable lifestyle. This is why I find it so frustrating that there is still such a taboo around subjects like suicide as I’ve reaped the benefits of being able to be open about my head space and being supported in doing so, whilst watching friends who don’t have that same support system. That foundation of support for mental health is not engrained in our culture – spiral and struggle. I’ve even seen three friends lose those battles over the past four years and it’s heartbreaking. It really makes me want to do something, and so yeah, that’s why this film has come about.

I wanted to make something that is inviting for people to watch by not being really graphic or potentially triggering in hope that it will open up the conversation and add to the movement of breaking down the taboo. The film is called All The World’s A Stage and it’s based on a poem that my friend Charlie Fox wrote when we lost a mutual friend back in 2013. The poem has stayed with me ever since – I remember reading it the first time when she published it on Facebook and just sitting there and being blown away by it. It has this fairytale quality to it that allows you a bit of space from the raw emotion of the subject; I think that has hopefully translated into the film which will prevent people from being scared away from confronting the subject of suicide. It’s gonna be released online during Mental Health Awareness Week – please keep your eyes out!

 

And whilst gender equality affects both the fashion and film industries, what does the concept of femininity mean to you?
I think that femininity is what makes YOU feel like a woman (and that includes trans women as well as cis!). For me it varies massively – it can be something superficial like nailing my winged eyeliner, or, wearing suspenders and ridiculous underwear. But, it can also be a feeling of sisterhood which occurs when you’re with inspiring women and girls – the most poignant moment in recent memory for me, whereby I was overwhelmed by powerful feminine energy was at Underwire Film Festival, (which is a BAFTA qualifier and is made to celebrate female talent in film) and I was watching these amazingly talented women be celebrated by other strong, talented women. The energy in the room was incredible. It made me feel very inspired and proud to be a woman. I think that feeling is what femininity should be.

 

Like this? Get to know more about Florence here.